Paralympians McKenna Geer (para shooting), Sydney Collier (para dressage) and Rob Snoek (athletics/announcing). Photos courtesy of McKenna Geer, Sydney Collier and Rob Snoek.

Lightning Round with Paralympians Rob Snoek, Sydney Collier and McKenna Geer

Release Date: November 24, 2022

It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S., so we’ve got an all-Paralympic lightning round heading your way. First up is para shooter McKenna Geer. McKenna won bronze at Rio 2016 and also competed at Tokyo 2020 in air rifle.

Next we have para dressage rider Sydney Collier. Sydney finished seventh at Rio 2016 and was an alternate for the U.S.’ Tokyo 2020 team.

Finally, we’re joined by Rob Snoek, who competed for Canada in athletics, and has gone on to become a sports commentator.

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Photos courtesy of McKenna Geer, Sydney Collier and Rob Snoek.


Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note. 

Episode 263: Lightning Round with Paralympians Rob Snoek, Sydney Collier and McKenna Geer

Jill: Hello fans of Stan, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast four fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are you?

Alison: Hello. Happy Thanksgiving.

Jill: Happy Thanksgiving. Go, go, go

Alison: golf. I mean, how did Turkeys get to be told?

They sounded like gobble go. Cause they really don’t.

Jill: Good question. Good, good question. Who assigned the animal names? Because they’re different in different countries too. You know, our kadu do is Kiki Riki in, in some other country. . It’s very

Alison: specific. .

Jill: the roosters have popped into my head right away.

Hopefully you all are recovering from Thanksgiving dinners if you are celebrating. We’ve got a lightning round for you today. Today it is all Paralympians, which is pretty awesome.

McKenna Geer

Jill: McKenna was at competed at both Rio and Tokyo, and we have a little lightning round from her conversation with us prior to Tokyo. Take a listen.

What is your first memory of the Paralympics, or when did you become aware of the Paralympics existing?

McKenna Geer: I became aware when I was fairly young, actually. I was on a Paralympic swim team in Seattle and was actually a swimmer before I found shooting, so I was eight 10 when I first started swimming.

Jill: Okay, that’s gonna make me do math and that’s not happening right now. What was your first Paralympics that you remember?

McKenna Geer:

I knew that the Paralympics were around and I knew that they were a thing, but I really remember watching a friend of mine swim in London, so I was hoping to go to London for shooting, but I was just, I was too new. I had started in 2010. Mm-hmm. . So just way, way too new at that point. So I remember watching Friends swim and compete in London.

Jill: Okay. And London is really kind of a big turning point with coverage and people being excited about the Paralympics and going to watch Absolutely too.

McKenna Geer: Correct? Yeah, I believe so.


Jill: Where do you keep your medal?

McKenna Geer: It is on a bookshelf in my bedroom.

Jill: What is your favorite training exercise?

McKenna Geer: Ooh head to head competition, . Really enjoy getting to compete against some of my teammates at the training center.

Jill: What Paralympic sport other than shooting and we’re taking swimming off the books now. Cuz you let that cat bitt outta the bag, would you? Competing I

McKenna Geer: also did wheelchair basketball .

Alison: Oh geez. That was,

Jill: Now you say that, I remember that from one of, one of the other interviews. Yes. I,

McKenna Geer: Recreationally played wheelchair basketball in Seattle as well.

So at one point in time I had four sports. Occurring at once. Wait, what was when I was really, really little, there was just for fun disabled baseball team called Miracle League. Oh. That went on. So, you know, everybody had a number one on their back. It was just about getting out outdoors and playing together.

So nobody was ever out. No one struck out. You were there until you hit the ball and got to play until you reached home base. So .

Jill: Nice.

Alison: So other than all of those, Yeah. Is there one that you have not tried that you’d really like to give it a shot?

McKenna Geer: Murder ball. Sorry. Wheelchair Rugby.

Alison: Okay, now this concerns me because you were a shooter and now you wanna play murder ball. I’m a little concerned about the violent aspects. McKenna, you seem so sweet. Gentle shooting

It’s very true.

Jill: What about wheelchair rugby do you like?

