Lynn schoolteacher Christine McCarriston has golden memories for a lifetime after returning from London where she attended the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
McCarriston, her husband Rick, a Swampscott Police officer, and their two daughters, Shanna, 17, and Jenna, 12, enjoyed a two-week trip to London and Paris that was highlighted by a taste of the entire Olympic experience.
McCarriston, daughter of well-known Lynn sports personality John Hoffman, planned the family vacation well in advance.
“It was March, 2010 when I made the plans,” said McCarriston. “I was online and I love the Olympics so I decided we would go.”
Her enthusiasm for the Olympics dates back to 1996 when she and her husband and their then 15-month-old daughter, Jenna, attended the Games in Atlanta, Georgia.
“We drove 22 hours to Atlanta and we went to U.S.A. women’s basketball and women’s volleyball and we absolutely had the trip of a lifetime,” said McCarriston. “So I just thought, let’s bring my daughters to the Eiffel Tower and London so they can say they went to the Olympics because that was always my dream.”
The family took a six-and-a-half-hour flight from Logan Airport to London’s Heathrow Airport. They spent 11 days touring London and Paris before returning to the English capital for the Olympics.
“We took the commuter rail and drove in to Earls Court and attended volleyball on July 31,” said McCarriston. “We saw two matches, Tunisia versus Serbia and Poland versus Bulgaria. We were cheering for Poland because all the Polish fans were around us, but Jenna cheered for Bulgaria because she felt they didn’t have enough fans [Bulgaria won the match].”
McCarriston had hoped to see the U.S.A. volleyball team in action.
“We tried to get tickets for the U.S.A. volleyball match that day, but you couldn’t buy tickets at the venue. That part of it was a little frustrating because we wanted to attend more events but buying tickets wasn’t an easy process.”
McCarriston said the people involved in the Games couldn’t have been more accommodating and helpful.
“As you walked up from the commuter rail, we met people who were really friendly and once you got to the venue, it was really exciting. The electricity inside the arena was unbelievable.”
The McCarriston family also had an up-close look at the site of the beach volleyball matches and other Olympic-related attractions. “Our favorite thing was seeing London Bridge with the Olympic rings on it,” said McCarriston.
The family also visited Buckingham Palace where they witnessed The Changing of the Guard. Another highlight was seeing Big Ben, the world’s most famous clock tower. There were no sightings, however, of the Royal Family.
“The whole Olympics area and the city were really well organized – the place was beautiful and very clean; the Olympic rings were everywhere,” McCarriston said. “The day we attended the volleyball, there were so many Olympic workers there to assist you and they were all very happy. The security lines weren’t too long and everybody was so cheerful. It was a fabulous experience. The whole thing was a dream.”
McCarriston grew up in a sports-minded family where her father would often tell stories about the family’s proud athletic heritage. A graduate of Lynn English, she is a former cheerleader and cheerleading coach. Her husband ran track at Swampscott High School.
Prior to becoming a schoolteacher, McCarriston was a reporter for local newspapers and the editor of the Lynn Sunday Post.
Her daughter, Jenna, plays youth softball while Shanna is a dancer and musician who plays the violin and piano. “But Shanna is applying to college and wants to go in to sports broadcasting like her grandfather,” said McCarriston.