Perdita Felicien has all types of titles: Olympian, world champion hurdler, Illinois Hall of Famer, mom, TV host.
Time so as to add one other: best-selling writer.
The delight of Canada simply launched her first book: “My Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir of Struggle and Triumph.”
Published by Penguin Random House Canada, the book is receiving rave evaluations.
“Basically, this is a story that I’ve never discussed as an athlete,” Felicien instructed me this week. “Not on campus. Not on the Olympic level.”
Part of the book is set in Champaign-Urbana, the place Felicien starred for coach Gary Winckler.
Now 40, Felicien tells her mom Catherine’s immigration story to Canada. Catherine was dwelling within the small Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.
“The way she immigrates here (to Canada) is pretty incredible,” Felicien mentioned.
Catherine was a teen mom who had dropped out of college years earlier. She met a wealthy couple from Canada, who have been vacationing within the space.
Catherine volunteered to babysit for them and finally the couple introduced her to Canada.
In Canada, Catherine bought pregnant with Perdita. Catherine needed to determine whether or not to maintain her baby, which the book particulars.
“She doesn’t have any legal status (in Canada),” Felicien mentioned.
Other challenges offered themselves. Including discovering shelter for the household.
“I’m with my mother, experiencing these figurative hurdles of homelessness, of poverty, of displacement, of abuse, as my mother’s trying to get traction in this country,” Felicien mentioned.
The many hurdles Catherine needed to clear turned symbolic as her daughter became a world class hurdler.
“The book weaves our story together as mother and daughter,” Felicien mentioned.
Unexpected pathFelicien found athletics, which opened up alternatives.
“My mother knew sports existed, but she wasn’t aware it was a vehicle to anything,” Felicien mentioned. “Her focus was making a living.”
When the University of Illinois despatched Felicien her scholarship provide, the letter spelled out the worth of the grant, $25,000 per 12 months. A full trip.
“My mother came into my room and she was so excited because I would be the first one in my family to ever go to university,” Felicien mentioned. “She desperately wanted that for me.”
At first, Catherine misunderstood the letter, considering the determine listed was what the household would owe if Felicien accepted.
“She thought it was a bill,” Felicien mentioned. “That was so out of her realm and her world.”
Tears of pleasureCatherine by no means noticed her daughter compete at Illinois. Travel was too costly. And she had youthful children to maintain.
She did attend her daughter’s commencement ceremony on May 15, 2004. They sat in Felicien’s small condo on Locust Street.
“We cried and we cried and we cried,” Felicien mentioned. “It was the top of a pyramid for us. Here I am living the dream that she wanted. She didn’t want me to sit on the beach. She wanted us to have more and do more. She wanted an education for us.”
Felicien felt compelled to inform the story now. She didn’t share it with her Illini teammates or coaches. Partly as a result of she didn’t know all the small print.
Felicien began writing her book in 2014. Before transferring ahead with the undertaking, she requested for her mom’s permission.
Felicien was decided to not have her book be one other “jock memoir.”
She went to the University of Chicago’s author’s studio for 2 years.
“I studied to write,” Felicien mentioned. “I think people come to the book because of who I am. Word of mouth has really caught fire. That’s what is going on.”
Felicien plans to put in writing extra books. Her subsequent can be on motherhood, ambition, parenting and her fertility struggles.
These days, Felicien has lots to maintain her busy. She and former Northwestern soccer participant Morgan Campbell have a 2-year-old daughter Nova.
Felicien hosts a actuality present “All-Around Champion,” which asks athletes to coach and compete in one another’s sports activities.
“That’s my main gig,” she mentioned.
Felicien additionally handles Olympic telecasts for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Will Nova be a hurdler?
“She better,” Felicien mentioned. “My Canadian record is 17 years old. It’s very dusty. I’m putting pressure on Nova to break it if it doesn’t get broken before then.”