Dare To Dream…

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Michelle Szulc

First of all, I would like to thank Island Sports News for this opportunity to share my experiences as an anthem singer! I feel very privileged, and I hope you guys enjoy reading about my journey thus far!

My name is Michelle Szulc (pronounced like “Schultz” – I know you will not be believe me, but trust me on this one!), and I am a 20-year-old student that goes to Simon Fraser University. Aside from completing a double major in Statistics and Criminology (with a 3.56 cumulative GPA), I also work as a research assistant on a 12 yearlong project that studies incarcerated, serious and violent young offenders. I guess you can call me a student by day, and an aspiring singer by night!

I first started singing when I was 7-years-old in church, and better yet, in my first language: Polish! My parents then decided to sign me up for voice lessons a few years later. I now work with a wonderful voice teacher and musician, Sara Zacharias, who has definitely helped me come a long way! I play a number of instruments, and have also completed my level 10 in piano in RCM Music. I further sang in my high school choir for 4 years, and it was during my grad year, that my music teacher, Jill Sparrow-Ng, asked me to sing the Canadian Anthem for my grad valedictorian ceremony. Little did I know, but this would be the first time I would lead the Canadian (and later American) anthem for over (what feels like) 100 times.

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I have dedicated the last few years, especially since September 2010, to singing the anthem at sports events and other venues. I have sang for the North Delta Devils and Richmond Sockeyes in the PIJHL, the Surrey Eagles, Coquitlam Express and Langley Rivermen in the BCHL, the 2010 Presidents Cup (Lacrosse Nationals), the Vancouver Giants and former Chilliwack Bruins in the WHL, AAA High School Boys Basketball Provincials 2010, 2011 and future 2012, the Vancouver Canadians Baseball, and I am the regular singer for all Varsity Sports events at my school SFU, and will be singing for their club hockey team in the new year. Most recently, I also sang for an amazing charity event featuring Coquitlam Firefighters and Canucks Alumni benefiting PoCoMo Youth services. During a Coquitlam Express game, Jerome Bouvier, the director of PoCoMo Youth, was selling tickets to the event, and invited me to sing for this benefit. Not only have I thanked him a number of times for this honor, he is also an extraordinary individual, who has inspired me to continue working harder to achieve my dreams. During the charity hockey game, and a number of the other sports events, I have also sung songs of my choice during the intermission!

The biggest crowd I have performed in front of at this point is 14,000 people at a Vancouver Giants game in the 2010/11 season – I love singing for a big crowd, and having everyone sing and cheer along! I have also met some incredible individuals, such as Global TV anchor, Kaitlyn Herbst, the voice of the Vancouver Canucks, John Ashbridge, and retired hockey players, Glenn Hall and Gordie Howe! I have also sang in the presence of Canuck Alumni Cliff Ronning, Kirk McLean and Thomas Gradin! I hope to continue this journey, to meet more inspiring people, and most importantly to achieve my dream of singing for my favorite team, the Vancouver Canucks! I feel that I have also met and made new friends, that continue to support me in my endeavors. My number one fan, however, has to be my dad – he will be at every event I sing at, asking me whether I want it filmed, or I would prefer pictures. I really hope he knows how much I appreciate this!

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My friends always ask me if I get nervous doing this, and I think you may be surprised to hear that I get nervous EVERY time. I always want to make sure I do the best job I can, to honor my country (as well as the United States) every time I sing the anthem, and further when I perform a cover by a recording artist. It never fails to make me laugh when people send me videos of individuals forgetting the words to the anthem, or falling on the ice. Thanks guys!

In the near future (next season), I am definitely hoping to make it out to Vancouver Island to sing for a Victoria Royals Game! I also have some other immediate goals, but I am going to have to keep those a surprise.

But to wrap things up, I encourage everyone who finished reading this to follow me on twitter (@michelleszulc) for updates on where I will be singing next, or to ask me questions, and also to check out the video link on the ISN home page, where I covered Adele’s hit “Turning Tables” during a Surrey Eagles intermission!

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