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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Queen’s grad Lisa Weagle among athletes & coaches gaining certificates during competition pause

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

Thanks to the unwelcome COVID-19 pandemic, competition in the Ottawa amateur sports scene has been shut down for the last 11 months. While the athletes have felt its full force, they haven’t stopped moving.

High-performance athletes are allowed to train at their clubs, others have found innovative ways to stay fit, and still others have used the extra time for personal and career development. Curler Lisa Weagle is a perfect example.

Team Jennifer Jones curler Lisa Weagle, in action with her former Team Homan rink. File photo

After serving 10 years as the lead for skip Rachel Homan, she was released from the Ottawa rink last spring. But Jennifer Jones quickly added Weagle to her skilled team. Even with no games, Weagle has been busy off the ice.

The Canadian Olympic Committee’s Game Plan selected her as a coaching education grant recipient, which allowed her in the fall to start working towards Curling Competition Development Coaching Certification.

She also earned a Certificate in Business from Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.

“Taking the courses reaffirmed my love of marketing and communications. I broadened my knowledge of finance and accounting,” Weagle wrote on LinkedIn.

Uptick in coaching courses during sports stall

Not everyone has been as busy as Weagle. But there have been many opportunities offered to athletes and coaches to stay in touch with their sport, even if they can’t play games, go to tournaments or celebrate championships.

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Many associations are offering courses to coaches to help them improve their knowledge and be ready when their sports resume in the future. The Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations is doing the same for its provincial athletes and coaches.

OFSAA, the governing body for high school sports in Ontario, has offered student-athletes a variety of virtual athletic challenges and the virtual Student Forum is on the horizon for March 24-26.

And the teacher-coaches haven’t been forgotten. Every week, they can drop by the OFSAA Cafe for a 20- to 30-minute session to learn more about school sports, unconventional sports and alternative teaching methods.

On the heels of the OFSAA-Altis Digital Education course, which attracted 147 track-and-field and cross-country running coaches province-wide, OFSAA is now encouraging its female teacher-coaches to upgrade their coaching status.

From March 1-6, OFSAA has partnered with the Coaches Association of Ontario and the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries (with financial support) to allow female coaches to obtain NCCP certification.

There is no charge for the course, which can be taken in English or French, and runs after school March 1-4 and the morning of March 6. The online course will focus on five National Coaches Certification Program multi-sport modules.

The five modules are: Make Ethical Decisions, Basic Mental Skills, Teaching and Learning, Planning a Practice, and Coaching in Ontario Schools. The 22-hour certification course is meant to increase coaching knowledge and physical literacy skills.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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