Olympian takes part in Boys and Girls Club activity

Olympian Anna Ringsred signs an autograph for Gabe Shaw. - Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times
Olympian Anna Ringsred signs an autograph for Gabe Shaw.
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times

A part of the Olympics came to Coupeville this week.

The Coupeville Boys and Girls Club presented Olympic Day for local youth Monday, June 16, and the appearance of United States Olympic team member Anna Ringsred highlighted the event.

Coupeville’s Olympic Day is one of 700 events in the United States held between June 14 and 30 to honor the Olympic movement.

Olympic Day, which began in 1948, celebrates the birth of the modern Olympic Games and focuses on Olympic values and ideals.

Unit Director Jamie Scharich said the Coupeville Boys and Girls Club was planning a track and field day for June and decided to register with the United States Olympic Committee to take advantage of its program that assists those hosting Olympic Day activities.

“They have a tool kit online, which allowed us to have access to publications and templates,” Scharich said. “They also sent us the Olympic Day flag and temporary tattoos.”

The USOC encourages its athletes to participate in Olympic Day activities, providing a list of events for them to consider.

Ringsred, who grew up in Minnesota and trains out of Calgary, signed up when she saw that the Coupeville event coincided with her visit to Washington to see her brother graduate from Western Washington University.

“I wanted to do one of the Olympic Day events,” Ringsred said, “and this one turned out to be convenient.”

Ringsred, 29, was a member of 2014 Winter Olympic speed skating team, finishing 26th in the 3,000 meters after placing second in the U.S. trials. She is a three-time World Championship qualifier with a top finish of fifth in the 2007 team pursuit.

Coupeville’s Olympic Day, which included about 20 youngsters, started with Scharich sending the kids on a seven-lap stroll around the high school track to understand the distance of Ringsred’s 3,000-meter races.

Ringsred then addressed the group, talking about Olympic history, her career, setting goals and overcoming adversity. When finished, the kids peppered her with questions, ranging from What other Olympic sport would you choose if not skating? (cycling, she responded), to What is your favorite souvenir from the Sochi Olympics? (the sweater she wore in the opening ceremonies).

She also shared the tools of her trade, letting the youngsters see a pair of  skates and examine an aerodynamic body suit.

Ringsred then demonstrated skating technique and how to start a race, inviting the kids to stand and mimic her actions.

She finished by signing autographs, including inking a few arms and one forehead.

“Anna was amazing,” Scharich said. “She did a great job of sharing her knowledge of the Olympics and speed skating in a way that kept the kids engaged. She was extremely friendly and the kids adored her.”

Ringsred said this was the first time she attended an Olympic Day event but has talked to schools and other gatherings before.

“I have a huge desire to go out to encourage kids to follow their dreams,” she said. “I like to encourage kids to keep going and not give up. I’m glad I could make it here.”

When Ringsred concluded, June 16 was proclaimed Olympic Day in Coupeville by Mayor Nancy Conard.

Then the competitions for Olympic Day began, starting with a soccer match to honor the World Cup.

The youngsters used cereal boxes to create their own speed skating event and held torch relays. Later, they returned to the club to paint Olympic rings.

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