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Women in Coaching: From Curler to Coach

After moving to Victoria for competitive curling, I realized it was one of the toughest regions to win.  We had some highly competitive games with another very good local team.  Sometimes we won, sometimes we lost. Although both teams knew each other as individuals, we were competitors first.  Who knew that years later I would run into one of those competitors, Cindy Tucker, on a completely different level.

Cindy retired from competitive curling (after competing in the 1988 and 1999 Scotties) and is now a Level 3 certified coach.  I have been working with Cindy for 4 years, and have been (and continue to be) both a mentor and friend to her.

In a very short time, Cindy has enjoyed great success.  She coached Korea at the 2005 Pacific Curling Championship and the 2006 World Junior Championships.  She coached a team to a bronze medal at the 2006 International Optimist Championship; a team to the silver at the 2006 BC Winter games and a bronze and silver at the 2008 and 2009 BC Junior Women’s Championship.  In 2007, Cindy coached her team to a bronze medal at the Canadian Junior Championships and in 2010; she did one better, with her team finishing with a silver medal.

It was recognized that our sport needed to be built up from the grassroots and that we needed to get some youth back into our clubs so Elaine Dagg Jackson, also a mentor to Cindy, provided her with some new opportunities and challenges.  Cindy never backed down from a challenge, whether as an athlete or as a coach.

Her first challenge was taking on, starting and becoming the Head Coach of the Victoria Curling Performance Centre (hosted by the Victoria Curling Club), funded by the Legacy of the 2005 Ford Men’s World Curling Championship.  The centre focuses on the development of young competitive teams and has continuously grown over the last few years.

Cindy’s next challenge is one of which she can be very proud.  Cindy started (including writing the curriculum) and works at the Esquimalt Curling Academy, run through Esquimalt Secondary School and the Esquimalt Curling Club.  Trish Fortier, a teacher for 25+ years at Esquimalt High School, has also played a huge part in the success of the academy.  Her love for the game and for the young athletes has helped Cindy and the program flourish.

The Esquimalt Curling Academy which runs from September till January is currently in its third year.  In the first year there were 7 students and now there are 18, 5 of them new to curling.  Each day starts with a warm up, followed by some drills (with a different focus each week) and concludes with a 3 or 4 end game.  The drills cater to all levels of the athletes.  The young curlers are on the ice about 8 hours a week.  Mondays focus on fitness and Fridays focus on team building.  This year there are 4 teams in the high school league and some will be entering the school playdowns.

Cindy Tucker (Coach) with Team BC at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors (Photo: CCA/Michael Burns Photography)

The Academy (and Cindy) has already proven results.  Two curlers (one current and one graduated) won a Canadian Junior Silver medal.  Two current male curlers are going to the Canada Winter Games Qualifier in a couple of weeks, after capturing the last spot this past weekend.  There are 2 students from Vancouver who have moved to Vancouver Island for the academy and lots of interest is being shown from a Japanese student for next year.

The Academy provides an opportunity and the tools for these young curlers to work on and improve their skills and get involved with like minded people to reach their competitive goals.  The Academy is open to anyone! Its goal is to make curling both enjoyable and challenging to all levels of ability, as well as creating a dynamics of support among participants.

I stand proudly as I watch Cindy continue to grow and thrive as a successful “Woman in Coaching”.  Good luck to the Academy, the Victoria Performance Centre and to Cindy and all her future endeavours.