The Sungod Skating Club is ushering in the 2016-17 season with some fresh faces and a new two-stream organizational structure.
Following the retirement of long-time coach Norma Grant in June (Grant had been with the club since 1978), the club hired former Canadian national team member Keyla Ohs as its new director of skating operations and competitive/ high-performance manager.
“Saying goodbye to somebody that’s been here for 38 years was really, really tough,” said Denise Reid, the club’s director of publicity and Sungod Skating Club parent. “We were very sad to see her go, but with that change came some excitement at somebody who was willing and ready at the right time to step up to the plate and be a leader within our club, and that came with Keyla.”
Ohs has been coaching for seven years, most recently with Champs International Skating Centre in Burnaby. As a skater, she was a seven-time provincial figure skating champion, the 1993 Canadian Junior Champion, a 1998 Canadian Senior Medalist, and spent over eight years representing Canada at international competitions.
Part of her job with the club will be to manage its new two-stream structure. Moving forward, the club will focus both on competitive-stream athletes and what Ohs calls the “grassroots” or beginner/casual level skaters.
“We’re trying to really cover all aspects of skating; we really don’t want to separate anyone. Everyone and everybody is welcome,” Ohs said. “We’re trying to bring the love back into the sport and really grow the grassroots program, but on top of that we’re dividing into two clear streams. We’ve got a love-of-the-sport, non-competitive learn-to-skate side, which can be a lifetime [pursuit] as well, or our very competitive side.”
“Sungod has always been a really solid club. We’re a little bit out the way, we’re a little bit removed, but the talent pool here is huge and the coaching talent here is also really, really strong,” Ohs said. “You don’t only have to be leisurely skating and you don’t only have to be competitive. You can fall in love with the sport however is the best fit for you, and if you decide, or we decide, that you’ve got a talented athlete that could potentially go competitive, then we have the skillset here and we have the eyes here to pick those out and make them competitive stream.”
New coach Jeff Trott helps Sungod Skating Club skater Peyton Reid add a little flair to her routine. Image credit: James Smith
The aforementioned coaching talent got a boost with the addition this month of Ohs’ former Canadian national team member Jeff Trotts. Trotts comes to Sungod by way of Skate Oakville, Canada’s largest skating club, where he developed and directed the country’s only “theatre on ice” program. Earlier in his career, Trotts claimed medals at both the Canadian National Figure Skating Championships and the Canada Winter Games.
“Something that I think is a real attribute that Jeff brings to the table is his creative ability. Not only was he strong technically as an athlete, but he was a performer,” Ohs said. “I’m hoping that he brings that side to Sungod, [because] I do think that that’s an aspect of very competitive schools that’s missing in B.C.”
“I came here for a week [in August] and saw there was so much potential here at this school. I left the biggest club in the entire country to come here.” Trotts said. “I literally dropped my whole life in two weeks and left everything. She (Keyla) sold me. She’s got the most passion of any coach I’ve ever seen. So getting in on the ground floor of a place that’s going to be as successful as this was too enticing to let go of.”
Trott said part of his job, and the job of all the coaches at Sungod, is to let the club’s young athletes shine while helping them develop into artists.
“That’s half of our sport,” Trott said. “It’s not all about trajectory and torque and speed; it’s all about making it look easy. We want to see the movement, not the effort behind it, and teaching these little kids to do that and reach from inside and tear out their soul to go and say something to an audience is something we need to work on with these little guys especially.”
Sungod Skating Club’s season runs from September through March, with summer skating at Tilbury Ice for competitive-stream skaters. Registration is ongoing and the club will take on new skaters at any time. For more information visit sungodskatingclub.com.
The club will also be holding a retirement reception in honour of long-time coach Norma Grant on Sunday Oct. 2 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Centennial Lodge – Queen’s Park in New Westminster.
To purchase tickets follow the link on the club’s homepage, or email email@example.com for more information.