Words by Geoff Bird and Tim van der Kooi
Reporting by King’s Investigative Workshop
The front hallway of the century-old house that is home to the North Star Rowing Club is adorned with photos of champions. The stills capture moments of triumph and pride in the lives of young athletes through the years.
Bob Sawler, head coach, points to his own picture, and that of his father. Farther along, he stops at a photo of a young man with a strong athlete’s build and dark hair, a rower who appears driven and focused.
The young man is Patrick Convey, who was named male athlete of the year by Sport Nova Scotia in 2007. He grins atop the podium after winning the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Sawler says as a coach, just like as a parent, you remember your athletes’ triumphs, when they stand up on that podium for the first time. You remember the tough times too.
“People say that I’m tough on the outside and soft on the inside.” Sawyer says, reflecting upon when he cried the time he saw Patrick win his first gold medal.
“I cried for him then, and I cried for him the day I heard he was gone.”
On June 10 last year, Sawyer was setting up the living room of the clubhouse for the club’s annual wine tasting event, a fundraiser for the club and its athletes.
Two of his board members were standing by a large open window overlooking Lake Banook in Dartmouth.