Figure Skating in Northern Ontario
John Greenwood of
Skate Ontario President
ISU Championship Referee
(the highest category in the world)
Canada's most Senior Judge
Camp Director of our Provincial Training Camp
I recently had the great privileged (and total pleasure) to spend an evening with Mr. John "Jack" Greenwood of .
John has traveled over the course of his life from being a little northern boy who just liked to skate to where he is today; one of the world's most respected figure-skating judges, and a wonderfully nice man. As a new-comer to the world of figure skating, at least as far as understanding how it all works, I had many questions and John is a man who has all the answers.
He spoke at great length with real passion (and generous patience) about judging, the political elements in figure skating, the new judging systems being tried, and most of all about the young people skating in our country today.
John says we need "lead athletes" to capture the hearts and imaginations of our youth. People they can look up to and want to follow into the sport. We need heroes.
We talked about the sense of strength and "self deservedness" that some countries like the United States seem to take for granted. He laughed as he said "we could use more of that up here." John told me about attitudes he saw in places like Japan where a person feels real success when they are doing their own personal best at something. He expressed the same frustration that I often feel with that sense of "apology" that many of our talented Northern youth too often demonstrate or are told they should demonstrate. That sense that we are not "as good" as other places or that it's improper somehow to dream big and feel we deserve it.
He went on to talk about the training camp he looks after each summer and about working with the likes of Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, saying that there too he wanted them to have a better sense of who they really are and how very valuable they are to us all. Out there on the ice they are the best, they deserve to feel it. He spoke of wishing to see our young skaters here in the north get more involved with professional musicians and dancers, he feels our skaters could benefit by doing more in those areas. His voice was soft as he spoke of his life long love for this sport and he smiled when he talked about skating in Schumacher as a child.
I came away from our conversation feeling a heightened excitement for this sport and with a much better understanding how things work in figure skating. I also found I had a strong sense of how much more it's going to be with people like John Greenwood involved and leading the way. He was a just a Northern kid with the courage and inner conviction to follow his dreams. He's become a man of world class successes with vision and the ability to share it. I felt motivated to run out and find some heroes! To do whatever bits I could to broadcast the news that we do have our own heroes and they are worth giving our hearts to.
And best of all, I did my own smiling as I walked away with the full realization that I'd already found my first hero.