When they first met, “Little Adam” was an open-hearted eight-year-old boy, hungry for a male role model. His mother, Lorraine Pawlivsky-Love (BFA ’00, MEd ’05) was a UVic Fine Arts student, struggling to raise two small children alone. “Big Adam,” better known as Adam Kreek, was then 22, a UVic geography student and a member of the Vikes men’s rowing team. Somehow, despite the demands of training, studying and getting to know his future wife (Rebecca Sterritt, BA ’05 ), Kreek decided to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. “I felt there was a hole my life. I was leading a very focused, selfish life,” reflects Kreek, now 37. He recalls the positive-feedback-loop concept from Geography 101 with Professor Philip Dearden—you put energy in, you get more energy out. So, Kreek found himself sitting in the Big Brothers office and literally choosing Little Adam from a list of potential candidates.

“Big Adam” Kreek and “Little Adam” Love on the UVic campus. Credit to Connor Pickard.

Adam Love describes himself as having a difficult back story. When introduced to Kreek, he ran up and grabbed his hand. “Adam was so full of energy and so positive…here’s an awesome father figure 101, super-condensed.” The two got along right away and would spend time outside, go to track meets and generally horse around. The two Adams recall the time they rowed out to Darcy Island and camped overnight when Love was 15. The outdoor adventure involved a plunge into the Pacific Ocean as a morning wake-up. “My hands were just ripped to shreds,” says Love.

Maybe that’s to be expected when you paddle with an Olympian. Adam Kreek holds an Olympic gold medal in rowing for men’s eights. Love remembers getting a call from Kreek after he won the medal in 2008. It was the teen’s first call ever from Beijing—one that Kreek likes to joke was made collect. Kreek is now a father of three, a management consultant, an executive coach—and a future author, with his book (part memoir, part motivational tips) expected in September 2019. Love, now 25 and a UVic computer-science student, is no longer little. In fact, both men claim to be the same height: “six-foot-four and a half.” The Adams have grown together over the years. Spending time with Love was good training for Kreek to later become a father. In turn, Love discovered what it was like to grow up with a caring male role model in his corner—one who is still there for him today.

Rhonda Brown, executive director of the Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter for Southern Vancouver Island, says their team helped 560 kids find mentors last year. Some teens are so eager for companionship that they phone the office themselves, says Brown. Big Brothers Big Sisters requests a one year commitment with the goal that, like the Adams, the mentorship will continue longer. “We hope we’ve sparked a relationship that endures time,” she says. The organization always needs two things: volunteers and financial support—so they can do more. If you can help with either, please visit victoria.bigbrothersbig sisters.ca/ or call 250-475-1117.

This story by Jenny Manzer originally appeared in the Winter 2018 UVic Torch Alumni Magazine.