10 Things We Like About Mark Tewksbury

Olympic athlete, activist, actor and motivational speaker, Mark Tewksbury, LLD’10, finds purpose in empowering others to lead — and joy in the Mediterranean, the Elbow River and his supportive husband

If you could do anything for a living, what would it be?

I’m a secret home chef. When I go into the kitchen, my husband and I joke that I’m starting my shift. I’ll roast tomatoes for four hours to make a sauce. But I’m afraid if I cooked for a living, I’d lose my passion for it.

When and where were you happiest in your life?

The last time I felt enormously happy was on the banks of the Elbow River where I plunked down my chair and put my feet in the water. The greenery there is so gorgeous, and it all made me feel so fresh, and the water sounded beautiful as it moved and rushed around us. But I believe happiness is fluid — and you can’t know happiness unless you know other moods.

Who or what has had the greatest impact on the person you’ve become?

The Olympic movement, from the time I was a child and captivated to watch Bud Greenspan’s Olympic documentaries in black and white to now being vice-president of the Canadian Olympic Committee. Through the Olympics and the University of Calgary, I met [synchronized swimming champ-turned-coach] Debbie Muir [BEd’75] — together, we created our leadership training program that allowed us to take our skills from high-performance sport to business and life. As an Olympic competitor, Debbie was my secret secret-weapon coach — it was the first time in history that a female synchro coach worked with a male competitive swimmer.

What do you like most about yourself?

That I’m really comfortable in my own skin and that makes other people feel comfortable around me.

If you could travel anywhere you wanted today, where would you go?

I had a trip to Greece interrupted and cut short a few years ago and I’d like to go back — that would have been the first three-week holiday of my life and I’d like to try that again.

Describe the most beautiful place you’ve ever been.

The Mediterranean comes immediately to mind. The old part of Barcelona or Malta or the southern part of Italy. I love the way of life in those parts of the world, the way people eat and live. What strikes me is how important community and family is; I love that.

When you’re restless or unhappy, what do you do to improve your mood?

I hop on my bike and I travel Calgary’s most incredible pathways that I discovered during COVID. I didn’t have a bike for many years and now I’m on my bike every morning. This city is such a jewel from a bike.

Current guilty pleasure?

Big Rock Traditional beer and the Slice TV reality show, Below Deck. At least it’s in the Mediterranean…

Who or what in life brings you the most joy?

Thankfully, after 16 months of being together all the time, I can answer wholeheartedly that that is my partner, Rob Mabee [BA’92]. My life has kind of taken off because of meeting such a great human being who I get to be with.

If a song played whenever you entered a room, what would it be?

“Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone.

Mark Tewksbury, Hon. LLD’10, is a multiple medal-winning Olympic champion and a prominent advocate for the LGBTQ2S+ community worldwide. Alongside Debbie Muir, BEd’75, he developed the Great Traits Corporate Champions Program. He is deeply involved with the Special Olympics movement and the Canadian Olympic Committee. In 2020, Tewksbury was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest level of our country’s most prestigious honour.
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