TRURO, N.S. - “All before breakfast.”
That is the small addition Paula MacDonald would have added, if space allowed, to the inscription on the plaque which is part of the bench dedicated to her close friend Veronica ‘V’ McMillan (Overmars) – originally from St. Andrews, Antigonish County – who passed away last summer following an accident while cycling.
The bench is by the skating oval in Truro’s Civic Square and reads; “In Memory of Veronica ‘V’ McMillan. Play, run, swim, have fun, inspire others!”
MacDonald, who played fast-pitch with her friend for a number of years on the MacDonald’s Insurance entry in the Truro Business Ladies Softball League, talked about the ‘before breakfast’ thought.
“I love what the bench plaque says but I wanted to end it with that,” she said. “If you ever knew anybody who knew Veronica … you could arrive at a ball tournament and be playing at 8:30 a.m., and Veronica would have already been up swimming laps.”
McMillan’s athletic prowess, which stretched from the ball field, to the pool, to the golf course, hockey rinks, kayaking, snowboarding, earned her a well- deserved Truro Sports Heritage Society senior female athlete of the year award, in 2012.
MacDonald noted that is the reason a bench, in an area promoting a family-fun, healthy, outdoor activity, is an appropriate tribute to McMillan – a tireless athlete who inspired and brought joy to all those competing with her, against her, beside her.
“Veronica was a true teammate,” Marilyn Roode, who played first base on the MacDonald’s team, said. “She was a friend who cared about you and your family; and on the ballfield, she always gave 110 per cent.”
MacDonald talked more about her friend’s athletic versatility and willingness to try new sports.
“Veronica laughed a lot at herself, as she would try any sport,” MacDonald said.
“The one she definitely stuck with was swimming as she was a master swimmer and swam competitively as a senior. She was playing organized hockey, which she just started in her 40s. She snowboarded and skied regularly; in the summer she golfed regularly as well as biking and running. She would always swim or run before heading to work in the morning.”
Veronica’s husband Doug, of 35 years, also talked about her participation in numerous sports.
“I could run out of fingers real quick telling you all the things Veronica did; ballplayer, played some hockey, soccer, we kayaked, golfed together with friends, and was a skier for a number of years,” he said, noting she took up snowboarding as an evolution to skiing.
“She loved the ski hill; loved to get out there with the puffy, powder snow,” Doug said, while also noting her swimming prowess which including national competition and even a World’s Master event.
Doug also talked about the bench being in an ideal location.
“Paula asked me a while ago if I was OK with [dedicating a bench] and I said yes, certainly,” he said.
“And I’m very pleased with the location; it’s sitting right in front of the library, rink-side, park-side, so whatever activities are going on there, people will see it.
“Quite often I go by and look over and there is someone sitting on the bench because of the great location it happened to end up in.”
While the dedicated bench has been in place for a couple of months, MacDonald and other organizers have set-up an unveiling ceremony/skating party for Saturday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m.
“We, her former teammates, as well as friends and family, are getting together to unveil the bench and have a skating party,” MacDonald said, noting the event idea was originally planned for around Christmas, when McMillan’s daughter Justine was home in Truro, from out west. She said weather issues delayed the ice being in, and that’s when a new date was decided upon.
“It was Lesley Evans, Rachel DeVries and I; Lesley and Rachel both played hockey with Veronica too (as well as ball),” MacDonald said about those who came together to organize and fundraise for the bench.
“I looked after the ball league, the ladies fast-pitch league, and they looked after the hockey end, and we received more than enough money for the bench – it was $1,500. Rachel, a teacher, is going to look after the rest and create an award in Veronica’s honour.”
MacDonald said she is also grateful to personnel involved with the Civic Centre because, after noting there was only one bench left to purchase as a dedication and it was set away from the skating oval – closer to Forrester Street – the bench ended up being right beside the ice; the perfect place to lace up skates and immediately start striding.
“They moved the bench and put it front and centre by the ice … that’s where I wanted it [originally], so that was awesome,” MacDonald said, the appreciation coming out in her tone.