Starkman Will Be Missed

The Toronto Star
Published on Sat Apr 21, 2012

Re: ‘One of a kind,’ April 17

The collective narrative of Canadian sport could be our greatest asset. I never met Randy Starkman, but I frequently benefited from his insight on Canadian sport.

As I read the many words of tribute from the community he covered though, I think I am struck most by this amazing evolution in our national sport system. And while the growing efficiency of how the system secures funding, thinks before it spends and spends efficiently will be pivotal in ensuring sustainable high performance success in the future, I almost wonder if this collective narrative that Randy was at the heart of isn’t our most powerful asset.

As I imagine Randy excitedly telling Clara Hughes about Mary Spencer and then I read Clara, Adam and others recount the power and importance of Randy’s storytelling and ability to listen, I can’t help but observe how a collective narrative and pride is building and strengthening amongst Canadian athletes who compete on land, water, snow and ice alike.

These shared stories inspire, and inspiration brings strength such that if we keep augmenting the power of this collective narrative, our team will boast an asset few other national teams can touch.

Hosting a Games and establishing national resources such as Own the Podium, help tremendously, as do the remarkable efforts of the Canadian Olympic Committee, the National Sport Federations, the Canadian Sport Centre Network and the broader sport system.

But perhaps the simplest and most impactful investment we can all make is to continue Randy’s legacy of telling and sharing the stories of Canadian sport such that it inspires the collective team and ultimately helps me persuade my kids to get out the door in time for practice.

Tomorrow instead of just telling them they should get there on time, I will instead show them yesterday’s image of Josh Cassidy winning the Boston Marathon. That should get them out the door and by the sounds of it is how Randy would have told the story.

Bill Cooper, North Vancouver

When the Special Olympics World Winter Games came to Toronto and Collingwood in 1997, journalist Randy Starkman covered every detail, sharing many stories of achievement, loss and triumph with Star readers. He would later write that covering this competition was “a reporter’s dream, with stories that were compelling and heartfelt.”

While his support of amateur athletes is well-established, less known is his enthusiastic support of Special Olympics and its athletes. In this media icon, we knew we had an amazing supporter; one who would to take the time get to know his subjects, and respectfully offer their inspiring stories in rich detail.

Whether he wrote about our year-round programs or flagship events like world games, Mr. Starkman’s storytelling helped challenge mindsets. He helped dispel misconceptions about people with an intellectual disability, and raised awareness about the true abilities of Special Olympics athletes.

We are grateful for this support, and honoured to have called Mr. Starkman a friend.

Lindsay Glassco, President & CEO, Special Olympics Canada, Toronto

With a heavy heart, I said goodbye to my long-time friend Randy Starkman on Thursday afternoon.

It was just a month ago when we last got together at the Real Sports bar to watch the Boston Massacre as the Bruins pummeled the Leafs 8-0. The game was a joke, but we could have cared less as we enjoyed each other’s company and shared many a laugh.

I’m still numb to the fact that the last time I would ever see him was when we said our good-byes that night as he got off the subway train at Spadina station.

Randy and I first met at a sports celebrity breakfast at the Royal York Hotel over 20 years ago. He was there on assignment for the Star, and I was fortunate enough to be invited as a resident at the time of Bloorview Children’s Hospital.

A few months later, while volunteering at the institution where I spent nearly 13 years of my life, Randy came to Bloorview, bringing with him future hockey superstar Eric Lindros. Getting to meet Lindros was a thrill, but befriending Starkman was truly a blessing I’m most thankful for.

Seriously thinking about a career in journalism as I neared the end of my high school days, we briefly talked about my future and he invited me to come down to the office for lunch.

I was in heaven when I entered the Star newsroom. I felt such a buzz and knew right then and there I wanted to be a writer.

We had several more lunch dates over the next year before Randy very kindly took me on as a high school co-op student for three months to wrap up my high school education. Who better to learn from than the best?

Not only was he the nicest guy to be around, Randy was an inspiration.

I would come into the office several times a week, acquiring a wealth of knowledge from one of the country’s best sports reporters, while also accompanying him to press conferences and occasionally, out on assignment.

Randy would often ask for my input and feedback while he worked. I was flattered that he thought so highly of me, being a two-time National Newspaper Award winner.

I was just a high school student trying to get into university at the time, but he saw tremendous potential in me and believed that I had a knack for the business.

While at the Star, he got the go-ahead allowing me to begin work on a feature about the lack of wheelchair accessible seating at Maple Leaf Gardens. I poured my heart into this piece and, under his guidance, turned the article into a front-page story in the Sports section.

I can’t thank Randy enough for everything he did for me over those few months and the ensuing years of our friendship. I learned so much more from him about the craft than I would in any Ryerson classroom.

His guiding hand, generosity, and kindness meant the world to me. May his soul rest in peace.

Eli Shupak, Toronto

Randy Starkman was my first cousin. He, like his amateur athlete compatriots, chose to toil in the trenches of pure sport, rather than bask in the spotlight of the “big leagues” of professional sport.

He was empathy personified to the amateur competitor. They related to him, felt his compassion and knew he would be unrelenting in his attention to accurate detail. Above all else, he was a gentleman, a scholar, humanitarian and family man.

I thank you, Star staff, for giving him a fitting tribute. The outpouring of love and admiration from everyone from colleagues to casual readers is overwhelming. When a person who chooses to undertake a role, shunning the spotlight in order to shed light on those lacking appreciation but deserving, they do so out of love.

Randy loved amateur sport and, apparently, it loved him back in dividends. It was his calling and he answered it.

There is a void in the sporting universe and, hopefully, the benchmark he set will inspire a new generation of journalists. You will be sorely missed as a family member, friend, unbiased advocate and teller of truth.

Rest in peace.

Richard Gillman, Kitchener