With 57 years of coaching figure skating, LaVerne Howard has seen it all.
Howard started skating when she was 13 at the Edmonton Gardens and also played volleyball and basketball but it was figure skating she really fell in love with.
“I really enjoyed skating,” she says.
One of her influences in the sport is Kurt Browning, a four-time world and national champion, also originally from Alberta.
“He’s a huge promoter of figure skating now,” said Howard of Browning, who is now a commentator and has choreographed routines for people such as twice Olympic Silver Medalist Patrick Chan.
Making the transition to coaching in 1960, she has coached not just in British Columbia but Alberta as well. She also partook in competitions outside of the two neighbouring provinces, but also Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
She came to 100 Mile House from Fort St. John in 1982 but didn’t start coaching until a year after. Howard teaches her students in three disciplines; free skating, skills and dance. Getting lessons in each category, Howard’s favourite group to work with is the younger kids because of their willingness to learn she says.
“What I find enjoyable is looking at the children’s faces when they accomplish something difficult,” said Howard
Howard was awarded the the Recreational/Grassroots Coach of the Year in 2015 by viaSport British Columbia.
LaVerne’s coaching has also yielded success for her athletes. Alysha Buchi and Vanessa Shearer won gold and silver, respectively, at a Kamloops Skating Club in March 2016. Other of her students have followed Howard’s path.
“I know I have lots of students that are coaches out there,” she said. “Kind of a legacy, I gather.”
Howard’s daughter, Danyelle, who is the president of the club, also sees her mother’s career as a legacy.
“As a coach for so many years she has produced a major legacy of skaters along the way,” she said.”She has touched the lives of both figure skaters and hockey players over the years and continues to be a great influence for our skaters now.”