Athlete Ambassador

MAR. 12 | What about this face DOESN'T say international ambassador of the Olympic-movement?

  • Posted on: 12 March 2011
  • By: Michelle

Alright peoples of the internet ... well, all eight of you (and specifically the three of you not directly related and thus have a blood requirement to support me ... ) who regularly visit this blog because you have run out of productive things to do at work and your boss has stepped out of the office for a moment ...

Here’s your big chance. Okay. Well. Here’s A chance.

So, my coach sent me this link to an application for the Young Participants Session at the International Olympic Academy.

And yes. I know what you are thinking. "Hey, Bartleman, which part of 'young' didn't you understand?"

Because, that's exactly what I was thinking.

But hey, turns out that the definitive line between 'young' and 'old' is age 35. Or at least, that's what them Olympic guys over there say. Oh, and also the International Olympic Weightlifitng people. Apparently I can't start my Masters category weightlifting career until I am 35. In case you were wondering what the next step in my athletic career was going to be after skeleton.

So there you have it. You can call me 'old' in three years. But even then, only if you can beat me in a foot race.

So, then the next thing I was thinking was, seriously, come on, who wants to go on an all-expenses paid trip to Greece in the middle of the summer to be part of an international meeting of Olympic-inspired minds? I mean, all those airport security lines, and annoying identifcation lanyards (and who knows if they will even laminate them properly), and trying to decide what clothing to bring for a warm climate ... I mean who really wants to go through the hassle?

Oh. Wait. That's right. I DO.

But here's the problem. No, not the problem of being old. We already established that I'm officially 'not old' yet. Remember?

No, the problem is, well, we need to convince the Canadian Olympic Committee that they should take me with them to Greece. And well, that probably means we need to convince them that I am not mentally ill, or domestically dangerous, or an alcoholic ... well, essentially we need to convince them that I am civilized and generally respectable member of society, from a nice, normal family, who would be an upstanding representation of Canada at an international event.

You see the problem right?

So ... uhhh ... I guess, maybe, I could give them a mental picture of the adorable little girl (that's me ... just run with it, okay?) with the big Olympic dream. Or I could show them how, when you search the word 'Olympics' on my blog, there are plenty of results, which highlight my interest in the Olympic movement. Or maybe I could help them see that I uphold the values of health and sport, and that I share them with the community. Or tell them that I believe that the Olympic journey isn't a one-man show and that I really appreciate all the people involved? Oh, maybe I could tell them I speak French too.

That stuff all sounds pretty respectable and upstanding, right?

Hey. Well, look at that. Seems as though, if you ignore a few less-than-spectacular moments of my existence, we can make me look pretty good on paper.

And, of course, we all know that I am just plain adorable.


So, listen, peoples of the internet ... I think we could really pull this thing off if I had, you know, a few ... third-party validation. Like, maybe some of could write something in the comments section about how qualified I am for the free trip to Greece to represent Canada as an ambassador for the Olympic movement?

And maybe leave out those stories you all have of those, uhhhh, less-than-spectacular moments of my existence?

OCT. 09 iWalk, you walk, we all walk, run, jump, skip, bike, scooter, skateboard, tummy board, ski or unicycle to school

  • Posted on: 17 October 2010
  • By: Michelle


I'm an Act Now BC Athlete Ambassador, which means that occasionally I put on roller blades to visit elementary schools where I try to encourage kids to choose healthy lifestyles and subsequently participate in drum circles, all in exchange for Hello Kitty stickers for my iPhone. Or something like that.

A few weeks ago I was invited by Valleycliffe Elementary School to come visit the classes during the week of Oct. 4-8 and help encourage kids to walk to school. Coincidentally, October 4-8 is International Walk to School Week. So that worked out well.

The school was planning a campaign for the entire week, and classes would keep track of how many students walked to school each day, culminating with a celebration assembly at the end of the week. We decided I would visit each of the seven classes on Monday to help encourage kids to walk to school, and then return on Friday for the assembly.

Now, normally I bring my sled and speed suit with me when I talk to schools, because, let's be honest here, kids would way rather see me dress the class clown in my spandex, play on my sled and ask about my war wounds, then get a lecture on healthy and socially-responsible behaviours. Okay. Let's be more honest. It's ME who looks way cooler and they all want my autograph when I dress the class clown in my spandex, let them play on my sled and tell crash stories, then when I lecture them on healthy and socially-responsible behaviours. Conveniently, their tendency to listen to my lecture on healthy and socially-responsible behaviours seems to increase proportionally with my perceived coolness ...

But here's the thing. My sled weighs 34 kg. And I live 7.8 kilometres away from Valleycliffe Elementary School. And, no offense, but I'm not hauling half my bodyweight in steel down the side of a highway for, like, two days, just to make a point to a bunch of 11-year-olds. 'Cause, if you haven't ever noticed, them kids are smart. And when I got there, dirty and sweaty and crying, limping and starving after my 7.8 km extreme hike, then tried to tell them they should walk to school to, they'd all be like "Hey, idiot, you know that the automobile is now mass-produced for public use, right?"

