Written by Paul Dore

Are you a member of the Skate Canada community and thinking about applying for the David Dore Mentorship Fund? Perhaps you are a judge, coach or a club administrator and a friend or colleague suggested you look into it? Maybe the application seems a bit daunting and you’re on the fence as to whether this is right for you?

We talked to Val Masek and asked him to reflect on his experiences as the 2018 David Dore Mentorship Fund recipient. The Fund is open to a wide range of Skate Canada members – skaters, coaches, volunteers, administrators – and the purpose is to provide an opportunity to an individual in order to develop leadership skills with the goal of enhancing Skate Canada’s leadership depth.

The recipient is someone who recognizes how instrumental my father was in building the sport of figure skating in Canada and understands that this legacy was built on hard work, risk-taking, commitment, passion, and dedication. Through many different positions, my father deeply appreciated the important roles that volunteers such as Val have in our sport.

Val’s application reminded me of the way my father might have written one: methodical, attention to detail, forward-thinking. He is the President of the Prince of Wales Skating Club in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and has been involved with the sport for years.

A major part of being a David Dore Mentorship Fund recipient is attending the Skate Canada Ice Summit, where you’ll have the opportunity to help facilitate a workshop, shadow a Skate Canada leader, and participate in many events over the course of the weekend.

Heading into last year’s Summit, Val was excited to share his experiences from the most eastern part of Canada and being welcomed into the larger Skate Canada family. “The opportunity from the David Dore Mentorship Fund magnified this exceptional experience beyond words,” Val said. “At the Summit, Skate Canada’s movement towards better engagement, more efficient governance, and overall excellency in our work as volunteers was truly exceptional.”

The opportunity of attending the Skate Canada Summit is one that has a huge impact on the recipient and their local skating community. It’s not just the individual that benefits from the vast institutional knowledge on hand at the Summit. In addition, they can pay it forward to their own local skating community. “My experiences left a deep impression about the strong community of Skate Canada,” Val said. “The Fund’s goals intertwined with the spirit of David Dore’s historical work were on display at the Summit. It felt like winning the Olympics itself!”

In addition to attending the Summit, the recipient is matched up with mentors who have specific expertise related to their goals. The recipient’s time at the Summit is maximized in order to provide the most amount of learning opportunities. “I had the privilege to meet with a number of great mentors and learn from their experiences,” Val said. “I also could share some of our often unique situations from the Newfoundland and Labrador section. Being a club leader of 1200 members requires a huge time sacrifice and challenge for any volunteer. Through my mentor, I was delighted to be encouraged in my attitude towards the introduction of new technologies to improve our training methods and club operations.”

To me, one of the best ways to learn is through storytelling and connecting with others through personal experiences. One of the presentations especially resonated with Val: “Dr. William Bridel delivered an emotionally powerful speech aimed at the wider inclusion and support of LGBTQI2S members in our programs. In such spirit, I invited Eric Radford and his partner Luis Fenero to conduct a skater development seminar with our kids.”

Val had some final thoughts about the benefits of the Fund and a message to those out there thinking of applying: “The Fund opened a door for our club to become recognized within the larger Skate Canada community. It allowed us to tap into the knowledge and broad experiences of Canada’s most successful clubs, volunteer leadership, and top athletes. I see my work as a piece of a larger picture guided by Mr. Dore’s principles of hard work, commitment, and dedication to community service. I am truly humbled and honoured to be a part of Mr. Dore’s legacy and I strongly recommend applying for the Fund.”

After reading Val’s inspiring words, apply today for the David Dore Mentorship Fund.