On the heels of celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday and Festival of Lights 30th Birthday, celebrations continue in the Valley. This season marks the 50th anniversary of Fuller Lake Skating Club (FLSC). In the spirit of the club’s founders, the organization continues to promote, support and enrich the lives of many through skating.
To celebrate FLSC, the public is invited to the March 24th ice show, “Canadian Road Trip,” where we highlight our passion, as well as Canada’s 150th. There will be a 2 p.m. matinee and 6 p.m. evening show.
Established in 1968, the year of the opening of Fuller Lake Arena, FLSC is a member of SkateCanada, the national governing body for figure skating in Canada, recognized by the International Skating Union and the Canadian Olympic Committee. As a member of Skate Canada, all skaters in the club receive coaching and development that supports the disciplines of the sport: dance, skills , free skate and interpretive skating. Skaters may join the club at any age and move through the introductory CanSkate program to develop foundational skills, such as stroking, stopping, gliding, balance and introductory spins. Once hooked by the love of the sport, skaters can begin the test/competitive stream where they develop confidence to perform their skills to music in solo performances. FLSC has also expanded to include a synchronized team, Fuller Lake Fusion, of 16 skaters who build skills to perform simultaneously.
FLSC’s Head Coach Shannon McKinlay is a long-time “Valley Girl,” who began her skating career in Lake Cowichan. She has been with FLSC for many seasons and has over 20 years coaching experience. She has developed a program that exposes our skaters to a wealth of skating strengths by building a coaching team of professionals that share their unique talents on the ice. Lorraine Francisty has 33 years of teaching and is our dance specialist. Adrian Matei is a four-time Romanian national silver medalist and is our jump and spin specialist. Kailee Bowman has 10 years coaching experience and is our interpretive style coach. In addition, Shannon has created a culture of mentorship where our advanced skaters “pay it forward” as assistants for our CanSkate program. “Each one teach one” is a philosophy that is woven throughout the club and shines brightly on the ice.
A strength of FLSC is the Power Skating Program. Under the leadership of Clive Shillingford, this program develops the skating skills required to elevate hockey performance in emerging NHL stars. Ice time includes drills and stroking refinement that supports hockey players at both junior and senior levels.
Led by our current and long standing (or, in skating terms, gliding) President Luisa Shillingford, FLSC remains focused on sustaining a vibrant environment where all skaters can explore their love of the sport. Under her steady hand, the active executive and parent volunteers work hard to ensure that the full spectrum of options within the Skate Canada framework are available for skaters at all levels. No small feat for a club of 42 Skate Canada level skaters, 44 CanSkaters and 60 Power Skaters. FLSC leadership has developed many hours of on and off ice for our club and, through cooperation with neighbouring clubs, has expanded our season into the late spring.
We are proud that over the 50 years of club history many of our skaters have achieved the highest level of Gold and Diamond tests set by SkateCanada. Several have competed at provincial and national levels. Several have gone on to pay it forward by performing professionally in touring ice shows that took their love of performing all over the world. Others have become professional instructors, who support the next generation of “rink rats.” And many have become mothers and fathers who passed their love of blades, ice and freedom that skating provides on to their children. Our club is truly intergenerational. We have grandparents and parents gathered at rink side to cheer on our current skaters while remembering their own magical skating memories.
The high level of commitment of the coaches, executive and ultimately our skaters is sure to bring success to all those associated with the FLSC. While some will go on to be Canada’s next Chan, or Virtue and Moir, many will gain through their love of this sport the discipline to learn, the encouragement to dream and the bravery to know that when they fall in any performance, they can get up and carry on.