Written by Paul Dore
Skating is in my blood. Exactly thirty years ago, I laced up my first pair of skates. On that day, I fell and hit my head, resulting in a goose egg-sized bump above my left eye (wearing helmets was not yet enforced the way it is nowadays). I didn’t really feel the pain because all I was thinking about was the next time I could get out on the ice.
One fortunate element to our Canadian winters is the wide access to outdoor rinks. I live in Toronto and almost every city park has one. To this day, I still trek to my local rink, brave the cold, and step on to the ice. Getting exercise is a great by-product, but I’m also there for other reasons.
The rink is where I seek council from my father.
Many times, when I had to make a big decision, I’d call my dad. We’d bat things around, brainstorm my different options, and always come away with a plan. Those of you who knew my dad, knew he loved to plan things out. We wouldn’t always agree, but we respected each other’s decisions. No matter what, we’d support each other.
My dad has been gone for three years now. For a while, I felt lost. I deeply missed these conversations, and at times, it was difficult to figure out a way forward. Then one day, I realized that I could talk to him. We all hold our loved ones in our hearts and have places we can go that reminds us of them. For me, it’s the skating rink.
Being involved with figure skating is much more than a sport, it’s a community. A family. When my dad first stepped on the ice as a child to help rehabilitate his body while recovering from polio, it started a journey for him that lasted his entire life. As a competitor, a judge, volunteer, administrator, and International Skating Union delegate, it’s safe to say my dad was involved with every aspect of the sport. He recognized that skating is a community of people participating in something larger than themselves.
During his tenure as President of Skate Canada (then the Canadian Figure Skating Association), it was always important to him to visit each section, and as many clubs as he could fit into his schedule. He understood the value of connecting all clubs and skaters across the country to the head office. Likewise, when he extended his influence internationally, developing the sport outside of the traditional powerhouse countries was an important goal for him.
He believed in the power of sport and I think this came from a personal place. He recognized and valued how skating had enriched his life. In many ways, his true legacy was in developing opportunities for others to have similar experiences.
This is a big reason why I am so proud to be a part of Skate Canada’s David Dore Mentorship Fund. I believe that it is a continuation of his work. The purpose of the fund is to provide an opportunity for a Skate Canada coach, official, volunteer, or administrator at the club, section or national level to develop leadership skills. The recipient attends the Ice Summit and is matched up with mentors.
Recently, I had someone outside the skating community ask what I thought skating had taught me. I had to think about it because it’s not a short answer. I learned how to be responsible for myself, how to manage myself and my time, what it means to commit to something larger than myself, how to set goals – the list goes on. These items were all very nice and true. However, I think the biggest lesson came from my dad. It wasn’t necessarily something he told me. It was evident in how he lived his life. Search for that thing – whatever it is – that you are supposed to do. Something that provides passion and purpose. For those fortunate enough to find that discovery, dedicate the whole self to it – your focus, your talents, your emotions. With the Mentorship Fund, we hope to inspire individuals to fuel their passion and find their place in the skating community.
But still, at different times in our lives, we all need council, guidance, and mentorship. When I need it, I go to the skating rink. I’ll think to myself, “Alright, here’s the situation…” I can hear his voice as my blades cut across the ice. I can see him leaning over the boards watching. I can feel him in my heart.
To learn more about the David Dore Mentorship Fund, watch this video of past recipients expressing their experience at the 2017 Ice Summit. If you are one of those leaders, further information and the application can be found at the below link. APPLY TODAY!