Celebrating a Coach's 40 Years of Service - Learn to Skate

Celebrating a Coach’s 40 Years of Service

Celebrating Linda Donnelly’s 40 Years of Service

The Pickering Skating Club would like Linda Donnelly to know how much her forty years of service is appreciated. We consider our people our most important core value and we are proud of the fact that many Coaches remain with the club for so many years. It is not often that an organization gets the opportunity to recognize this length of service.

Linda DonnellyLinda Burt (Donnelly) was born in Calgary, Alberta and began skating at the age of seven. At that time, her family resided in St. Albert and the closest club was the Edmonton Figuring Skating Club. At nine years of age, Linda would take the Greyhound Bus, by herself, from St. Albert to Edmonton, to have the opportunity to skate.

In 1965, her family moved to Toronto where Linda joined the Unionville Figure Skating Club and the Upper Canada Figure Skating Club. By far Linda’s greatest highlight is passing her eighth figure test shortly after turning 17 on her first attempt, a very rare occurrence.

“I remember that day very clearly because every skater taking the high test scheduled before me had failed. My test was the last test of the day and schedule for 9:00 PM, things were not looking on the positive side for me. However, it all came together and I passed on my first attempt! I was on cloud nine!” – Linda Donnelly

Miss Toro Linda DonnellyLinda became a celebrity when she was chosen to be World Hockey Association’s (WHA) Miss Toro. It was Linda’s job to lead the WHA Toros onto the ice at every home game held at the Varsity Arena.

“Once a week petite, blue eyed, blonde Linda has twenty-one muscular men following her around” – Doug Philpott, Toronto Reporter.

After guiding the players onto the ice, she would dazzle the spectators with her spins and jumps, promoting the art of figure skating. The WHA attempted to challenge the National Hockey League between 1972 and 1979. Not saying Linda had anything to do with this but, sixty-seven players jumped from the NHL to the WHA including stars like Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, Frank Mahovlich and Paul Henderson. The rivalry between the Toro’s and the Maple Leafs became infamous as the Ballard and Bassett families went head to head. As Miss Toro, Linda was forced to hide a dark secret – her favourite hockey player was NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs’ Eddie Shack.

Linda and Eric DonnellyIn 1972, Linda became smitten with a young man she met, at where else? An arena! Eric was working part time at the newly opened Hyland’s Ice Skating Centre where Linda skated, and also worked part time. It didn’t take long for this Miss Toro to get his attention.

Linda turned pro and became a figure skating coach in 1973 at the young age of eighteen. She began coaching for the Scarborough Figure Skating Cub and was quickly recruited to coach for the Unionville and Ajax Figure Skating Clubs.

Eric knew Linda was a valuable catch and married her in June of 1975. The two have three wonderful sons; Sean 37, Scott 32 and Kyle 30. The family continues to grow and now includes two fantastic grandsons. Linda is still hopeful that she will have a granddaughter to pass along her figure skating passion (hint, hint Sean, Scott & Kyle).

Linda Donnelly and Brooke FarrellExpert coaches take their craft seriously and the differences between a good coach and a great one may be subtle, but they can make a world of difference. Linda is NCCP Level 2 Certified; Gold Medalist in Figures, Freeskate and Dance, the highest level of certification. Beyond her credentials, it is her professionalism and the relationship that she establishes with her students that makes her an outstanding coach.

“Coach Linda is a great coach because she always makes me laugh, pushes me to do my best and takes the time to ensure I understand new skills.” – Brooke Farrell

Linda Donnelly and Holly BraniganLinda began Coaching for the Pickering Skating Club in 1976, shortly after the club was formed. What does forty years look like? Well, forty years ago the summer Olympics were held in Montreal, the CN Tower was completed and the average cost of a new house was $43,000.

Coach Linda DonnellyLinda is a very modest person and other than the above mentioned highlights, she is most proud of all the skaters she has coached over the past forty years. She derives utmost satisfaction from knowing that she has helped skaters achieve their personal best, witnessing several of them become gold medalist and some become coaches themselves.

“It gives me great pleasure to pass on the fundamentals of skating to our clubs’ young skaters and I hope they begin to love the sport as much as I do” – Linda

Pickering Skating Club CoachesOur coaches are the cornerstone of the organization and without their cooperation and dedication the Pickering Skating Club would not be the organization it is today. In honour of Linda Donnelly, and her forty years of service, City of Pickering’s Mayor Dave Ryan presented Linda with Civic Achievement Award on April 9, 2016, at the Pickering Ice Show. Additionally, the Pickering Skating Club Board of Directors have established a new annual award, in Linda Donnelly’s name, to recognize a STARSkater who has demonstrated excellence and exemplifies athleticism, leadership and sportsmanship. Congratulations Linda on your milestone and thank you for everything you do for our club.