Olympic Gold Medalist Visits
Orangevale Adventist School
Mary Whipple presents chapel program, shares testimony
BY JULIE LORENZ, Northern California Conference, with AR staff
lympic gold medalist Mary Whipple presented the chapel program during her visit to the Orangevale Seventh-day Adventist School on September 12.
Whipple, who attended first grade at the school and who also later attended Sacramento Adventist Academy, won a gold medal for the United States on August 17 at the Beijing Olympics, as the coxswain for the women’s eight rowing crew. A coxswain sits in the boat’s stern, facing the rowers, steering the boat, coordinating the tempo and energy of the rowers, and motivating the team. Four years ago, Whipple won the silver medal in Athens for the same event.
Orangevale students cheered during her presentation as they watched a tape of the final Olympic race where the United States beat the second place team by almost two seconds. After her talk, Whipple answered students’ questions, posed with the kids for photographs and signed autographs.
“It was awesome! She wasn’t full of herself. She was nice!” said sixth grader Rachel Bullock.
“It was cool, especially since we had seen her win on TV,” said Nathan Carr, fourth grader.
“I think the kids caught the message that things that are worthwhile in life require diligent energy. It’s easy to be a couch potato, but you don’t accomplish anything,” said principal Brad Davis.
Later in an interview, Whipple said that she wants to encourage kids not to give up their values or their goals. “When you are faced with choices, you can achieve your dreams without sacrificing your integrity.”
She said the rowing community respected her for her beliefs. “They respected the fact that I was a Seventh-day Adventist, that it made me a better person. They appreciated what I stood for. ... People respect you if you have integrity, especially if you don’t judge them.” She said she believes that sticking to principles is “a great outreach.”
Because of her beliefs, Whipple said she knows there are more important things than winning a race. “Having Jesus in my heart helps me stay grounded. I live the life I want to lead. I don’t get frazzled, and I can handle stress and pressure.”
Whipple grew up attending the nearby Orangevale church, where her parents are still members. She said the church was a big influence on the development of her morals and integrity.
Since winning the medal, Whipple has kept busy making appearances at various functions. She now hopes to make her home in Seattle. As for the London Olympics in 2012: “I don’t know; I’m not closing the door,” said Whipple. “It will be a good adventure, these next four years.”
In a 2004 interview for the alumni newsletter at Sacramento Adventist Academy, Whipple reflected on the impact of her Adventist upbringing and education: she said she feels grateful to her parents for showing and teaching her how to think and live the way she does. “Faith plays a huge role in my life,” she said. “I feel like my character and way of life is a direct result of being raised a Seventh-day Adventist. I like to think that I am just keeping myself busy by rowing while I wait for God to take us away.”
-- with additional reporting by Ansel Oliver
Former Adventist Review Editor Briefly Hospitalized
illiam G. ("Bill") Johnsson, former editor of Adventist Review and Adventist World, is recovering from a broken ankle sustained in an accident in Manila, Philippines, on October 15. He was attending the Annual Council of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists when he was struck by someone riding n a motorcycle. The driver apologized profusely and no charges were pressed.
Johnsson's injuries were far less severe than initially suspected. His ankle was stabilized at Manila Adventist Hospital, and on his return to the United States he underwent surgery at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Maryland. The operation was deemed highly successful and it's expected that Johnsson, a veteran runner, will make a complete recovery. In speaking with Adventist Review staff, he expressed gratitude for the many expressions of interest - and prayer - he and his family have received.
— AR staff