It’s been a few weeks now since the passing of Randy Starkman. I’ve been busy with work, and various other commitments but there are still times when I find myself in the middle of conversations, completely focussed on the topic at hand, and out of the blue I’m hit again with that horrible sinking feeling. We lost a great friend and supporter.
For those of you who never had the pleasure, Randy Starkman was a reporter for the Toronto Star. He covered athletes that dreamed of Olympic glory, that didn’t do it to be rich or famous but were driven by their own passion for what they did. For Randy this was completely fitting because the same could be said of him. At different times he was offered the chance to cover the professional sport teams in Toronto and it’s safe to assume that it would have been a better career move to do so. But like the athletes he covered, he was inspired by his passion and as a result he talked about the aspects of amateur sport that nobody else did.
Randy wrote insightful articles because his interest took him there. He wanted to know what motivated you. He was aware of stats and rankings but so often his articles went beyond that, beyond winning and losing. It was personal. He loved amateur sport and amateur athletes. And one need only read the blogs of such iconic Canadian athletes as Clara Hughes, Kristina Groves, Adam Van Koeverden, Perdita Felicien (the list goes on) to see how athletes felt about him. As Adam pointed out, he was the champion of amateur sport. As Clara asked, “who will take his place?” I don’t mean to be disrespectful to others in his field, but nobody really did what he did. How can you replace that?
For my wife and I, Randy was a very special person, largely because of the kindness he showed to our boys. On more than a few occasions he sent books that he and his daughter Ella had enjoyed when she was younger that they thought our boys would like. Two of our sons’ favourites are Jo-Jo’s Flying Side Kick and Testing The Ice – A True Story About Jackie Robinson, both of which were enjoyable and generated important discussions we had with our children. Randy was someone who “got it”. He saw the bigger picture and it was reflected in what he did professionally and in the way he lived his life.
I’ve heard the suggestion that there should be a journalistic award named in Randy’s honour and I’d love to see that happen. I think the Canadian Sport Awards should also consider naming an athletic award after Randy because he played a very significant role in what we did as athletes. He wasn’t just a reporter, he was also a confidant, a supporter and also someone who helped keep sport in perspective. Many athletes including myself feel indebted to Randy. He took a greater interest, asked more meaningful questions and just cared more than anyone else.
As so many have mentioned recently, Randy Starkman was also a great family man and our thoughts and prayers are with Mary and Ella right now. In our house we will always be grateful for the time we got to spend with Randy and the kindness and support he showed each of us. We miss you my friend.