In the world of sports, Bobbie Rosenfeld had, what one might call, the “magic touch.” As it was once noted: “The most efficient way to summarize Bobbie Rosenfeld’s career…is to say that she was not good at swimming” (Jewsinsports.org). What is more amazing about her incredible sportsmanship is the fact that she had no formal athletic training.
Fannie “Bobbie” Rosenfeld was born in Dneipropetrovsk, Russia in 1904. Her family moved to Barrie, Ontario, when she was still an infant.
Rosenfeld’s competitive sports career began in 1923 when, at a recreational picnic, she defeated the standing Canadian champion, Rosa Grosse, in a 100-yard dash. In addition to competing in track and field events throughout the 1920s, Rosenfeld went twice with her YWCA basketball team to the national championships, played softball, lacrosse, golf, and won the Toronto Ladies Grass Court Tennis Championship in 1924 – the same year in which she took up the sport!
The timing for Rosenfeld’s athletic career couldn’t have been better. The Olympics of 1928 were the first Games to include women’s Track and Field, and Rosenfeld scored more points for Canada than any other Canadian athlete. She won gold for the 400 meter relay, silver for the 100 meters, and took fifth place in the 800 meters.
In 1929, Rosenfeld was struck with a crippling arthritic condition. Notwithstanding months on bedrest and crutches, Rosenfeld returned to sports in 1930. Over the next three years she became a champion softball player and one of the outstanding female ice hockey players in Canada.
Sadly, the arthritis returned in 1933, and Rosenfeld was forced to stop competing. Her career, however, was far from finished. Not only did she become a coach for multiple women’s sports, she also became a popular sports columnist for the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Rosenfeld passed away in Toronto in 1969.
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