Laura Carr is learning all over again.
A widely-respected national level figure skating judge and controller for more than 17 years, Carr, the deserving recipient of the 2014 Skate Canada Section Volunteer Award of Excellence at this week’s ACGM and National Coaches’ Conference in Quebec City, is in learning mode in speed skating, a sport that is essentially foreign to her. Carr’s oldest daughter, 15-year-old Rosalyn, moved from figure skating to short track in December and has already left her mark, advancing to the Canada West Short Track Championships earlier this year.
As Carr explains, Rosalyn didn’t want to leave figure skating but, like many athletes her age, she simply outgrew the sport.
“She (Rosalyn) told me ‘I love figure skating, but figure skating doesn’t love my body’”, says Carr with a laugh.
And with that, Carr is starting from scratch and learning the basics. With a lifetime of experience as a figure skating official, Carr has recently been approached to train as a Level I speed skating official.
“Getting a child involved in a sport I know nothing about has been really eye opening,” she admits. “When you eat, breathe and sleep figure skating, there is a lot of information you know that you take for granted.
“I think I drove everyone at speed skating crazy because of the questions.”
Success seems to run in the Carr family. The youngest daughter, Daria, captured the BC/YK Super Series pre-juvenile under-11 crown this year.
“It’s great having kids in different sports,” says Carr.
“They have their individual passions, and both of them have found something they’re very good at. They both love to compete. It’s my job to try to keep up to them.”
Taking home a Skate Canada national award is becoming a bit of a habit for Carr, who is Vice Chair of the BC/YK section. Just two years ago, she was the recipient of the Skate Canada Officials Award of Excellence.
“It is very humbling when your peers recognize you like this,” says Carr. “It’s nice to be recognized, but that is not why you do it. It is in honour, but you do this for the love of the sport.”
“You see where you can help out, and you just step in and do the job. As you discover where your strengths and skillsets are, you channel you energy into trying to make a difference.”
Carr is a vital asset for the BC/YK section, and has been instrumental in developing program criteria and standards while overseeing implementation of the STARSkate pilot for her home section.
“Laura is an incredible resource for this organization, not only here in BC, but across the country,” says BC/YK Executive Director Ted Barton. “As with all our great volunteers, Laura is essentially an extension of the staff because of the amount of work she does. She shares the type of vision that helps us grow. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award.”
A year ago, Carr was invited to judge at Skate Detroit, and will make a return trip this summer. As for career aspirations on the international stage, Carr is playing that one close to the vest.
“I’ll see where it takes me. If I feel I have the skills and support around me, I’ll go for it. For now, I am just taking things one day, one event, at a time.”
Carr is quick to deflect some of the credit to others she has worked and brainstormed with, including Patricia Chafe, Sally Rehorick, Janice Hunter, Susan Heffernan and Ted Barton, stressing their progressive thinking and complex data analysis is helping grow the sport at the section and national level.
“The knowledge I have gained from those around me is invaluable,” says Carr. “If you can turn yourself into a sponge, something good is going to come of it. Don’t be afraid to question something, or try something new. If you can do something that makes a difference, it is better for skating and creates a better environment for everyone.
“That’s what keeps me going. We all have these minds that say ‘What can we do? Where can we go?’ Not ‘We can’t, we can’t’ – but ‘why not’?
“You’ll find success if you keep going down that road.”