Renée 🐝 Cormier in Lifestyle, Sport and Fitness, beBee in English Coach, Facilitator • Renee Cormier Oct 5, 2017 · 4 min read · 1.4K

The Special O

The Special O

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a terrible athlete. I couldn’t hit a ball if it hit me first. Remember that kid nobody wanted on their team? That was me! “Oh, alright… Renée,” was the typical utterance of any team captain once they realized I was their last option. Who could blame them? I was a skinny kid who was really easy to knock down. I couldn’t run fast, throw straight, jump high, slide into third or catch anything, except with my face. Even worse, I couldn’t follow the action in a game and I never knew what I was supposed to do. It seemed to me that all the kids were born with the rules of baseball, hockey, soccer and basketball embedded into their subconscious minds. Did they all spring from their mother’s loins with a ball glove in their hand?

In all fairness, I’m not completely uncoordinated. I can ride a bike and I’m a pretty good skater, but I’m not fast, and I am not tough, so I can’t be knocked about like hockey players. I actually love skating. I spent a lot of time on the ice as a kid. It’s a Canadian thing. Small town Canadian communities have little to do at any time of year, so skating in the long cold winter is great. It’s inexpensive, and you can do it indoors, in an arena, or outdoors on a pond or a river. When I was a kid, I would skate on every frozen mud puddle and swamp I could find. There were no lessons. I don’t even remember learning to skate. My mother said, I took to the ice rather naturally. I have always skated, but not competitively.

My heart quickens the moment I enter an arena. There is something positively intoxicating about the smell of the air, the florescent lights, the wooden benches, the echo of blades scraping against the ice, and the cold air that feels strangely warm because there is no wind. I am immediately whisked into another dimension that has me vibrating with a level of joy and excitement I can barely describe. The ice lets you move fast and if there is nobody in your way, you feel like you can fly. It is freedom, joy and life itself!

When I was a kid, I remember watching Gaetan Boucher speed skating in the Olympics. His thighs were massive and he was a national hero. I knew the moment I saw him move along the ice that I wanted to speed skate, too. “How can a kid from Cape Breton ever do that?” I wondered. Cape Breton isn’t really isolated like other parts of Canada, but opportunities to do really cool stuff like speed skating, were not available (and probably still aren’t). It turns out, the opportunity to take up speed skating came when I was in my mid 30’s. I saw an article in Toronto Life Magazine about speed skating clubs in the Greater Toronto Area. I signed up immediately, knowing that even though I am hardly athletic, I would enjoy being on the ice and going fast. I don’t have to be great. I just have to be there!

I joined a club in Brampton, which was about a 40 minute drive from my house. I was a single mom with three kids, and had no money, so I arranged to raise money for the club to compensate for my inability to pay the fees. I actually had a pair of long track skates which I had used since I was 11 years old. All the girls wore them when I was a kid. We called them racers and word on the street was that they were only legal to wear in public arenas in the Maritimes. Yup, we Maritime girls were pretty bad ass. Eager to use my skates after a long hiatus from ice skating, I took my skates to the Brampton club, and soon discovered my skates were not suitable because this was a short track club, and the technology and styling around speed skates had changed considerably. They had skates to rent, so that’s what I did. Every week, I rented a pair of somewhat ill-fitting skates and hit the ice. I didn’t care. I was so thrilled to be there.

The Brampton club was mostly a competitive club which met once a week for training. Training came in the form of racing on the track and playing games that were a variation of tag. Of course, true to form, I never knew what I was supposed to be doing. I’d just bump along and try to figure things out as I went along.

As per usual, I was no competitor, but I loved getting exercise and being on the ice. I was one of the slowest in the club, but I was reasonably co-ordinated. When you see speed skaters skating in real life it is like watching a panther gracefully move through the grass. It is absolutely beautiful. Let it suffice to say, I was no panther. I was more like a kitten with great aspirations.

The other slow person in the club was a big heavy teenager who skated on his ankles. I remember asking one of the coaches why he was there. He was a terrible skater! His arms and legs flailed about like he was drowning. “He’s a Special O, said the coach. “Special O?” I asked, looking for clarification. “Yeah, you know, Special Olympics.” The light dawned. I understood.

The Special Olympian didn’t get any extra coaching. In fact, it seemed to me he was just there, playing the games and doing the drills like everyone else. One day we were all paired up with comparable skaters to race around in pairs to measure our 1000 metre time. Guess who I was paired with? Yup. It was me against the Special O. “This should be interesting,” I thought to myself. We got into position and when the whistle blew we were both off. I got off to a good start and the Special O was flailing about the ice as usual. I wanted to make sure my stride was nice and long. I was trying to be a panther. The next thing I knew I was down on the ice. I never fall. What the heck just happened? As I regained my composure, the Special O whizzed past me. Shit! Off I went again and boom; I was down. OMG! Not again! I never fall! How embarrassing. He whizzed past me again. The Special O was beating me! This ugly scene repeated itself yet again, much to my great humiliation.

“How did this happen? I never fall,” I told the coach. “Were you checking out your stride? You have to keep your head up or you will go wherever you are looking.” It turns out that was not only great skating advice, but great life advice. Look ahead. Don’t look down and never look back! You can’t get to where you are going by looking in a different direction.

About me:

I am a former public relations professional, adult educator and published author. My life experiences have been rich and have led me to the work I am doing to bring success and fulfillment to people all over the world. 

I believe that nothing works well in life if we are not in vibrational harmony with our inner being. Self-destructive behaviours, self-sabotaging behaviours, anger, and control issues indicate that there is a disconnect between the outer self and the divine inner self. Once you heal that relationship, you will discover your career, your business, external relationships, your health, and overall wellness will improve dramatically. Please visit my website at for information about what I do and to reach me for support with your goals.

Renée 🐝 Cormier Oct 6, 2017 · #26

#22 Glad you liked it, @Jerry Fletcher.

Renée 🐝 Cormier Oct 6, 2017 · #24

#23 Yes. Fortunately, not all sports require a ball or a team.

Pedro J. Estébanez Oct 6, 2017 · #23

Aside from the moral of the story, another interesting point is that you, like I was, can be the last one to be (forcefully) picked for the least lucky team for a match, and then one day you, like me, find some sport you never paid much attention to that suits your physical abilities as well as your mental model of how to move.

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Jerry Fletcher Oct 6, 2017 · #22

Thanks Renee. That was truly inspiring. You made me feel like I was standing on the edge of the ice and watching miracles happen.

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Renée 🐝 Cormier Oct 6, 2017 · #21

#20 I'm glad you liked it, Neil. Thanks so much.

Neil Smith Oct 6, 2017 · #20

I grew up in a Scottish village of around five thousand inhabitants and, thanks to the annual tourist influx, the second biggest ice rink in the UK. Due to shortsightedness and lack of investment the rink is long gone now and it is a great shame that the current crop of kids don't have the opportunity to enjoy the ice like I did. Enjoyed the article.

Renée 🐝 Cormier Oct 6, 2017 · #19

#18 Haha! They might be!

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Ken Boddie Oct 6, 2017 · #18

Believe it or not, Renée, I used to speed skate in my formative years in Scotland and the same bunch I hung out with played ice basketball, which was every bit as stupid and awkward as it sounds. By the way, I was wondering if Special O is related to Special K since they’re both ‘cereal’ offenders. 🤣

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