McKenna Geer: Just how competitive it is, like just with shooting. I just like the competitive aspect of the sport and their. A hilarious team. We actually flew back with them. They were on our flight coming back from Rio. So gotta, talk to some of those guys and just, great people,

Jill: Did you get to watch any, any of it while you were in there? I

McKenna Geer: did not, I did not venture out much at all. My events were kind of spread out a little bit, and then when I was finished competing, we did a couple team activities. So I wish that I had the opportunity to go watch a couple other sports.

Jill: And then finally, other than your medal, what is your favorite Paralympic souvenir?

McKenna Geer: My mascot that I got with the medal. So, Tom was our mascot in Rio and we received a stuffed figuring of Tom and their, or his hair color matched the [00:05:00] color of our medal.

Jill: Oh, so he has bronze hair for you? .

Alison: That is very cool. I did not

Jill: know that. It looks like they’re just giving you a regular mascot. Yeah. Along with the thing. This is special for very, Where does Tom Thomas also on

McKenna Geer: a shelf in my bedroom. Has he met the teddy bear? I don’t I don’t think they’ve been, I don’t think they’ve been introduced quite yet.

Alison: Who knows what kind of insanity could happen if those two get together.

Jill: All right. Well that is it. Thank you so much for your time. Yeah, absolutely. This has been great.

You can follow McKenna on Facebook, Insta, and Twitter. We will have links to those in the show notes.

Alison: It’s almost like what sport hasn’t McKenna done? ,

Jill: She tried a lot before she found the one that worked for her

Alison: and you know what sport she’s going to be adding to her list. Pretty soon. Baby chasing, ah, baby Geer is due I think in December.

Jill: Good luck with that. Congratulations McKenna and husband, and we’re looking forward to seeing pictures.

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Sydney Collier

Jill: Moving on to our next Paralympic lightning round. We’re talking with Sydney Collier who is a para dressage rider. Sydney competed at Rio, and she was an alternate for Tokyo. Take a listen to her lightning round.

What is your first memory of the Paralympics? Or when did you first become aware that they existed?

Sydney Collier: That was in 2010 when I was watching the world equestrian games happen.

Jill: Well, that’s a loaded question because is as another Paralympian told us, watch, they’re never on tv. Did, were you able to see any of London.

Sydney Collier: I actually did watch online. That was after I found out about the Paralympic movement in Kentucky, and I was actually cheering on the para dressage team from my family’s home in Michigan.

and cheering on my friend and mentor Jonathan, we, as he competed in London.

Jill: If you could be a Paralympian in any sport except equestrian, what would you compete in?

Sydney Collier: Whoa, that’s hard. I’d say maybe cycling.

Because, I mean, kind of similar, you know, you get to ride something

Like, if, if you’re gonna take my horse away, then I mean, I might as well go to the next, best thing, right? or, or Weightlift. I can see myself being a good weight lifter. I really love.

Alison: Well, I keep putting in a ploy for getting dog agility into the Olympics, so I think Logan would be perfect for that.


Sydney Collier: yeah, I saw your video on.

Alison: It’s my new campaign.

Sydney Collier: So at In Rio actually, he journey, at the time my service dog, he wasn’t able to come with us just because of unknown quarantine periods. And in my worst fear is, Him having to be quarantined in a unknown country. So I just wouldn’t wanna take the chance and risk him having to stay longer in, in an unknown country to him when he is there to help me in, making that sacrifice to help me, so I wouldn’t want him to be stuck there.

Alison: So, of course I’m imagining, you know, all the service dogs getting together, having doggy play dates while the people are competing, right?

Sydney Collier: Well, well, I mean, the closest, the closest that we’ve come to that was actually at our White House visit after Rio in 2016. Logan got to. Another one of the service.

I mean, journey. Got to meet another one of the, Paralympic service dogs. And, when they’re in their working clothes, they don’t acknowledge other dogs. They’re just there to work. .

Jill: How does not having your service dog with you affect you, especially in Rio? I. [00:10:00] The biggest competition of your life so far. Did you have to learn other strategies that normally journey would’ve helped you with?

Sydney Collier: Yeah, I’d say I had to rely a little bit more on our PCAs. We had two PCAs there to help us as our little para dressage team, and I had to rely a little bit more on the people around me. Then I.

