For­mer Glovertown skater lands coach­ing gig in Har­bour Grace

The Compass - - SPORTS - BYMATT MOLLOY

It was the same step she took many times, but when she took it on the evening of Jan. 31, it was as a coach and not as a pupil.

That small step took Leah Doucette from the floor of Glovertown Gar­dens to the ice, and in front of her were mem­bers of the Terra Nova Tor­na­does Fig­ure Skat­ing Club, ready to learn from some­one who was in their place not too long ago.

Doucette grad­u­ated from the club last year, but it didn’t take her long to find her next ad­ven­ture in the world of skat­ing — syn­chro­nized skat­ing.

It was some­thing she de­cided to try while at­tend­ing Sir Wil­fred Grenfell Col­lege in Cor­ner Brook.

“I skated in Cor­ner Brook for sum­mer camps, so when I was there one of the coaches was do­ing syn­chro. So, I tried out for the syn­chro team, and did that for a year,” said Doucette. “You’re used to do­ing ev­ery­thing by yourself skat­ing solo, but in syn­chro, you have to do ev­ery­thing with a group of girls. So, I had to make sure my foot­work matched that of the part­ner next to me, be­cause if I mess up mine, she’s go­ing to mess up hers. There’s a lot of team­work to it.”

Doucette later left the west coast and headed to St. John’s, where the next chap­ter in her fig­ure skat­ing life was about to be­gin — coach­ing.

Ac­tu­ally, that coach­ing job was in Har­bour Grace with the Con­cep­tion Bay North Fig­ure Skat­ing Club.

“My aunt (Sher­rie O’Keefe) is re­ally good friends with one of the people on their ex­ec­u­tive, so she was telling my aunt that the club was look­ing for a coach. I did my Level 1 coach­ing course, sent in my re­sume, and they called me over the sum­mer. I started in Jan­uary,” said Doucette. “I work with Can­Skate, and I also work with people that just moved up from Can­Skate, so it’s al­most like a Star 1. We’re do­ing the ba­sics, so we’re get­ting them into their spins and their jumps, and start­ing to work on a pro­gram.

“They’re great kids, and they’re so funny with the stuff they come up with. They fall all over the ice, and they just get up and laugh and keep go­ing.”

Doucette was back in her home­town of Gambo over the Jan. 31 weekend, and headed up that prac­tice in Glovertown.

Step­ping on the ice in Glovertown brought back a lot of mem­o­ries, and the ma­jor­ity of those mem­o­ries are of the re­la­tion­ships formed while skat­ing for the lo­cal club.

“My favourite mem­o­ries would be the friend­ships. I formed a lot of good friend­ships here,” said Doucette. “Also, my coach, Clau­dia Drover. I had a real good con­nec­tion with her. An­other would be the ice shows. I loved the ice shows. It gave people an idea of the types of things we were do­ing in the club, and it also gave us a chance to show our talent.”

Drover not only coached Doucette as she came up through the ranks with the Terra Nova Tor­na­does, but she also men­tored the young coach while she was com­plet­ing her Level 1.

Drover has had a big im­pact on Doucette, who uses the knowl­edge she learned from Drover to help her skaters in Har­bour Grace.

“I’ve done a lot of men­tor­ing with Clau­dia. When you do your Level 1 and your Can­Skate you have to do 50 hours of men­tor­ing, so I came back here and did my 50 hours with Clau­dia,” said Doucette. “I can call her with any ques­tions I have while I’m out in Har­bour Grace. Clau­dia is al­ways there to back me up and help me.”

“I can call her with any ques­tions I have while I’m out in Har­bour Grace. Clau­dia is al­ways there to back me up and help me.” — Leah Doucette

Ray­naud’s phe­nom­e­non

Doucette loved ev­ery minute of skat­ing with the Tor­na­does, but they weren’t al­ways the warm­est mem­o­ries.

The 19-year-old suf­fers from Ray­naud’s phe­nom­e­non, a con­di­tion that left her with such cold hands and feet, she couldn’t stay on the ice for an en­tire ses­sion of skat­ing. The con­di­tion can cause pain within the af­fected ex­trem­i­ties, dis­col­oration, and sen­sa­tions of cold and/or numb­ness.

“I get re­ally, re­ally cold, and it gets to the point where I have no feel­ing in my hands or my feet, and they turn re­ally, re­ally white. It gets to the point where I can get off the ice and just cry… it just burns,” said Doucette, adding she wears Hot Pads in her mit­tens to keep her hands warm. “There’s not much room to put any­thing in my skates with my feet in them, but I found an in­sole that’s bat­tery-op­er­ated and stays heated for five hours. I’m go­ing to try those and see if it works.”

As a skater, it was some­thing she had to deal with. How­ever, no mat­ter how tough you are, try­ing to jump off of the ice with feet and toes that are so cold they’re numb is quite the painful chal­lenge.

“I had to get off the ice early, so I could never stay for a full ses­sion,” said Doucette. “My toes would get re­ally, re­ally numb, so I couldn’t do any of my jumps be­cause I never had feel­ing in my toes. I had to get off the ice, get warmed up as fast as I could so I could get back on. It was an­noy­ing.”

Photo by Matt Molloy/Transcontinenal Me­dia

Leah Doucette (left) is a grad­u­ate of the Terra Nova Tor­na­does Fig­ure Skat­ing Club in Glovertown and now a coach in Har­bour Grace, helps her sis­ter, Jenna, dur­ing a re­cent Tor­na­does’ prac­tice.

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