Three-time Olympic gold medalist pays special visit to P.E. McGibbon students
By Barbara Simpson
October 14, 2014
P.E. McGibbon student Isaiah Williams, 9, checks out Canadian hockey legend Becky Kellar-Duke's three gold medals at the Sarnia Arena Tuesday. The Olympian said she was thrilled to work with students who in many cases were so eager to learn how to skate.
BARBARA SIMPSON/THE OBSERVER/QMI AGENCY
In a self-professed hockey town, three-time Olympic gold medalist Becky Kellar-Duke learned Tuesday that not all Sarnia children know how to skate.
But the former long-time member of the Canadian women's Olympic hockey team helped to change that during a visit to the Sarnia Arena.
“It's nice getting out and sharing (the ability to skate) with kids that a lot of Canadians take for granted,” Kellar-Duke said after showing her Olympic medals to a dressing room full of P.E. McGibbon students.
Kellar-Duke worked side-by-side with Grade 4 and 5 students Tuesday as part of a three-week RBC Learn to Skate program.
Close to 50 P.E. McGibbon students are currently learning the fundamentals of skating, thanks in part to the program providing both a donated set of hockey skates and gloves.
RBC Royal Bank is also covering the cost of ice time for a trio of two-hour workshops.
Community members and classroom teachers are serving as program instructors, showing students essentials like gliding, stopping and even how to get up from falls.
“When I did a survey of my kids... two-thirds of them never had been skating, and if you look at them today, they're skating,” teacher Kristen Veenendaal said Tuesday.
For nine-year-old Izzy Smith, Tuesday's session was only her second time on skates.
“I think it's really cool,” she said. “You get to move around and have fun.”
Since her retirement from the Olympic team, Kellar-Duke – whose name has now become synonymous with women's hockey in Canada – has worked extensively with young hockey stars through her own training program.
But last year, she also found time to be involved with two RBC Learn to Skate workshops in Hamilton.
She said she is motivated to help all children who may not come be as lucky as her to come from a hockey-loving family.
“It was very different when I was growing up,” she said. “A lot of girls didn't have an opportunity, so I know what it's like to get an opportunity.”
Some P.E. McGibbon students will also be given a special opportunity to show off their skating skills Nov. 7. They are expected to make an on-ice appearance during the intermission of the semifinal game at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge to be held in Sarnia-Lambton.