BILLINGS - Billings West High School graduate and United States Olympian Mary Osborne Andrews was the special guest athlete for Friday's 36th annual Big Sky State Games Opening Ceremonies at Daylis Stadium.
Andrews' decorated career included a spot on the 1980 U.S. Olympic women's javelin team and three qualifications for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1980, 1984 and 1992. Additionally, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement.
She was a five-time Class AA state track and field champion for West before becoming a two-time All-American at Stanford University and a four-year captain of the track and field team.
Andrews is the sister of Tom Osborne, Big Sky State Games founder, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year.
She visited one-on-one with MTN Sports prior to Friday night's BSSG Opening Ceremonies in Billings.
MTN Sports: Of all the sports, and specifically track and field events you could've chosen, why javelin?
Andrews: It’s a great question, because I obviously loved the game of basketball. That’s like the Billings Osborne's tradition, and I grew up playing basketball in the backyard. So I like to introduce myself as a basketball player who happened to make the Olympic team throwing javelin. The reason I did it is because it was one of the few sports for girls the time. So I played basketball and (did) track and field and middle school -- at Will James, I guess it was called junior high, right? I threw shot put and discus, so it was only natural when I got to West High, the coaches said, hey you should try javelin. I was very natural at it and had one of the best throws in the country my senior year as a prep athlete. So I was really good at it."
MTN Sports: The 1980s Summer Olympics were in Moscow (Russia), correct? What was that like?
Andrews: "Well, as you may recall Jimmy Carter boycotted those Olympics, so every 1980 Olympian has their own experience with it. My experience was, I was young, I was a freshman at Stanford, I made the Olympic team, a kid from Billings Montana. So, when I made the time it was like Disneyland. You get the uniform, you get the swag, you go to Europe, we competed against everyone including the Russians. In fact, in Italy, I missed the bus to training at the stadium, and you figure out a way to get there. So, I just got on the next bus and it was the Russian bus. And it made no difference. Although we weren’t going to Moscow, they welcomed me with no problem because we were just athletes. And that’s really to me spirit of the modern Olympic games through Pierre . The purpose is to create a better and more peaceful world through the youth participate in sport. And I could just get on the Russian bus."
MTN Sports: What a great story. You’re back home now. What’s your feeling?
Andrews: "This is my hometown. Like I've always said, wherever my husband and sons are is home, and my soul is always in Montana. In fact, my mom, when she gave my husband a book of pictures from Montana, said, you can take the gal out of Montana but you can’t take Montana out of the gal. I haven’t been back much recently, so it’s a wonderful experience to be back in my hometown (and) just walk down Memory Lane -- we went to Park Lane where I first grew up -- (and to) connect with siblings and family members and the class of West High 1979. And the Big Sky State Games, which is such a big part of this community and such a big part of Tom Osborne‘s legacy."
MTN Sports: Huge part of your family, so his vibe this weekend is as big as it’s ever been. And you as a speaker and torch lighter tonight, how are you remembering and honoring him this weekend?
Andrews: "Tom loved to play and I today really approach as an opportunity to play, in his memory and in his spirit because that’s what he really wants us all to do is play, compete, and really celebrate sport has such a beautiful thing that builds community."