Rick Makes a Video of Laura's Victory
The day after Laura's victory, as I read the
morning paper's account it occurred to me most people probably hadn't heard of Laura either. Furthermore I doubted many people had been able to view her victory. Since I work at night, it was impossible to watch the Olympics during the evening. Instead I watched everything on videotape. Since all the footage was available to me, soon after the Olympics ended, I decided to make my own video of Laura's victory.
By editing out the commercials, I was able to put together a 45-minute recap of Laura's victory. After I finished, I showed the event at my dance studio during practice night. Several people thanked me profusely, saying they had heard how exciting the event had been. They were so grateful to be able to see the stunning victory with their own eyes!
These same people told me they thought I had done a very nice job of editing. As I thought about it, I wondered what sort of footage the Olympic athletes are given of their own competition. Do they get NBC's coverage, advertisements and all? Does someone make them a professional video like they
do at the top dance competitions or your 8-year old daughter's dance recital?
Then it occurred to me that whether Laura got a professional copy or not, it wouldn't hurt to send her a copy of my own video anyway. I thought it might be a nice way for Laura and her parents to show the event to friends and relatives since I had created the video with the entertainment angle foremost in mind.
I Send a Copy of the Tape to Laura
So one day in early October I made a copy and mailed it to Laura's training center in the Woodlands. With it I sent this note:
I want to thank you for your extraordinary performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Your come-from-behind victory was so thrilling and so wonderful! Your efforts managed to evoke more than a couple tears, as I was so proud and happy for you!
You just can't imagine how inspiring your accomplishments are. Our country is so fortunate to have someone who tries as hard as you do.
I work at night, so the only way I could watch was by videotape, which didn't bother me since the whole Olympics were pretty much on tape anyway. After your thrilling victory, I took the liberty of using the footage to put together an amateur film of the finals of your diving event.
The tape is pretty long - 45 minutes - but is certainly good viewing for many years to come! I suppose the tape is probably illegal in some way, but if anyone objects, tell them I wouldn't dream of selling it. My sole purpose is to help share your accomplishment with as many people as I can.
I have shown the tape to my family, to my daughter's school, and at my dance studio here in Houston. Everyone's reaction is the same - pride and happiness for you. You have made so many people happy! What an honor it is to be represented on the world stage by someone who is just as nice a human being as you are graceful as an athlete.
Thank you so much,
To my joy, two weeks later I received an autographed picture and a nice letter from Laura.
Thank you so much for your video! That was so wonderful and must have taken a lot of time.
It's such a great way for me and my family to relive Sydney!
Thanks again for the video and for all of your support!
I Get a Box of Wheaties in the Mail!!
This letter from Laura was all the thanks I needed. To have my contribution acknowledged by the best diver in the world was pretty heady stuff, but I never suspected there was more to come.
Six months later on March 22, 2001, I received a mysterious package in the mail. It was big and light and unexpected. I looked at the return address and read "Laura Wilkinson". I smiled and thought, 'Uh oh, what do we have here?'
I grinned as I pulled out an autographed box of Wheaties, the legendary Breakfast of Champions, with a beautiful picture of Laura on the cover and a warm greeting. It said, "Rick, thank you so much for your video and interest in my sport!
In addition I discovered at the bottom of the package a letter from Laura's mother, Mrs. Linda Wilkinson. I remembered her immediately as the lady who was too nervous to watch her daughter dive. As nerve-wracking as the competition had been, I certainly understood her actions!
I could barely watch myself!
A Letter From Laura's Mom
The letter said:
Dear Mr. Archer,
We wanted to thank you again for the wonderful video. We have shown it to friends and Laura's coach. Everyone has been very impressed with the video. It was a very professional job. Laura asked us to send you this box of Wheaties.
Thanks again for your support. Sincerely, Linda Wilkinson (Laura's
I smiled with pleasure at the letter, then turned my attention back to the box of Wheaties. Now this was a treasure! The autographed picture was nice, but I figured every fan in America probably got one of those. To me, this box of Wheaties was special!! I doubt Laura knew this was my cereal of choice as a boy. Although certainly not the athlete Laura Wilkinson is, nevertheless my interest in sports
has always been keen. For example, even back in high school I was considered the top authority to ask on any sports-related question.
In fact, I often have imagined if I hadn't become a dance teacher, the one other profession I would have enjoyed trying would have been sports writing.
So to be acknowledged for my "sports video" was a pretty
special moment for me.
I took the box of Wheaties into my kitchen and set in down on my table to stare at it. The box continued to sit on my kitchen table untouched for a month. After that I smiled at the box every morning after that. It began to serve as my "Shrine" while I read the morning paper over orange juice and toast. It never even occurred to me to eat the Wheaties. That seemed vaguely sacrilegious.
Then came a moment in time where opening the Box seemed exactly
the right thing to do...
Sam Leads Her Team to Victory!!