Looking for someone to cheer for?
By John George
You may have seen her around the Est Otter Tail County Fair with her cousins and aunts and uncles. Or maybe biking around town, during stay's with her grandparents. You very well could have seen her at Wall Drug (now Thrifty White Drug) getting candy. Just an ordinary girl. You probably didn't know it then, but you were seeing a future Olympian.
If you didn't know the little girl, you probably did know her mom, Mary Martin. Mary grew up in Perham, the daughter of Walter and Mildred Martin, and graduated from Perham High School in 1972. The little girl is Mary's daughter, Megan Kalmoe. This weekend, Megan will be representing the U.S.A. at the Bejing Olympics in China on the rowing team.
Kalmoe, 25, earned a spot on the team by winning the 2008 National Selection Regatta No. 2 in late April. She then finished fourth in June at the 2008 Rowing World Cup Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland with double sculls partner Ellen Tomek (Flint, Mich.).
The 2006 graduate of the University of Washington with degree's in Latin and English, fondly remembers her visits to Perham.
"We'd often spend longer periods of time in Perham during the summer at grandma's and grandpa's house, which was always fun," Megan said. "More often than not, we'd time our visits to coincide wit the Otter Tail County Fair, which I?absolutely loved."
Mary is married to Dean Kalmoe, who grew up in Appleton, Wisc. She runs The Law Offices of Mary K. Martin in St. Paul. The family currently lives in St. Croix Falls, Wisc., where Megan graduated from in 2000.
"My mom lived near us the last five years of her life, and she subscribed to the paper, so I usually was able to keep up on the news by reading her paper," Mary said. "My cousins also help me keep up to date."
Mary and Dean are planning on making the trip to China.
Megan began rowing during her sophomore year at the University of Washington in 2002 as a walk-on. She said the team relies heavily on walk-ons, especially high school athletes who didn't pursue a sport in college. At 5'10", Megan says she is average sized for rowing, which favors tall body types.
"Within a few weeks, ?I was really enjoying learning a new sport," she said.
After enduring a difficult winter of training in her first year, her hard work and dedication paid off.
"I wanted to quit almost every day because of how different and more intense the training was than anything I'd ever done before," Megan said. "But I absolutely hate to quit anything, so I promised myself I would finish the year before I quit. I made it to spring and made the top freshman boat and realized all the hard work was totally worth it when I got to travel all over the west coast and race other teams."
She eventually earned a full athletic scholarship and was a three-time letter winner. As team captain her senior year, Megan was named to the All Pac-10, Western Region and All-America Teams.
"I didn't consider becoming an elite rower until 2005, when I participated in an annual Under-23 camp which selects development athletes for competition at the U-23 world championships," Megan said. "I was named to the 2005 U-23 team and proceeded to win a gold medal in the women's four that summer at the FISA World Championships. I realized there could be more to rowing following college, and so moved to Princeton (N.J.) in 2006 to join the nation's other top athletes at the National Training Center here. I've been here ever since."
Megan will be present in Bejing for the Opening Ceremonies on Aug. 8, but the rowers will not be marching in the procession. They will begin competition on Aug. 9.
"I actually don't have much planned in terms of sightseeing for while I am in Beijing," she said. "As of right now we are meant to stay for the entirety of the games, but it will depend on whether or not there will be room for us all of that time in the athlete village. Since the rowing venue is about 30 minutes away from the village we will be staying at a hotel closer to the race course for the first week of the Games and then possibly moving back to the village if there is space for the remainder of the Games."
If she could choose, Megan said she'd like to watch the flat water kayak and track and field, since she is friends with many of those athletes from the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.
Among the things Megan would like to do after her rowing career is complete is to travel to all the world's largest and most celebrated parties including Carnival, Mardi Gras, New Year's Eve on Times Square, Oktoberfest and the Superbowl. She'd like to travel to all of the U.S. National Parks, hike the Appalachian Trail, coach college rowing, and write an Academy Award-winning screenplay. First, she'd like to win an Olympic Medal.
"I feel like I've jumped one hurdle just to face a great many more," she said. "In sports, there is always something to continue working towards. Just getting a ticket to Beijing isn't enough for me. I am overwhelmingly proud and overjoyed to have the opportunity to represent my country in China this summer. I?hope I?can compete at a high level and honorably represent my country."
Perham native Mary Martin is now the proud mother of a U.S. Olympian.
Here's a quick look at some of Mary's local relatives:
Aunts and Uncles:
Roy and Elsie Martin (Perham);
Lucile Rosen (Perham).
Joanne Koenemann, Nancy Poulson and
Lynn Wilson (Perham).
Cindy Becker and Tom and Dennis Anderson (New York Mills).