Come see the human side of an Olympic athlete

Want to know what it takes to be an Olympic athlete, what’s behind the glitz and glory? Join Olympic bronze-medal winner Mark Heese as he presents "The Human Side of An Olympian" at Stong College on Thursday, Jan. 24 from 1:30 to 3pm in the Cirak Junior Common Room. Everyone is welcome

Heese competed for Canada in beach volleyball in three Olympic games along with long-time partner John Child. The first was in Atlanta in 1996 at the inaugural Olympic beach volleyball event, where the pair took home a bronze medal. They went on to compete at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney and in Athens in 2004, placing fifth both times. Heese is now gearing up to compete in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing with his current partner Ahren Cadieux.

"We are trying to give a human face to an Olympic athlete, a behind-the-scenes look at the fears, the doubts and the misgivings," said Hernán Humaña (MA ’92), former Olympic coach for Heese and Child.

Humaña was also head coach of York’s women’s volleyball team for 10 seasons until he retired last year along with the three OUA (Ontario University Athletics) East Coach of the Year Awards he’d won during his time as coach. He remains as a lecturer and academic adviser at York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science at Stong College.

Left: Mark Heese

"We want to show people the part that is usually hidden from view. There is a human dimension to Olympic athletes that is hiding. I think Olympic athletes have some aura of being above the rest," said Humaña, a member of the Chilean National Volleyball team for 11 seasons. "We see them as Superman, and to some extent they are, but there is another side, a human side."

Part of what York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science tries to do is demystify social beliefs, to show students and faculty that athletes are people too. With Heese poised to compete in his fourth Olympics, however, it’s understandable people might see him as being more than human.

"It is quite a remarkable achievement," says Humaña. "They work so hard to get there."

Humaña took over as head coach of the Heese and Child Canadian Olympic volleyball team in 1996, leading up to the team’s bronze-medal win in Atlanta. Following the games, the Coaching Association of Canada presented Humaña with the prestigious "Wittnauer Coaching Excellence Award". Humaña then coached the team to its fifth place finish in Sydney.

Right: Hernan Humana. Photo by Rita Abiog

Heese and Child also won Canada’s first FIVB (Fédération Internationale De Volley-Ball) International World Tour gold medal in Berlin in 1996 and went on to win two silvers at two FIVB World Tours events – one at the Toronto in 2000 and another at the Montreal in 2002.

Child retired a few years ago, but Heese continues to compete. Heese and partner Cadieux were ranked 24th in the world in 2007 for men’s volleyball. 

For more information about Heese’s  talk, call 416-736-5132.

For more information about Heese, click here.