Coach and model student
Winchester Skating Club Coach, Leanne van der Zweep says it was a delight to coach such a dedicated skater as Joelle Menard for so many years.      Courtesy photos

Joelle Menard

Jeff Moore
Record Staff
WINCHESTER—Winchester Skating Club’s most accomplished skater, Joelle Menard, laced them up for the last time at the end of March this year. The 17-year-old battled against all odds to become one of the club’s most decorated skaters ever in the club’s history. Menard has fought off some tough challenges in her childhood. At age 14. she had surgery on her spine for scoliosis, and it was thought that was the end of her skating career. However, the always determined strong-willed skater battled back and was on the ice again six months later.

Menard’s mother, Barbi, said she loved the sport so much and strived to be better every day on and off the ice. That comment was echoed by her coach, Leanne van der Zweep, who said: “It has been an absolute joy to teach Joelle for the past ten plus years. She is a model student, always striving for perfection through dedication and hard work but still maintaining a humble attitude and kind heart. Her many successes demonstrate an unprecedented level of commitment and talent, and she is the most decorated skater in the 40-year history of the Winchester Skating Club. Joelle’s legacy to the WSC is the leadership and example that she has set for the next generation of aspiring athletes. Although she will be greatly missed, the lessons that she has learned in skating have helped to prepare her for the life lessons that she is only just beginning. I am so very proud to have been on this amazing skating journey with Joelle and her family.”

Menard’s mother said of her coach, “Leanne is a truly inspiring coach who helped make Joelle the skater she is today. She believed Joelle could be all she wanted to be. She is more than a coach, but a friend who wanted what was best for her. ‘Good times come and go, but the memories last forever!’”

Menard’s awards list is very lengthy: CanSkater of the Year, the Mackler Dance trophy, the Senior Sportsmanship, the Most Dedicated Intermediate, the Most Dedicated Senior, the Most Improved Intermediate, the Most Improved Senior and finally Program Assistant of the Year; and that is only in her club. She has also been competing across eastern Ontario and has been on the podium at three EOSIC competitions. Two of those have placed her in the top 14 skaters in the province at the Ontario Championships. She was the recipient of the Skate Canada CanSkater of the Year, Skate Canada Eastern Ontario Coaches Inspiration Award and the Skate Canada STARSkater of the Year. She was tested 46 times, earning her Gold Dance, Gold Skills, Gold FreeSkate and Gold Interpretive. She was also Program Assistant for the Club with the CanSkate groups since the age of 11, and coached the CanSkate group in her last year after obtaining her CanSkate level coaching certificate.

Her proud parents, Barbi and Dominque. encouraged her to reach as far she could dream and that is exactly what she did. Menard’s mother added: “As parents we always want what makes our kids happy. Every time Joelle went on the ice you knew that’s where she wanted to be. You could tell by her constant smile. Even through the many heartaches, falls, bruises she stood up with grace and always tried again. Nothing would keep her down, and she worked tremendously hard on the ice. We are super proud of Joelle, not just for her accomplishments and awards but her work ethic, her determination and just overall her love and passion for the sport.”

Menard will be continuing her studies in Sociology next year and hopes to continue coaching and skating in the future.