A coach and her assistant - both from the Carlyle Skating Club - have been honoured by Skate Canada Saskatchewan and the awards they received were a surprise to both of them.
Skating coach Jenna Toms received Skate Canada's Volunteer Coach Award - one of only 10 coaches to receive recognition this season. Toms' nomination and subsequent honour was “a complete surprise,” even though she nominated her 10-year-old assistant and student, Tianna Delalleau, who earned the organization's Program Assistant Award.
Although both Toms and Delalleau received their certificates in a presentation at the Carlyle Skating Club's finale, Sunday, March 20, the pair will travel to Regina for a formal presentation on Saturday, May 5.
Club President Anita Delalleau - who was involved in Toms' nomination process and who is also Tianna's mother - says: “I'm a proud mom. Tianna's done very well for herself this year and the fact that Jenna nominated her is a real compliment to her.”
“Jenna is just so fantastic,” says Delalleau. “Putting together her nomination package required input from a lot of people from different facets of her life. It required us to get letters from her fellow coaches, her skating students, skating parents, people from her business and even her husband, Blair.”
“They all had great things to say about Jenna,” adds Delalleau. “But in the end, it all comes down to this: No matter what is going on in her life, Jenna is always there for our skaters and our club.”
“In fact, if I put on my president's hat, I couldn't pick two more deserving people.”
Toms says of nominating her 10-year-old protege: “I honestly think that our CanSkate program wouldn't have been the success it was without Tianna. She was always there for me - always.”
“She was usually the first one on the ice - usually beating me out there,” smiles Toms. “And whatever she did, she always took extra care with whatever she was doing.”
Toms' nomination of her young assistant is a natural extension of her enthusiasm for her students. As a CanSkate coach and as a Regional coach, she is qualified to teach skaters of every age and ability - whether it's teaching the smallest of children how to skate or preparing older skaters for the challenges of competing in figure skating, hockey and ringette.
“My parents put me on skates before I was two-years-old,” she says. “My mom, Raylene Markoski was actually my first skating coach, so I guess you could say it kind of comes naturally.”
“I have helped to coach CanSkate during high school and now that I'm an instructor and a new mom, I realize even more how special these kids are to their families. I know what great examples my coaches were to me when I was younger and I want to give my best to these kids and to be a positive role model.”
“Skating brings me joy,” she says. “I'm truly happy out there and skating's my happy place and I just want to share that.”
The honour Toms earned has three overriding criteria. The first is that the recipient be a Skate Canada professional coach who also contributes volunteer time to her students in addition to their professional coaching time. The second is that the honouree be a professional coach who “inspires others to embrace the joy of skating.” The final requirement is that the professional in question be a coach “who has demonstrated commitment to the development of the sport of skating.”
“At the end of this year's carnival, I saw there was a coach award in the program,” says Toms. “But I didn't think it was me.”
“When I got called out onto the ice, it was a complete surprise,” she says. “When bits and pieces of the letters that were written on my behalf were read out loud, I got really choked up. I put in so much energy into my time on ice and planning off the ice. It just means the world to me that others saw that.”
“I did't realize the impact. I'm excited and honoured”