On September 16, 2016, I was given the opportunity to partake in the biggest event of the school year at Milliken Mills High School in Markham, maybe the biggest event the school has ever held.
For years I had dreamt about interviewing the biggest stars in the world but I had no idea what I was in for.
The rumor started that Andre De Grasse, three-time Olympic medalist in Rio, was coming to pay a visit to Milliken Mills High School (MMHS). I found out about this early on in the week and it was suggested to me, because of a sports broadcasting segment called Shamar’s Sports Corner which I had been producing as part of my class work. I was told that I would have a chance to interview Andre De Grasse in front of the whole school and outside media in a crowd that included Superintendents and the Director of Education for York Region, Mr. Jay Parapally.
This opportunity didn’t sound real to me and I doubted very much that it would come to pass. I figured that this would be another hypothetical exercise in journalism where I would do all the prep work for a situation that never happens in the real world. Boy was I wrong!
Because of the opportunity being presented to me before it was officially shared with students and staff at MMHS, I thought that it wouldn’t come as a surprise to me when it was announced for real. Boy was I wrong again. You know that fight or flight response everyone talks to you about, when you get nervous and everything goes fuzzy in your head and you just want to run? That happened as Andre got close.
When Andre arrived at 2:15 on Friday I was ready to run. But then a funny thing happened. I got a chance to meet him before the interview so it got the nerves out. When I saw Andre in the green room (staff room) I was really excited and it was a surreal moment to say the least. I remember him telling me, “It’s going to be okay” and also about his first interview, which was pretty cool coming from a man who has had so many accolades in his young career. He calmed me right down and made me feel like we were in this together.
I’m not going to lie, the nerves started to build back up while I was entering the gymnasium. There was a loud buzz in the gym as 1250 people prepared for the superstar to enter, the students anxiously waiting for the arrival of three-time medalist Andre De Grasse.
Cue the Town Crier John Webster announcing to the public that Andre De Grasse has arrived in a crazy and electric atmosphere in which even his award-winning voice could not be heard. Then, in swaggers Andre to a blasting “Trophies” by Drake as his walkout song to thunderous applause and an ovation like I have never seen. My first question for Andre was “You just came back from Rio where you medaled three times against the best athletes in the world, two bronze and one silver, did you get a chance to soak it in?”
After I got the first question out I realized that Andre was a cool guy and he’s full of enthusiasm, and my nerves calmed and it became just me and him. He answered my questions respectfully and he had a great sense of humor. After the interview I thanked him for the opportunity and congratulated him on his successful journey and he said “broadcasting is a cool career choice” and that was just for me.
By Shamar Brown Milliken Mills H.S. Student