Summer Olympics, I love them! I’m at those events mentally, encouraging, yelling, screaming and celebrating after each event. Having just had back surgery and doctor’s orders to be horizontal…no mowing the lawn or cleaning the house, gave me an opportunity to watch events day and night. Like so many of us watching the Olympics, it is surreal in that we are watching the best of the best. We get to know the Olympians through the Medias snippets of their life and talk like we know them, when in reality we don’t and probably will never sit down and have a meal with them.
And then I learned that Mason has connections with the Olympics in two ways, not from what we have viewed or read, but in real time, in real life.
One of our connections is that we have a neighbor who was in London during the Olympics. Norman Parker was the wrestling coach at Illinois High School before he & his wife starting living winters in Mason. He taught their current coach who is also the coach of Ellis Coleman. Ellis, just 21, won the Olympic Trials to compete for the USA Team in the Greco-Roman 60 kg competition of Wrestling at the London Olympics. Ellis lost in his first round, but has the Olympic experience and youth on his side, he will be preparing for the Games in 2016.
Our other connection is Kim Rhode an American Double Trap and Skeet shooter. During these summer games, she tied the World Record in Skeet Shooting, which means 99 out of 100 clays were broken. Immediately after winning Gold, Kim received a text message congratulating her, from local resident Jeff Grote. Kim has won GOLD MEDALS in five straight Olympic Games, and she calls several people in Mason close friends. In 2007 when she was preparing for the 2008 Olympics she signed up for a national tournament in Kerrville, Texas. During this stay, her coach and father decided to see the Texas country and went for a drive. The roads they took led them into Mason and to Country Collectibles. Kim collects vintage children’s books and she found several at Oliver and Doris’ store. Oliver, Kim and Richard started up a conversation which is when Oliver learned about Kim being an Olympian and preparing for the 2008 Games. That evening Kim and Richard accepted the invitation to join the Grote’s at their 20th + Annual Corn on the Cob Dinner. Corn, ice tea, and good conversation are enjoyed by some 30-45 friends and family. And Kim fit right in. When asked about her gun, she got it out of the car and let everyone touch and handle it, even the youngest 5 and 6 year olds. Since this first visit, Kim and her parents have been back to Mason several times. Kim is down to earth, a genuine nice, kind person, a straight shooter…and Oliver agreed to set aside children’s books for her on her future trips to Mason. Oliver’s sons Jeff, Warren and wife Doris have been to Kerrville’s annual National Tournament to visit with Kim and her parents. Like good friends they stay in touch about every 3 months to say hello and keep up with their lives.
Kim has her goal on shooting 100 out of 100 clays to beat the World Record and earn another Gold Medal. Ellis is focused on earning his first medal at the Olympics in 2016. I asked Norman what it was like to be at London 2012. He talked about the international flavor of seeing competitors from so many countries competing in events. “The harmony that existed could be felt everywhere. It is what the world should be like, all the time.” And here across the pond, our small rural town of Mason will continue to watch the happenings of Kim and Ellis. MASON pop.2012 may be small in size, but as locals Bob and Cathy Terrill say….” Mason is the Center of the Universe”. We are 4,997 miles from the London Olympics but our lives have touched two Olympians in personal ways. A small rural town in Central Texas, we strive to live in harmony; we open our hearts to others and invite others to join us for a meal. London 2012 and Mason 2012, we have a connection.