But still, this was kinda a conundrum, given that it was International Walk to School week, and I was planning to drive to school to tell kids not to drive to school.

So, the principal of the school and I decided that I would drive on Monday, talk to each class and show off my equipment (my sled, and such ... what were you thinking?), and then on Friday I would return for the celebration assembly, car-less.

Which sounds like a great plan. Except that part where I live 7.8 km from the school. Which would be great if I were, say, a nordic skier. Or a runner. Or a cyclist. But let's recap my sport again here: I run for 30m, and then I lie down. I think running around a track one time is an endurance workout.

So. I rollerbladed!

Okay. Fine. I rollerbladed!*


The week was pretty cool. My focus was on encouraging the classes to try new things - the week isn't just about walking to school, but about making healthy choices. So we talked about different ways to get to school (Okay, the best thing? There are not one, but TWO kids who ... wait for it ... UNICYCLE to school here!) and about ways to participate in the spirit of iWalk week even if you had no alternatives but to drive (which I TOTALLY understand ... )

During iWalk week they also happened to have a drumming teacher come in, and each class in the school spent a several hours learning traditional drumming skills, (which the two teachers of the classrooms next door to music room REALLY enjoyed ... ) and they had a presentation during the assembly.

Which explains how after the assembly I somehow ended up joining a grade four drumming circle.


Coincidentally, I played snare drum in a marching band in younger days, but the grade fours don't know that, so they thought I was pretty brilliant when we had freestyle time and went around the circle while each person got to solo.

These are my grade six homepeople ... turns out I talked to this particular class about two years ago ... and they would be the ones who walked around Squamish with autograph on their body (blond on the left), hoody (blue eyes in the front) and backpack (Justin Bieber there in the middle ... )


These guys are by far my favorite age group. When you first go into a class full of eleven or twelve or thirteen year olds, they sit there all chill, trying to pretend they are too cool to ask you any questions or hear what you have to say. But they are so NOT good at it. Give me five minutes to convince just one of them to come up and try to lift my sled or put on my spandex, and 30 minutes later I have signed 26 posters, in seven different colours, three with hearts, one with a happy face, and have a Hello Kitty sticker on my phone.



* Some of the way ... What!? Come on! 7.8 km! Does anyone know how far that is? Come on! I made the effort. I even wore a helmet. And it was UPHILL. Both ways. In the rain. I know, I know, it's for the children. But really, whose glutes could seriously manage to self-propel themselves that far without exploding? Wait. What? There are sports where people run that far? FARTHER? And they call ME crazy?!?


MAR. 12 | La Journée de la Francophonie ... J'en fais partie!

  • Posted on: 12 March 2009
  • By: Michelle

Last week I went to Victoria as a representative of the Act Now BC Athlete Ambassador Team to be part of the
B.C. Journée de la Francophonie, since their theme this year was "Sports and the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

The event was held at the Legislature and one of the agenda items, apparently, included having an Anglophone development athlete in an obscure sport give a speech. To a group of Francophones. En Français.

Phew. Good thing my parents prepped me for this very moment by dressing me up all pretty and throwing me up on stage for the Concours D'Art Oratoire starting back in grade one.

Wait for it ...

Wait for it ...

No, seriously, this will be worth the wait ..

Oh, you are going to like this ...

Brace yourself ...


Yeah. Ummmm ... does my aversion to pink now make sense to everyone?

Okay, seriously ... it's not bad enough that I am the dorky kid who won the school final in the French-speaking contest and earned a trip to the provincial championships in lovely Edson, Alberta? Do you have to send me up on stage looking like A) a librarian chaperoning junior prom, or B) an Easter Pageant entry from hell? And what, my legs weren't white enough for you already? How hard did you have to look to find me a pair of nylons whiter than the natural albino tone I was already brandishing? Man, it's no wonder my grade-six heart throb Harley Kurata, featured here to my left in some classy sneakers that must have made his mom proud, never batted an eyelash in my direction.

In any event, I was apparently able to make a reasonable impression, despite my lack of pink-party-dress-straight-from-the-pits-of-hell and blinding white nylons, because now I have a pocket full of business cards from French immersion teachers and program coordinators who want me to make appearances at their respective schools and help convince their students that multilingualism is totally useful. 'Cause guaranteed I won't be convincing anyone that it was totally cool.

If you are bored and bilingual, you are welcome to read my speech ... no promises on proper conjugation or grammar ...

Another item on the agenda was to reveal the new Franco-BC logo ... QUE JE PENSE EST EXCEPTIONNEL!


Allow me to take a moment of seriousness here ...

I am a big supporter and enthusiastic proponent of Canadian bilingualism, a subject that is often treated with a lot of contempt and mockery out here in Western Canada. At first I cringed when, at this event celebrating French-Canadian culture, half of the speeches were given in English, half of the politicians there could only offer a token rehearsed line in French and even half of the National Anthem was in English. I couldn't understand why the Francophones, on their day, were still pandering to the Anglos.

