'They're loud like crazy'

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

Jamie Forsythe heard his aunt cheering loudly from Section 10 of a hushed Civic Centre.

Thankfully, she didn't bring the cowbell.

Forsythe was relieved that Sherry Mangan didn't bring that monstrosity to his junior men's short program at the Canadian figure skating championships yesterday, like she did during a recent sectional competition.

With all the clanging, the Kingston skater thought the bell was a little over the top.

But family is family, and Forsythe is thrilled that a "couple of carloads" of relations and friends are making the short trip from Kingston and Gananoque to make some noise this week when he lands his jumps.

"They're loud like crazy, but they're all behind me win or lose, and that's a good feeling," he said.

Joe and Joanne Forsythe, his mother and father, are here, along with maternal grandmother Mavis Jeffries.

His other grandparents regretfully couldn't make the trip, but they're following the results from home and sending messages of encouragement over the phone.

As for Aunt Sherry, she's pretty special.

"An amazing woman, and I love her to death," said the 18-year-old Forsythe.

She takes some credit for getting her nephew into skates for the first time.

"I taught him how to stand on his skates on the pond when he was little," she said. "But after that, the coaches took it over."

LOYAL FAN

So proud is she of her nephew that her world almost literally revolves around his skating career.

Last summer, she told a prospective employer that she wouldn't accept a job offer if she couldn't take off the week of the Canadians. She did receive an offer, and works in Gananoque as a counsellor for people with critical illnesses and their families.

Three years ago, just days before the Eastern Challenge in Fredericton, Forsythe's family went through a loss of its own.

Ryan Mangan, Aunt Sherry's son, lost a lifelong battle to Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease, a degenerative disorder of the brain. He was only 21, but lived much longer than the 11 years doctors originally estimated.

One of his favourite things, like his mother, was to watch his cousin skate.

"He loved being at the rink," said Forsythe. "He would be there in his wheelchair."

When Ryan Mangan died, Forsythe's first instinct was to stay at home and be with his family. Some relatives told him to go to Fredericton and win for his cousin.

"I felt guilty that I couldn't be with my family," he recalled. "Everyone just said that I had to go skate and that I had a job to do."

He ended up winning the novice men's competition, his first major victory at a regional.

"Everybody was sending Jamie cards and telling him to win for Ryan," said Joanne Forsythe. "I didn't say anything because I felt the pressure for him.

"But he went out and did it."

In Section 10 of the Civic Centre yesterday, the Forsythe Fanatics had several occasions to make some noise after their favourite placed fourth -- despite battling a cold -- in the junior short program.

METIVIER LEADS

Karolin Metivier of St-Victor, Que., leads the event, followed by Jeremy Ten of Vancouver and Joey Russell of Labrador City, Nfld.

Aunt Sherry brought letters stuck to sticks that spell Forsythe's first name. She stood to clap and cheer, holding the letter M, at the end of his performance. When he looked up at them in the crowd, she turned it upside down and showed a W.

Aunt Sherry will get another chance to whoop it up tomorrow when Forsythe performs his free program.

So far, there's no word if she'll bring out the cowbell for that one.


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