Blackville area has Olympic fever Community pride booms with Kathy McCormack in Japan

Kathy McCormack may be trying to become an Olympic gold medalist.

But she has already become a symbol of community spirit in her hometown.

McCormack’s membership on the first-ever Canadian women’s Olympic hockey team has brought out the best in the people of Blackville and the surrounding communities.

“It’s done wonders for the community,” said Leroy Stewart, owner of the Blackville Shopping Centre, the village’s main supermarket.

He said McCormack’s participation in the Olympics has brought out a lot of community spirit.

It has also spurred a lot of people to work together. A community fundraising campaign helped Kathy’s parents travel to Nagano, Japan and cheer their daughter on.

“The whole community felt like a part of it (the Olympics),” Stewart said. McCormack’s Olympic status is always a topic of conversation around the store.

McCormack’s aunt, Susan Corney, is pleasantly surprised by the Olympic craze sweeping through the central New Brunswick village.

“It’s hard to believe that everybody’s taking part in it,” she said. And when she says “everybody,” she doesn’t just mean the people of Blackville.

Surrounding communities, from Doaktown to Renous and Miramichi, are just as proud of McCormack as Blackville residents. Many of the donations to send McCormack’s parents to Japan came from those surrounding areas.

Part of the campaign was the sale of Canadian flags emblazoned with Kathy’s name. The flags can be seen everywhere in Blackville.

Corney, a lifetime resident of the area, said to a lot of people, women’s hockey is the only Olympic sport that counts in 1998. People are always calling her to find out the start time for the next game.

A sign in Blackville first erected to count down the days to the Nagano Olympics now displays the Canadian women’s hockey schedule.

“People are setting their alarm for 3 o’clock in the morning to watch the game, ” Corney said.

People gather at the local rink to watch the games together as well.

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