Elite sports success a family affair for the Botterills


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If there's a family that knows a thing or two about being successful in sport, it's Winnipeg's Botterill family.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/03/2018 (1803 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If there’s a family that knows a thing or two about being successful in sport, it’s Winnipeg’s Botterill family.

Parents Cal and Doreen are both members of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

Doreen made it there first, which is rather fitting, considering she used to race as a speedskater, for her incredible career on the ice. Doreen made her Olympics debut at the age of 16 at the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria. She also skated at the ’68 Games in Grenoble, France, before retiring.

Jennifer Botterill (from left) poses for a photo with her mother Doreen McCannell Botterill, grandmother Florence McCannell, and father Cal Botterill in a 2011 file photo. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Twenty-one years after Doreen’s induction in 1995, it was Cal’s turn.

“I finally caught her, the sports psychologist says with a laugh. “It took a few years.”

The man who was behind the scenes for so many years working with teams such as the Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers in 1994 and the Canadian men’s national basketball team under legendary coach Jack Donohue, was finally, and deservedly, in the spotlight.

“Never for a minute in your life do you think about a hall of fame, but when it happens, you think, ‘Wow.’ For me, it was a flood of memories and people contacting you,” says Cal, who played on Canada’s national men’s hockey team from 1967 to 1969.

“To have it all focused on you and your career, it’s very special.”

There’s a good chance that Cal’s induction in 2016 won’t be the last time someone from the Botterill family gets enshrined into the Manitoba hall.

Their daughter Jennifer is a three-time gold medallist in women’s hockey. Her last international game was in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where she registered an assist on the game-winning goal in the gold-medal final against the Americans.

Doreen McCannell-Botterill (left) speedskated in the 1964 and 1968 Olympics; her daughter Jennifer Botterill is a three-time Olympic gold medallist in women's hockey. (Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Their son Jason also knows a thing or two about winning gold medals. He is the only Canadian to win three straight gold medals at the World Junior Hockey Championships. Jason is now the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres.

“Nothing can compare with the things your kids do,” Cal says. “I love my clients and they know that, but when your kids are able to win a world junior championship or an Olympic medal, you’re beside yourself with appreciation and pride.”

Despite representing Canada in speedskating on the biggest stage, Doreen said watching her kids compete at the highest level brought on a whole new level of nerves.

“It’s more nerve-racking sitting in the stands. You have no control over anything,” she says. “You just want them to perform well and when you’re the athlete you’re in total control. When you’re watching, you just have to believe they’ll do their best.”

However, if you’re looking to start your own family one day and would like your kids to have similar success, Doreen has some bad news.

“I’m sorry, there is no secret formula,” she says, laughing.

Although there may not be a secret formula, Cal credits a lot of Jason’s and Jennifer’s success to Doreen — who took years off from her teaching job to spend time with the kids at home when they were young.

Jason Botterill, the only Canadian to win three straight gold medals at the World Junior Hockey Championships, is now the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres. (John Wawrow / The Associated Press files)

“I think that’s the biggest thing, to make sure their first six or seven years are stimulating, rewarding, confidence-building, you know, all the things that give you the base for the rest of your life,” he says.

“I think what they went on to do was related to their start. We kept it going by not getting in their way, encouraging them and being unconditionally supportive.”


Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...

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