LOCAL EDITORIAL: It takes a valley to raise a champion

Comox Valley athletes are competing on some large playing fields these days.

Comox Valley athletes are competing on some large playing fields these days.

Spencer O’Brien, for instance, will breathe the rarified air experienced only by those who reach truly Olympian heights.

O’Brien, with a reputation as one of the world’s most progressive slopestyle snowboarders, will represent Canada as her sport debuts at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

She’s earned her way there. The four-time Winter X Games medallist won the 2012 world snowboarding championship.

O’Brien and fellow Comox Valley athlete Carle Brenneman (snowboardcross) competed during the weekend at this year’s Winter X Games in Aspen.

Some of the best snowsport athletes in the world were in Colorado, many sizing up the competition they will face at the Olympics.

It’s a bittersweet time for Brenneman, who’s believed to have been close to an Olympic berth. She’s got four years to make the next Team Canada at the Winter Games.

In the meantime, watch for O’Brien in Sochi.

On a completely different – non-snowy – playing surface, Riley Wheeldon was in the same field as Tiger Woods at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open.

Wheeldon, representing Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community, qualified for the PGA event at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

Although the main burden of fitness, practice and desire is on the athlete, our point is that Comox Valley athletes cannot succeed without help.

Especially as children starting in a sport, they need the father who uses his bonus cheque to buy his son a new set of goalie pads, the working mom who drives her child to innumerable practices and games, the coach who spends extra time with a young player who’s eager to learn.

Let’s not forget companies that sponsor teams, and there are many others who contribute.

It takes a valley to raise a champion.