Jilleanne Rookard

BONT Team USA のメンバーだった Jilleanne Rookard さんの「バンクーバーへの道」の記事を Glenn Koshi さんがを紹介しています。ちょっと浪花節的な、お涙ちょうだいストーリーですが、オリンピックに選手としてバンクーバー冬季活躍して親孝行して欲しい1人です。氷上にピンクのBONT ブーツ・・・それもイイんジャーないでしょうか。

Jilleanne Rookard wins women's 3,000 at US speedskating trials

By Paul Newberry (AP) (Oct. 22, 2009)
Jilleanne Rookard is the surprise winner of the women's 3,000 meters at the U.S. speedskating trials.

The 26-year-old Rookard, who came to the ice three years ago from inline and isn't even listed in the country's speedskating media guide, earned a spot on the World Cup team with a time of 4 minutes, 13.32 seconds.

Also making the World Cup team, a major first step toward earning a place on the Olympic team, were Maria Lamb (4:13.62), Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. (4:13.66) and Catherine Raney (4:15.56).



Jilleanne Rookard 1000m 1:19.7

Jilleanne Rookard 3000M

Sports News: Jilleanne Rookard wins women's 3,000 at US speedskating trials
Bont Skates Message Board and News: Update on Jilleanne Rookard (Dec. 15, 2009)

Rookard balances caring for mom, Olympic dreams

By Amy Donaldson (Dec. 13, 2009)
Jilleanne Rookard celebrated making the 2010 U.S. Olympic team with a phone call.


Jilleanne Rookard has secured spots in the 5,000-meter and 1,500-meter speedskating events for the U.S. team.

"I just can't wait to call my mom," said Rookard with a smile. "She's sitting at home in bed sick. This will really cheer her up."

The entire Rookard family was in need of good news this weekend.

Just the day before, 65-year-old Claire Rookard was told by doctors that she needed more chemotherapy for the Multiple Myeloma that had been ravaging her body for the last five years. Jilleanne's sister called her with the bad news as she trained for the last World Cup competition for potential Olympic athletes.

"It was a sad day yesterday," said Rookard, Friday afternoon at the Utah Olympic Oval. "We found out she needs another round of chemo and we just don't know if she can take it. I'm not sure she'll make it to the Olympics."

Claire has been so optimistic about her daughter's abilities, she rented a condo and made plans to travel to Vancouver even before Jilleanne secured her spot in the 5,000-meter and 1,500-meter events.

Her mother's faith and support have made it easier for Rookard to struggle through difficult financial and emotional times in pursuit of a dream that is now just 60 days away from reality.

"Oh, I always wanted to go to the Olympics," she said. "I thought it would be in in-line skating because there was talk of including roller sports for a while."

But that never happened. A decorated in-line skater, she retired in 2005 and took care of her mom right after her initial diagnosis. The youngest of seven children, her father passed away eight years ago. Jilleanne felt caring for her mother was the least she could do for the woman who helped her fulfill all of her dreams.

"She used to bring me to the roller rink all the time when I was a kid," she said. "It's all her and my dad. They're my heroes. They never forced me to do anything, but they have always supported me. They've laid down big bucks."

Just as her mother was improving, a friend offered to pay her way to a speedskating competition.

"Everybody told me to try (speedskating), but I didn't have the in," she said. "In one weekend, I had a coach, skates, an apartment and a roommate. I didn't know what I was getting into. It is a totally different sport."

It was, however, a sport she'd learned to love growing up in Milwaukee, even if she didn't try it until she was in her 20s.

In just three short years, she's developed into one of the world's best. But her success has cost her precious moments with her mom.

"This year has been more of a sacrifice," she said of training and traveling more. "I just cherish every moment I have with her. "


Catherine Raney-Norman, Jennifer Rodriguez and Jill Rookard of the US compete in the team pursuit during the Essent ISU speed skating World Cup at the Thialf Stadium on November 15, 2009 in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

What was once weeks or months has dwindled to a few days here and there.

"I just made those days count," she said.

She constantly struggles with being away from her family at such a critical time.

"I felt some responsibility," she said of taking care of her mom. "This has been a family project. I feel guilty sometimes because my family has given up so much for me my entire life."

She cannot be there to take her mom to treatment or help her in and out of bed. So she does what she can on the ice to make her mom proud.

"She wants me to be here," said Rookard. "That motivates me."

Friday night, she called her mom and offered Claire a welcome distraction from the monotony of her illness.

"I found a quiet spot over by the lockers and had a really special moment," she said. "She's just super proud."

Rookard's coach Kip Carpenter said Jilleanne is getting a "mandatory trip home" after Sunday's races.

"Many times I'm quite torn," she said. "What time do I devote to family? What time do I devote to skating? It's a year-to-year thing."

