2019-2020 BC Speed Skating Coach of the Year Meredith Thornton began coaching in 1988, having experienced the joy of Dawson Creek oval, she had enjoyed the look of speed skating and began attending some practices and, once in university, joined the newly started Burnaby club. Upon returning home to Dawson Creek, she was asked by Greig and Sharon Miller to join the club as the junior coach.
Meredith has always found working with the youngest skaters to be the most rewarding, “I’ve worked as a high school teacher since the early 90’s and this way I see teenagers at school and the younger ones at skating!” Keeping skating enjoyable for the youngest ones, she is known for creating fun drills like “spaghetti ankles” to get skaters using their edges in a variety of positions, including skating – but also for the hula or Charlston dance, on ice.
Along the way Meredith has coached Shelley Kirk, Patrick and James Hopkins, Braden Clothier, Hannah Brun, Sarah and Jacob Graham, the Vanspronson brothers, and Heather and Melissa Chaley – many with a story to tell. The Hopkins were “always up to something,” or BCST Champion Melissa once “sprinted away from the start gun because she thought she was going to get shot!” Including the Special Olympics skaters has always played an important part of the club, training with the main group of skaters. Among the memories and stories over the seasons, one stood out. Prior to the Olympics at the Richmond Olympic Oval, “the club really enjoyed doing the long track provincials at Vancouver on the indoor oval with the beautiful view of the mountains. Raistlin (photo credit above) was so excited about one race that he held his arms up and cheered himself for a full victory lap.”
Aside from coaching, teaching, and her cats, Meredith is a proud member of the Timberline Trail and Nature Club, an affiliation of the BC Federation of Naturalists, where they go “backpacking, long distance skiing and are interested in birds and the natural environment. We were the only naturalist group in North Eastern BC that got involved in environmental planning on Site C.”
Looking back, Meredith encourages all skaters to “start coaching even if you don’t feel you know the sport that well. You can grow with the kids. And have fun. Take yourself back to being a kid again and enjoy playing on the ice.” Of course, amidst a pandemic this season will be different. The club is diligently preparing it’s Return to Play documentation and will be ready to skate safely. Meredith will be ready to keep the fun in speed skating, safely – providing her creative drills to safely Charleston 2m apart.