And then it struck me. The B.C. Francophones at this event get it. They understand the give and take needed to perpetuate understanding and appreciation between different cultures. They realize that, even on their day, they need to respect and accommodate Anglophones in they same way that they as Francophones hope to be accommodated and respected every other day of the year.

This logo is extremely meaningful and very representative of how I feel as an Anglo-Québecoise and as a bilingual British Columbian.

Moment over.

May 29: Three more things regarding my Northern BC escapade

  • Posted on: 30 May 2008
  • By: Michelle

First, the University of Northern BC. HELLO?!? Wicked campus! So wicked I almost picked up a form so I could apply into the Bachelor of Arts in Nature-Based Tourism Management program and get myself a ... oh, I don't know what I'm up to now ... 17th ungrad degree.

At this point in the post, I would also like to offer a big kudos to the self-timer on my Canon PowerShot camera, for the cool shot it allowed me take of myself. Meanwhile the people of the UNBC community would like to offer a big kudos to the self-timer on my Canon PowerShot camera, for its entertainment value, available in ten-second episodes to anyone who happened to be driving by, two seconds of which consisted of me tip-toeing like a madman through the tulips, followed by eight seconds of me posing and grinning like an idiot into the wide, empty space.

Second, my final speech of the Northern BC tour was at Giscome School, on Tuesday afternoon. Thought Buckhorn was small?

Originally I was going to give my presentation to the grade four, fives and sixes. I offered to let the younger kids sit in, since the principal had mentioned that they would probably really enjoy it. I knew that it would be a big sacrifice on my part to accomodate the ENTIRE school, but you know ... it's for the children. I could make room for the grade ones, twos and thres. All nine of them.

Giscome School was a great end to a really fun trip ... I have found the smaller the school the bigger the appreciation. Yesterday two hugs and a rose. Today THREE hugs (mind you, they were all from the same six-year-old) and an entire bouquet of dandelions!

Lastly, I would like everyone to know that I FINALLY DID IT. It's taken me a good ten years of regular traveling, but I FINALLY DID IT:

I successfully packed light.

For once I was not the moron dragging several obviously over-sized carry-on items , thwonking every aisle-seat occupent in the head as I squeeze myself toward my seat and then putting in a full workout in an attempt to shove my gear into the already-full overhead compartments.

Instead, I checked in ONE underweight bag, then skipped down the airplane aisle with my laptop and not-purse, which I quickly and easily slid under the seat in front of me.

Then I took my seat, tuned in the local news on my personal seat-back TV and settled in to watch the latest news: a report that hell had apparently frozen over.


May 26: Hugs, roses and pictures ... ahhhhh ... the pay is good!

  • Posted on: 27 May 2008
  • By: Michelle

Today I did two more presentations for Tobacco Free Sports here in Northern B.C.

The first was at St. Mary's Catholic School, a great little school with very well-behaved kids. When I saw the sign on the school, all I could think about was Molly Shannon's Saturday Night Live catholic school girl character Mary Katherine Gallagher. So after the presentation, when I went around to the classes and signed posters, I had to bite my lip when I asked a little girl what her name was and the answer was Mary Kate.

My second presentation was at Buckhorn School.

This is Buckhorn School:

This is Buckhorn:

Now, Buckhorn may not have much, but they do have a VERY ENTHUSIASTIC Junior Leadership Team:

When I got to the school these kids dove into action, setting up my computer and the sound system and the projector and getting me water. The Queen couldn't have gotten better treatment here!

Buckhorn wins the prize for most ENTHUSIASTIC group so far. I got two hugs, one rose and a handmade thank you out of the deal:

Buckhorn students are also well-versed in the art of persistance.

I have done seven speeches now, and by far my most popular question is "Can I have a t-shirt?" Well at Buckhorn there was a group of grade four girls who REALLY wanted a shirt. They asked for one during the presentation. They asked for one after the presentation. They asked for one while I was signing their posters. They asked for one after I signed their posters. One of the girls wanted a shirt so bad she even sent her friend over to ask me for one, cause you know the rules in the land of grade four girls: if your REALLY want something ... make your friend do it.

So finally, when all their classmates had left, and they were still huddled around me, begging for a t-shirt, I finally caved. There were four shirts left, and I had four girls in front of me. So I made then each recite Michelle's Patented Four Questions of Risk Management in exchange for a t-shirt. Then they INSISTED that I sign their shirts. So I signed each of their shirts, while several of them giggled with glee and exclaimed "THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!"

Well, yeah. A Tobacco Free Sports t-shirt signed by development skeleton athlete Michelle Bartleman? Who wouldn't be excited? Ahhh ... finally ... people who truly appreciate my splendor.

It occurred to me afterward that maybe they were just happy to get a free t-shirt.