Too with having my service boss and I just had to keep in mind that I didn’t have him there and that. Things were gonna just be a little bit different . And, and I’d say like, you miss that relationship when they’re not around too. For a competition, you’re like, mm, I kind of miss my best friend

and so that took a little bit of adjustment, but by the time we got back from Rio, oh my, he and I.

Jill: What is your favorite training Exercise?

Sydney Collier: I really enjoy working on my geometry and also working on my serpentine, because those are something. I really struggle with being one-handed and with my vision, making them accurate, so practicing my serpent teams and my accuracy, I’d say is my favorite thing to do in training.

But then in the gym, my favorite thing to do is to pull the sled on the turf with weight. That’s my favorite thing ever.

Jill: Nice. You know, this just occurred to me, when you’re practicing your eight meter circles and your 10 meter circles, do you ever get dizzy or does a horse ever get dizzy?

Sydney Collier: No. Cause we, we don’t, cause they’re like, when you’re riding them, they last like 10 to 15 steps, so, okay.

So they’re. They’re not small enough to make us dizzy. Thankfully, as long as we drink enough water,

Alison: Water is the cure for everything,

Sydney Collier: Right? Water and food .

Alison: I know. It’s so, I got my, second covid shot yesterday, and everybody has been texting me, are you drinking enough water? Are you drinking enough water? I’m like, yes, I’m good. I have my cup. I’m good. ,

Sydney Collier: how are you feeling?

Alison: Oh, no, I’m, I’m so far feeling fine.

I did the windmill thing with my arm. Right. And it seemed to really help the soreness. Huh?

Sydney Collier: See, do the windmill thing. See, I got, I got my first one on I think it was like, Like a week ago, and I’ve been doing pretty well. I had a couple of days with really bad headaches. And of course for me that’s the one side effect that makes me just very wary because, with all of my strokes, they always come on with, with like a week long migraine and I’m.

Of course I have to get the headache

Alison: Well, for the second shot, do the windmill thing. Okay. I will, and it really helps. I

Sydney Collier: I was very tempted to get the first shot in Linda Windows my left arm, by the way. I was like, maybe cause I can’t feel it, that might be really good. But then I was like, oh, but she might pop up cause it won’t get dispersed at all.

Alison: Oh, that’s

Sydney Collier: so interesting. So I stuck, I stuck with righty .

Jill: Linda has a name and your right arm doesn’t, is that fair?

Sydney Collier: My right side is just perfect. They, they just get to stay. Righty. This is Linda, and then my left leg is glow. And that their names are in an effort for me to like them more.

Because I went through a long time where I was like, nah, I just wanna get the left arm amputated. Or like, nah, I’m just done with them and I’m trying to embrace them more. And that’s where the names came.

Jill: I think I see, I picture this as like Linda and Lois having adventures and then being like Laverne and Shirley and they’d have some kinda, I don’t know if the strong Midwest accent accent would be good for them, but I just instantly pictured and what capers he would get into.

Alison doesn’t know me anymore

Alison: because I immediately am thinking, oh, Linda and Lois would have a wonderful J salad. She has a

Jill: great recipe.

Alison: Love put marshmallows in it. It’s the lovely abro.

Sydney Collier: Pretty much. And then sometimes, sometimes in writing my Katie, my trainer here, she’ll, she’ll be like, she’ll be like, list Lois a little bit.

And then she’ll be like, no, wait, Linda, no, wait. Lois, no wait. Linda, like trying to remember which one is. Yeah, . And I’m like, and, and then, and then when she starts questioning it, I’m like, wait, [00:15:00] Linda or Lois? . .

Alison: And now, and now you have Linda, Lois, and Logan. I mean, this could be chaos in your house, , right?

Sydney Collier: It’s just like, what’s our word?

Are we talking about

Jill: I think we understood that the Paralympics does not do Do they first three places get medals?

Sydney Collier: The first three places get medals and then through eight gets ribbons. I in, in Rio, I I got a ribbon for. Seventh place I wanna say. And, and so that was quite an honor at my first Paralympic games.

And I was also riding in the largest grade at that time. So to come in seventh in, in my grade level with, I wanna say 22 other riders. Oh, wow. But was a big honor.

Jill: Where, where do you keep your ribbon?

Sydney Collier: It is currently here in Aox in Massachusetts Staying safe because I worry about hanging it up and it get getting dusty.

