|In 1972 a young mother walked her two young children down to Pearkes Recreation Centre, referred to as Pearkes Arena in that day. She prepared her then five year old son to go skating while her 18 month old little girl sported outdoor rubber boots. The little boy would skate circles while the toddler sat in the middle of centre ice enjoying her bottle of warmed milk. The mom soon realized that the majority of her recreational time would be spent at the rink as she looked to centre ice to see the little girl effortless walking around the ice in her rubber boots imitating the other skaters. You have probably figured out that the little girl was me, Mena and the boy my brother John whom I spent hours and hours hanging out at the rink with. The best years of my childhood were spent at the rink… I love creating great memories for kids that come to me to help them learn to skate well!
I grew up skating through the Victoria Figure Skating Club, moved to the newly formed Saanich Figure Skating Club in 1978 and trained through the Victoria Racquet Club during off season sessions through spring and summer. Summer school in my day was being at the rink from 8-5 everyday 8 weeks of the summer enjoying a combination of on ice, off ice and swim breaks with friends. I competed until the age of 16 winning many Artistic awards, club trophies and births in many regional opportunities. I enjoyed coaching from a very young age of 8 when senior skaters were given the opportunity to help out ‘the little kids’. In 1980 I was awarded the junior coach of the year award and then the senior coach of the year award in 1989. I loved to coach but performing was my goal as a youngster.
In September of 1990 I travelled to Florida to train for 6 weeks with the Ice Capades and continued as a performer for their 1990/1991 touring schedule that took me all over North America. I loved the experience but chose to return ‘home’ after my first year of living ‘on the road’ to complete my post secondary education, pursue my next goal of being a fitness trainer and marry my high school sweetheart.
I went on to complete a science degree with a major in psychology with a professional year in the school of physical education, completed my requirements as a fitness trainer, weight room supervisors and trainer of trainer status registered with the BCRPA (British Columbia Recreation & Parks Association). I had the thrill of working through our local television station (then CHEK 6) working on air as a fitness demonstrator through the internationally syndicated television fitness show Body Moves between the years of 1992-1994.
My coaching experience as a ‘power skating instructor’ began out of chance. Ex-NHL superstar Bob Barlow was teaching classes locally and his wife Marilyn recommended that he have a figure skater come out and demonstrate how to skate. I was 15 years old at the time and had little experience with hockey. My mom ironically had registered both my brother and I into these very same classes years prior but my figure skating coach quickly requested that I stop as I was looking too much like a hockey player out on the ice. Not a popular look for a figure skater! I chose figure skating over hockey at the time and was only able to enjoy the odd fun game of hockey focusing my training time as a figure skater. I still remember stepping onto he ice to act as Bob’s ‘assistant’ and being quickly reminded time after time that my figure skates and ‘those picks’ was what was making me skate so fast! Bob and I coached for years together every Wednesday evening with classes busting at the maximum of 35 skaters a session. It was great that he had the voice to lead the lesson! I soon fell in love with the whole concept of understanding how to skate well, the physical dynamics of being an athlete on ice and combining power, agility and speed!
I felt very fortunate to be able to do something I loved to do! My ability to coach skating gave me great opportunities include coaching at many hockey schools as the lead skating instructor alongside popular NHL players such as Joe Sakic, Mark Rechi, VanBeiskirk, Adrian PLasic, Rod Brind’amour and the Victoria Courtnall brothers.