Building the champions of tomorrow is every coach’s dream. It takes years of commitment, dedication, patience, and sacrifice. In figure skating and hockey, it means time away from your family, late nights and early mornings at the rink and countless days on the road. Esteemed skating coach and BC Section Skate Canada Competitive Coach of the Year Award (1999, 2001, 2006) Bruno Delmaestro will tell you; nothing happens overnight.
In his early years, Delmaestro was both a figure skater and a hockey player, playing hockey up until he was 15 years of age. His figure skating career continued for years beyond that. In 1980, as a dual citizen of both Canada and Italy, Delmaestro left Canada to go compete for Italy. During his figure skating career, Delmaestro became a three-time national champion and won a silver medal at the 1982 Nebelhorn Trophy and a bronze medal at the St. Gervais international competition in France. He skated in the European and World Championships on track to be named to Italy’s 1984 Olympic team when he was sidelined by a hip-flexor injury that ended his competitive career.
His on-ice accomplishments would turn out to be to what just one chapter of a long and accomplished career built around skating. After recovering from his injury, Delmaestro entertained offers to skate professionally but was also curious about dabbling in the coaching world. Instead of skating professionally, he began taking coaching courses under the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) while going to school and gradually became a skating coach.
After the first year, Delmaestro started to notice a trend in his skaters. “Guys were taking figure skating for hockey, and then quitting.” This opportunity would become a game changer for his career and that of many young hockey players.
His thought process became: “If you want to a be a hockey player, come train at my hockey school and if you want to be a figure skater, come train at the clubs.” This quickly became the motto he would share with all young skaters looking to train with him and the foundation of what would become Bruno Delmaestro’s Skating Schools. Delmaestro took his knowledge of both sports to create unique and effective skating programs.
In the years since, he has coached several prominent athletes, such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matthew Barzal and 2023 first 2023 NHL Entry Draft pick Connor Bedard. In addition to Connor Bedard, Delmaestro also coached two additional NHL draft picks this year. In figure skating, he has coached numerous national champions and international medallists.
While these accomplishments bring him pride, he shares that the real joy comes from, “when you get to touch the lives of these skaters, you give them guidance to overcome things in skating and that makes them strong in life.”
Just like anything else in life, there is always much behind-the-scenes work that goes into every success story and Delmaestro is no exception to this. At 60 years old, he has now been coaching for 38 years in the two sports he is passionate about. He is an NCCP level 4 (partially level 5) coach, which represents countless hours spent learning both on and off the ice. Logging coaching hours, completing tests, attending trainings, in addition to the time he spends directly with his athletes he was also a Skate Canada Master Course Conductor in Power Skating. Today he is a High Performance, Pre-Power and PowerSkate Manager and skating coach at the Coquitlam Skating Club in British Columbia.
He attributes much of his success to the incredible mentorship he found in Cynthia and Jan Ullmark, and while mentorship brought him a long way, he continued to train and evolve as a coach. Continued NCCP training and listening to his athletes brought him staying power in two sports that have changed leaps and bounds since he started coaching.
“We are so beyond the way we taught 38 years ago. You must adapt as the sport evolves and today the kids are stronger, better trained, and more skilled.”
Both hockey and figure skating are so radically different than they were years ago. Athletes are constantly breaking new physical barriers. In figure skating, we see more quads in the programs, better skating skills and hockey is faster now than it has ever been, with better equipment and puck handling skills. So, Delmaestro kept evolving, kept learning, kept growing with both the sport and his athletes.
For new coaches coming up through the ranks, Delmaestro relays some key advice. “For a coach working with any high-performance athlete, it’s a good balancing act of getting that person to their best performance. The road is never easy, there are lots of ups and downs, it’s important to be patient. We all need a basic understanding that this is their sport and part of your job is to keep them grounded.”
Getting to the top is challenging and requires a network of people and assets to get there. After 38 years of coaching, Delmaestro is now setting new goals and new aspirations. “I never thought I could push 60 with my body and now the dream is 65 and maybe 70,” he shares. In one last parting thought Bruno reminds us that, “sport is active for life and if you keep active for life, you will push through.”
This week is National Coaches Week. Join Skate Canada in celebrating coaches across the country working to help skaters of all ages accomplish their goals. We invite you to thank your coach in your own special way and to tag Skate Canada so we can join in the celebration.
Bruno Delmaestro is a World and International Level Skater and Coach who is NCCP Level 4 certified (partial level 5) and trainer of hockey players from beginner to NHL. To find out more about his skating schools, click here.