Jill: And finally, other than your ribbon? What is your favorite Paralympic souvenir?

Sydney Collier: All of my team here, all of my team gear. Cause that was just such. Surreal experience going to team processing and, and earning Nike and Ralph Lauren gear and, you know, an Omega watch that’s limited edition.

Obviously my paralympic rings that that is way up there. Like all of it, everything, everything. , like, I just feel so lucky to have had the opportunity and, to be blessed enough to be doing what I love. To have had that opportunity to represent the USA and also being contention to represent the USA once again in Tokyo.

Jill: Excellent. Thank you so much, Sydney. You can follow Sydney, her horse All in One who’s owned by her sponsor, Georgina Bloomberg, and her service dog, Logan, on Twitter and Insta, and you can check out her website for more information about her journey.

We will have links to all of those in the show notes.

Alison: See, Sydney’s one of my favorites cuz she supports my dogs in the Olympics plan,

And also how great must the service dog play dates be?

Jill: Well, is it great? Because, I mean, I guess you have to tell them they’re not working.

Alison: Right, because if the service dogs often can’t go in, we talked about this with Ness Murby and his service dog can’t go into the stadium, so they’re kept outside. So when they’re kept outside and not with their person, they’re not working.

You take off that vest and they can just run wild. I would buy tickets for that. It is an untapped market for Paralympic income.

Jill: The best dog park ever.

Alison: So much fun,

Rob Snoek

Jill: All right, finally, we are talking with Rob Snook. Rob competed in athletics but after he retired, has become a commentator, and we met him at Beijing 2022. Take a listen to his lightning.

What is your first memory of the Olympics?

Rob Snoek: Uh, I’m supposed to answer this fast, aren’t I? No, you

Jill: don’t have to answer fast. So we say lightning, but you know, it’s never lightning.

Rob Snoek: Something in Montreal in 1976, probably the the men’s high jump, Dwight Stones and Greg.

Jill: What has been your favorite Olympics or Paralympics to cover

or if you have one of each?

Rob Snoek: To cover?

Jill: Yeah. As a, as a broadcaster

Rob Snoek: To cover, London 2012, even though I worked like a crazy person and covered so much different stuff, I just loved because of how great of a job they did and that gave me great stories to tell.

Jill: As an athlete, what was your favorite training Exercise?

Rob Snoek: Hmm. Sleeping. No. Crazy enough, I, I fell in love with training and I, I used to love stretching. Like you as a sprinter, people don’t realize how much stretching is a big part of. getting you ready to perform at a high level. And I think it was, even though I didn’t ever do yoga per se, I think it was kind of like that zen state that you, you did that you kind of, even though you’re stretching your body, you kind of fell in love with that feeling of like resetting.

Jill: If you could do any sport besides athletics, what would you do? And be a, be a Paralympian in it or an Olympian if it’s not in a paralympic sport.

Rob Snoek: Wouldn’t it be wicked to be able to do a backside, triple cork, 1440 on a snowboard ? I mean, I think that would be so wicked. I’d love to try that. I’d love to be able to do that. Not try it. Cause just [00:20:00] trying it is not a good thing,

Jill: is there para halfpipe somewhere or are para athletes trying it?

Rob Snoek: Oh, I’m sure they are. I’m sure that they are. there was even a guy who did, uh, I think it was Josh, Josh dic, who was the chef de for the Canadian team for Beijing. I think he was the first one who did a summerall in his sit ski, if I’m not mistaken. So yeah, there’s people doing. I would also love to, I love both wheelchair basketball and sledge hockey, and so I would love to, it’s just, the problem is I can’t imagine myself being at the top level like that because I know what it takes to get there and I don’t want to do that part.

Jill: All right. Finally, what is your favorite Olympic or Paralympic souvenir? Hmm.

Rob Snoek: Something in a box that I haven’t taken out in forever. . I dunno. I’m so bad you guys. I have no, I have stuff. I think it’s cool. I bring it home and then it just ends up in a drawer and then it ends up in a box. . Like maybe a backpack or something? Probably from like when I was competing. I don’t know. I guess it would be like when you compete, you get, even if you don’t win a medal, and sadly I never won a medal at the Paralympics, but they give you a like a big, heavy honking like participation medal.

