WEEK #1: ANDREA BENETEAU
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Scarborough and Markham. I am a recently retired fire captain/paramedic. I have been a basketball referee for the past 20 years and fill my spare time refereeing basketball. I am toying with the idea of sharing my experiences, about my 27-year career, in a tell-most (different than tell-all) book. Being the first female firefighter and captain in my department, you can imagine the stories I could share. As well, my plan is to travel and to take a cooking course…probably in Italy.
My father played varsity football and was All-Canadian at the University of Windsor for basketball. My mother played baseball, was a lifeguard and was All-City for basketball too. Needless to say, my two sisters and I were thrown in the pool and expected to swim right out of the womb. I recall running around the gym in my PJs while my mom played in the York basketball league – same league I played in 43yrs later! Guess I was destined to follow in their athletic footsteps.
I tried my hand at figure skating and became the first skater ever in my club to receive my pin for completing all my dances at once, on my first try. That’s when I got bit by the competitive bug. At eight years old, I grew quickly and became stronger – said another way, I was no longer graceful – my coach informed my parents that I skated more like a hockey player and suggested I played hockey instead.
My older sister was a gymnast and since I was always hanging and tumbling and walking on my hands, I decided to follow in her footsteps and become a gymnast. Remember how ungraceful I was? Moving right along…
I decided to get back in the pool and became a competitive springboard and tower diver. My short gymnastics career helped me understand body mechanics and movement and I excelled quickly in the diving world. I received an athletic award from the city of Scarborough, which still hangs on the wall at the Civic Centre. I had the pleasure of representing Ontario at the Nationals in Edmonton one year. On the plane ride home, I informed my parents that I was done with diving and wanted to try something new. I loved being in the pool, so my mom gave me the other two choices: synchronized swimming or competitive swimming? Accepting my lack of grace, I chose competitive swimming.
I swam for four years and loved every second of it – except the 6am practices, especially in the winter months. For anyone who knows anything, my time for 100 free was 1:02 (that’s how we measured how “good” a swimmer you were). Being a swimmer was quite lonely. You get lost in your head because you are mostly staring at the line at the bottom of the pool or hoping for a glimpse of the flags above your head knowing you’re about to make a turn. As much as I loved swimming, I hadn’t yet discovered basketball.
My father sponsored a baseball team one summer, so of course I had to play. I also went to tennis