Jilleanne Rookard - Salt Lake City (Dec. 14, 2009)

Deseret News: Rookard balances caring for mom, Olympic dreams

闘病中だった Jilleanne Rookard の母 Claire Rookard さん(63歳)が先週の金曜日に永眠されました。ご冥福をお祈りいたします。Jilleanne のモチベーションが気になります。

Speedskater will draw inspiration from her mother

by JO-ANN BARNAS (Dec. 20, 2009)
Claire Rookard wanted to go home.

For five years she had been fighting multiple myeloma, cancer of the plasma cell, and Thursday -- shortly after she refused more chemotherapy -- doctors told her she had developed a blood infection and needed to remain in the hospital for treatment.

She knew she was dying.

"My mom said, 'No, I want to go home and be with my family,' " said Jilleanne Rookard, 26, the youngest of Claire's seven children. "She said, 'I want to go home and see Jill; I want to go home and see my family.' "

Jilleanne Rookard returned to Woodhaven from Salt Lake City, Utah, on Monday after securing her spot last weekend on the 2010 U.S. Olympic speedskating team.

As close as they were, mother and daughter found room this past week to become closer because of God, Jilleanne said Friday. It was a gift.

"Over the past five days, I had some very special moments and conversations with her," she said. "My mom knew she had established a bond in all of us that will continue, a love that will only grow. I knew I was going to be OK."

In one of their conversations, Claire Rookard told Jilleanne through labored breaths: "I want more than anything to be with you at the Olympics. But my body can't make it."

Jilleanne replied: "Don't worry. You and dad will have the best seat in the house. You'll be looking down on me. Your spirit will always be with me."

Jilleanne's father, Bill Rookard, died of a heart attack in 2001 when Jilleanne was 18. At the time, she was among the nation's best inline skaters in the world of roller sports. He died just before she made her first world championship team.

Her brother, Brian Rookard, was one of Jilleanne's first coaches. Eighteen years ago, she became somewhat of a local celebrity after she beat sportscaster Don Shane in a "Dare Don" TV segment. A little spark plug, Jilleanne - then 8 - lapped him twice.

The Rookards are the longtime owners of a pair of local roller rinks.

"After my dad passed, my family became closer," Jilleanne said. "We decided as a family that we need to spend more time together. Time is something you can't replace, and you can't buy it."

A year ago, Claire Rookard booked a place to stay in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics. Although making the U.S. team was a goal, her daughter considered herself a long shot.

That's because Jilleanne - who retired from inline in 2005 to help care for her mother after her cancer diagnosis - had been introduced to long track speedskating just three years ago. When she stepped onto the ice for the first time, she couldn't take a step on her skates without holding onto the boards.

"I told my mom when she got the place in Vancouver: 'You're really putting the pressure on me!' " Jilleanne recalled with a laugh. "She said, 'No, no pressure, just being prepared and positive.' "

After her initial struggles, Jilleanne was able to transfer her talent from inline to the ice. Last weekend at the Utah Olympic Oval, she secured Olympic berths for Vancouver in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 meters. By the end of the month, she'll learn if she's selected by U.S. Speedskating for the women's team pursuit.

"My mom definitely had more faith in me than I had at the time," said Jilleanne, who dates fellow Olympian Trevor Marsicano and is trained by Kalamazoo native Kip Carpenter in Milwaukee. "She was proud that I was pursuing something big, that I had a dream and a goal. But she was more proud that I achieved it. I can only hope to have my mom's inner strength because this is so hard right now."

Claire Rookard died Friday morning. She was 63.

Later in that day, Jilleanne sat at a bakery near her family home in Woodhaven, sipping tea and waiting for two siblings to arrive.

Brian Rookard and Lisa Swetz - and another brother, Bill Rookard - will cheer for Jilleanne in Vancouver, where she'll wear the logo of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation on the right chest of her skin suit.

"You asked me about some of my mother's favorite things," Jilleanne said with a smile. "Well, my mother loved people - people watching, meeting new faces. She was filled with joy. She loved singing in the church choir. She loved holidays. She'd leave the Christmas tree up all year. Even when she was sick, she did Meals on Wheels, trying to make other people feel better.

"During these hard times, this is where you bond. Death is part of life, and she was part of God. I'm thankful that she got to see our goal. We made it to the Olympics."

Visitation for Claire Rookard is 2-8 p.m. today at John Molnar Funeral Home in Brownstown. A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of the Woods Catholic Church in Woodhaven. Donations can be sent to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation ( www.themmrf.org).
Detroit Free Press: Speedskater will draw inspiration from her mother

Rookard going for gold in Vancouver

By Jon Machota (Feb. 10, 2010)
For someone who spends so much time using her feet, it's quite a surprise that Jilleanne Rookard doesn't find much joy in running.


Jilleanne Rookard will represent the United States in several speed skating events this month in Vancouver.

But that's just fine with her U.S. Olympic speedskating coach.