So just that to kind of show. That you were there, that you were in the fray, that you were battling, you know, for the medals, I guess.

Alison: Do you know where yours are?

Rob Snoek: No. . You think I did ? I, I kinda have a decent guess though. I have a decent guess. .

Alison: Does your wife know where they’re ? She knows if they’re in a box somewhere over there in that area with the other boxes.

Rob Snoek: But I’m, I mean, I should we always talk about it. We should do a room or like get the office all nice and have like you. Like a singlet from when I competed in track and then the silver medal for that. I won the world championships and kind of have it displayed and, and then life happens and we had three kids.

And , now we have a grandchild actually. So life just keeps on happening and that’s, I think, more important.

Alison: Okay. you’re not that much older than being robbed, so that makes me feel very old that you have a grandchild,

Rob Snoek: Yeah, my daughter was 28 when, When he was born. So it wasn’t

Alison: even the Oh, that’s cuz you were 12 when you had your daughter. Okay,

Rob Snoek: I see . I was 23. Yeah. I actually won, I won a silver medal on my daughter’s birthday when she turned five and I was halfway across the world at the World Championships in Birmingham.

And so I felt really guilty that I wasn’t there for a birthday, so I gave her the medal. Somehow I got it back again though. Now I should probably give it back to her, but I don’t know if she’d really appreciated it. Maybe there’ll be a point in her life where Rick was back to her again. But anyway.

Alison: Okay.

Quick question before we go. What is something that you always bring with you when you go and you’re, you’re gonna be onsite?

Rob Snoek: well, the obvious things would be like pen and paper. I always prep my rosters beforehand, so I say if I’m doing sledge hockey or wheelchair basketball, I don’t show up there and like collect the roster. I’ve worked on it for three or four hours ahead of time and figured out who the players are and the numbers and the positions and the, all of that.

Is that what you mean? Something like that or, Yeah, no, just

Alison: Do you know you have the stash of cola and honey tea or anything? ?

Rob Snoek: I used to take Fisherman’s Friends when I used to call a lot more broadcast, a lot more events in a lot shorter time. Uh, Fisherman’s friends. And make sure my throat was okay.

excellent. But it’s funny, you know, when you broadcast different sports, you kind of have a routine that you get into when you, you kind of start, I at least I start big in terms of my preparation and then keep, kind of gets smaller and smaller and smaller, and then And then I get to the point where, it’s close to the event and then it feels like there’s this, like 50 sheets of paper, or I’m, I’m still kind of a paper person and, and then all of a sudden you have to like, like snap in it. Like, okay, there’s no way I’m gonna use 50 different things. So it’s like you boil down to like the two or three pieces that are gonna be absolutely the most.

And then over time, [00:25:00] regardless of what the sport is, I’ve kind of figured out that sort of piece of scripture that I have to have there in front of me that’s going to get me through this, next, broadcast.

Jill: Excellent.

Thank you so much, Rob. You can follow Rob on Twitter and Insta.

We will have links to those in the show notes.

Alison: Didn’t you feel better that his memory was from 1976?

Jill: Totally

Alison: and I, do have to say after we talked to Rob, I did try the Fisherman’s Friend loons that he recommended. Mm-hmm. , the taste is terrible, but man, do they work? Leave it to a Canadian.

Jill: Exactly. We uh, like to show our gratitude to you for listening, for being a part of our community, for sharing the show with your friends. it, it is such a privilege to be able to do this show, and we really appreciate all of your support and the way you make it even more fun to do the show every week.

Alison: .We have the best listeners out there. They are gold medal winning listeners.

Jill: So thank you so much for being part of our community. We really appreciate it, that we’ll do it for this week.

Let us know if you would buy a ticket to a service dog. Dog park at Paris 2024

Alison: and you can get in touch with us by email, flame alive pod

Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it. Our social handle is at Flame Alive Pod. And be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group on Facebook.

Jill: Uh, Next week we got a treat for you because I had the opportunity to go to Atlanta and got a behind the scenes tour of the archives at the Atlanta History Center.

I saw a lot of Izzy and a lot of stuff and I saw the exhibit that we talked about with Sarah Di on the Legacy of Atlanta 1996. So I have great interview set up for you next week. Be sure to tune in then. In the meantime. Thank you so much for listening and until then, keep the flame alive.