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Classroom Champions visit Bert Ambrose

National skeleton racer Grace Dafoe, para-ice hockey player Cody Dolan meet with students: "Goal setting, perseverance, social and emotional learning. All that great stuff to help them be better people”
National para-ice hockey player Cody Dolan gets mummified during one of the games at Bert Ambrose, June 13, 2022. Doing the wrapping is Grade 3 student Georgia Dietz.

It’s called Classroom Champions – the idea, to connect kids with Olympic athletes.

Co-founded by American bobsledder Steve Mesler in 2009, Team Canada skeleton racer Grace Dafoe describes it as a mentorship program.

“To get into the classroom and help them to learn about goal setting, perseverance, social and emotional learning. All that great stuff to help them be better people,” said Dafoe during a visit to Bert Ambrose elementary Monday.

“My role is to support teachers in this program. I’m also an athlete mentor myself.”

Usually done through video conferencing, there are in-person visits, as well, and Bert Ambrose has been on that list for a number of years.

“I know that there’s been a few other mentor athletes that have come to the city pre-Covid. Mimi Rahneva, another Canadian skeleton racer, was up here before,” said Dafoe.

“We’ve really grown. Next year, we’re going to have 50 mentor athletes, like Cody (Dolan) and myself mentoring kids all over North America.”

Dolan is national para-ice hockey player. Like Dafoe, he flew up from Calgary for the day.

Growing up, Dolan loved to watch the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and players like Ryan Getzlaf and Cory Perry.

“The difficult thing is when you’re a kid and you have those idols, you never really get to meet them, never really get to have a conversation with them and that’s what Classroom Champions does. They bring myself, as an athlete now, to these schools. We actually get to talk, play games… have more personal interaction, rather than ‘that’s my hero on TV’.

“Well, no, my hero is actually here now.”

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