By Taylor Renkema
Mary Jollimore doesn’t have kids of her own, but there are three women at Loyalist who call her ‘mom’.
It’s an inside joke, Jollimore said, because she sponsors three OCAA athletes at the school.
“It’s really funny when I’m walking down the hall with other students that don’t know that these women aren’t really my children,” she said. “They go by and shout ‘hi mom!’ and I go ‘hi daughter!’ and the students that are with me look at me like I’m crazy.”
Nearly 900 km separated Kirsten Talsma, Linette Melick and Martine Gauvin until they came to Belleville for a common passion- sports.
Melick, of Grand Bend, and Talsma, of Bowmanville, are on the women’s volleyball team, and Gauvin, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, plays basketball.
But these three have more in common than just athletic ability and a common sponsor. Amy Hoskin, assistant athletic director at Loyalist College, said Jollimore came to her with a few requirements for finding a potential athlete to sponsor- and all three girls met the criteria.
“She wanted someone hardworking,” Hoskin said. “If she was going to support someone, she wanted someone who was going to be getting good grades.”
Jollimore said the ability to balance schoolwork and athletics is particularly important to her.
“I think being a student athlete means you have to try to do both, and do them both well,” she said.
The donation-based program program means anyone can donate money to pay student athletes’ fees. The fees include the $135 varsity kit — which has the Lancers gear such as warm-up shirts, sweat pants, a sweater, jacket and wind pants.
Hoskin said there are about 10 students currently in the program. She said the program used to be much bigger than it is now, and she is trying to bring it back to its former glory.
Hoskin said Jollimore is one of their best sponsors.
“Since Mary is a teacher at the school she has gotten to know her students,” she said. “They talk all the time and if the girls ever have a question they know they can always go to Mary. They have one more person in their corner now.
Talsma is a fifth-year athlete who took police foundations and is now in the community and justice service worker program.
Talsma, who just broke the OCAA career service aces record, said she loves that Jollimore is always welcoming to her.
“If her door is open I just walk in. She’ll be with students, I’ll just say “hi mom!” and she’ll go ‘daughter!’ and she invites me in and introduces me to every student.”
Gauvin, who is in customs and border services, said Jollimore wants all four of them to go out for lunch together soon, so they can get to know each other even better.
Second-year pre-health student Melick said she likes having Jollimore at her home games for support.
“I like her being there, its nice having that parent figure there to help you when you’re so far away from home,” she said.
Melick said there’s an immediate camaraderie between the three girls.
“I was just introduced to her and the other girls as ‘this is your mom, this is your sister’.”