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Adversity Award: Jordan Sidoo
VANCOUVER — Ask Jordan Sidoo to begin telling his story and he’ll take you right back to the start, to the days when just taking one step forward was a monumental task.
“I was born with club feet,” the senior with Vancouver’s St. George’s Saints begins, “the most severe in the history of Children’s Hospital. They were pointed inwards, almost like a penguin. They were completely horizontal.”
That he would persevere through the surgeries, the braces and the rehabilitation work necessary to eventually clock a 12-second time in the 100-yard dash by the time he was in the seventh grade spoke volumes to the level of grit he carried within his slender frame.
And that is part of the reason that readers of The Province voted Sidoo the winner of our annual Head of the Class Adversity Award, which honours a graduating Grade 12 high school student-athlete who has not only endured the tough times, but used the experience to grow as a person.
For Sidoo, there has been an ingrained tenacity which has continued to point his compass forward, navigating him through life’s rough waters and eventually landing him at the back of the boat as coxswain with the Saints’ eight-man rowing crew.
“I was a small kid and they needed a cox,” says Sidoo, who was forced to abandon contact sports in ninth grade after breaking his arm in four places during a basketball game. “At first I said ‘That’s not my type of thing because I am the type of guy that likes to sweat and compete. It was so much different from what I had done in the past. There was no physical aspect. There was no pain.”
Yet Sidoo, now 5-foot-10 and but weighing just 113 pounds, wound up doing what he has always done, embracing his new responsibilities with a such a level of gusto that in the fall, he will join one of the NCAA’s top rowing programs at the University of California-Berkeley.
“You’re not sweating, but you have to be mentally ready,” he continues. “You have to be dialled in and focussed every day. One false move, one screw-up and you are out of the boat. There’s three things rowers want to know: Where they are in comparison to the other boats, what their stroke-rate-per-minute is, and how much bloody longer they have to row for. I have to tell them when to push. I have to keep them dialled in.”