Rookard won't need to run this month when she competes in the Winter Olympics.

“My body is definitely not made to run,” the Carleton native said. “I am probably the slowest runner out of our whole group. But my coach Kip (Carpenter) always says the slowest runners make the fastest skaters.

“Because we're made to put down power, we're not very swift on our feet.”

For someone not really swift, Rookard's feet have brought her quite a distance in the athletic world over the last few years.

After graduating from Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in 2001 Rookard continued to excel in inline skating.

That success in a wheeled sport gave her the idea that she might succeed skating on ice as well.

And a few years ago she finally gave it a try.

“Once, I went to a public skate on rental (skates) and that didn't go very well,” said a laughing Rookard. “I had a really hard time taking to ice skating just because I grew up on roller skates and it’s a totally different feel.”

So, what would Rookard's response have been that day if someone said she would participate on ice in the Olympics one day?

“I would have laughed in their face,” she said. “I would have never believed them, not for one second. My balance and coordination was terrible on ice skates.”

Well, Rookard's laughing alright, all the way to Vancouver for the Friday start of the 2010 Winter Games.

Rookard, who moved to Milwaukee in 2006 to focus solely on her ice skating, surprised many in the speedskating world when she qualified for the United States' team last December.

And not only did she qualify, but she qualified and qualified.

Rookard will compete in the women's long track 3000 meters, 1500 meters, 5000 meters and team pursuit.

The Games get under way for her on Sunday - Valentine’s Day - when she will skate in the 3000-meter race.

Rookard will be one of three Americans in the 300, one of three in the 1500 and one of two in the 5000. Her teammates on the team pursuit squad are Jen Rodriguez, Catherine Ramey Norman and Nancy Swider-Pelz, all of whom will compete against in some of the other events.

Qualifying for an event as grand as the Olympic Games was a thrill, of course, but sadly, a week after learning the great news, Rookard lost her biggest fan.

On Dec. 18 her mother, Claire Rookard, died after a five-year battle with multiple myeloma.

Jilleanne, who lost her father, Bill Rookard, to a heart attack in 2001, said she has used the guidance and strength she's received from her parents to help propel her toward being the best she possibly can be.

“Oh my gosh, they've had every influence on me,” Jilleanne, the youngest of seven children, said of her mother and father.

“They loved us more then they loved themselves, and they did everything in their power to make all of us happy and push us to pull for our dreams.

“They're the ones with their hands on my back, pushing me to go forward. They never pressured me to do any specific thing. They just wanted me to be happy. I don’t think I could ask for anything better, or anything more.

“None of this would be possible without them. I am so blessed and so thankful to have parents like them.”

Jilleanne's brother Jeff said he believes Claire's illness was a major factor in his little sister excelling so quickly on ice over the last year.

“When she found out that there was a possibility that (our mother) wasn't going to live, my sister was very determined to make sure that she qualified for the Olympics,” Jeff said. “So that before my mother passed away (Jilleanne) could tell her, ‘You may not see me skate but you’ll know. And I'll be able to tell you myself that I did make the Olympics.’ And she did it.”

Being raised in a faith-based community has also helped Rookard gain strength in what has been a very difficult time.

She said it has helped her feel comfortable and certain that her parents are still guiding her from a different place.

“Both of them died and of course I'm very, very sad about that and I miss them so much,” Jilleanne said. “But at the same time, they left this world and I know that they still support me and they're still there for me.

“I know that their love for me continues. And that's the part that gives me strength to keep on going and not get overwhelmed with grief.”

Heading into the Games, Jilleanne spend time preparing herself mentally while training a few hours a day.

For Olympic speedskaters, the summer is when all of the grueling bike riding, weight lifting and, yes, even the dreaded running takes place.

Once she qualified, Rookard said she focused on making sure her skills are sharp and that she's not physically peaking too early.

She took some time away from her part-time job as a disc jockey at a roller skating rink in Wisconsin.

Rookard said she wanted to continue working, but her boss advised her to take a rest from playing skating tunes.

The 27-year-old has also found something new that has taken up much of her free time – dealing with an abundance of media requests.

“It's getting a little overwhelming,” she said. “I'm still training pretty hard, so all I want to do when I go home is crash. It's a little difficult but I guess it only comes every now and then so I might as well just go through it and have fun with it.”

And she won't get a chance to shut down the media attention when the games start. Several newspapers want updates every couple days and she will be maintaining her own blog.

As far as the Olympics are concerned, Jilleanne hasn't made winning a medal her main focus.

“This year I think I surprised myself at the World Cups,” she said. “I came across in the 5K with a top-six time.

“When you're top six, you're a medal contender. I have faith that I can be a medal contender. However, it's not my focus.

“That's the dream and I hope to achieve it, but at the same time, I'm just so glad to even be on the team.”

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The News Herald: Rookard going for gold in Vancouver

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