By Martin Cleary
Ottawa’s Lisa Weagle is only 38, but she senses her competitive curling career is getting near the end.
And as a conscientious curler and individual, that posed an interesting question.
What should she do with all the curling knowledge and experiences she has collected over the past 30 years as a highly-ranked lead involved in provincial, national, world and Olympic championships, as well as being a certified coach and a professional communicator for the past 20 years?
Well, in Weagle’s case, it was rather simple. Share that knowledge and pass it along to the next generation of youth curlers.
As a result, the two-time Olympian, three-time Canadian champion and gold-, silver-, and bronze-medallist at the world championships has started the Lisa Weagle Curling Academy.
Registration opened Monday at LisaWeagle.ca and she’ll accept the first 24 competitive curlers on a first-come, first-served basis from ages 14 to 18, “who are actively competing in U18 events or participating in weekly competitive leagues.”
As of early Tuesday evening, 19 competitive curlers had registered for the academy, leaving five spots available.
“Athletes I talk to now are hungry for more information and want great coaching,” Weagle said in a recent phone interview. “We’ll make sure the fundamentals are covered, but we’ll make sure we set you up for success in the future.”
The Manotick Curling Centre, which enters its 60th season in 2023-24, will be the home for Weagle’s academy. Weekly sessions will run Tuesdays from Oct. 17 to Dec. 19 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The athletes will sharpen their curling knowledge and skills through a blend of classroom instruction and on-ice training. They also will have exclusive access to a private online resource hub to provide more materials and tools.
The cost of the 10-week intense academy is $875.00 plus HST.
Weagle served as the lead for 11 years under Ottawa Curling Club skip Rachel Homan and played a vital role at all levels of their success. She made a second Olympic appearance as fifth with Jennifer Jones in 2022. Weagle felt opening an academy was the right thing to do at this point.
She remembers how much she enjoyed working with the Homan team at their pre-season youth camps to develop future curlers.
“I want to take what I’ve learned and pass it on. It’s important to me. My career is coming to an end. There are so many engaged in the game and they want to play at a high level,” Weagle said.
Individually, Weagle can bring a lot to the table, whether it’s shot making, how to play in major competitions and coaching. Weagle is a certified curling coach and a Curling Canada coaching consultant in the NextGen and National Wheelchair Curling programs.
During her time with the Homan rink, she learned from some of the best coaches in Canada – Andrea Ronnebeck (2010-12), Earle Morris (2012-14), Richard Hart (2014-15), Marcel Rocque (2015-16, 2018-20) and Adam Kingsbury (2016-18).
Weagle has assembled an impressive staff of elite players, qualified coaches and professionals in related sports fields in her first year of the academy.
· Jamie Sinclair of Osgoode, ON., three-time U.S.A. women’s champion, two world championship appearances, 2007 Canada Winter Games gold medallist.
· Emily Deschênes of Ottawa, 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, 2022 world junior B curling champion.
· Cameron Goodkey of Ottawa, 2019 OUA and USports champion.
· David Mathers, five Brier appearances, 2023 Ontario mixed doubles champion.
· Gary Rowe, coach with more than 20 years experience.
· Adam Kingsbury, pro coach, coaches Matt Dunstone rink, licensed clinical psychologist.
· Craig Adams, a former athlete with 17 years of professional training and nutritional guidance experience.
During the academy’s 10-week session, Weagle and her staff will focus on numerous parts of curling, including delivery analysis using video and laser, sweeping analysis using video and Smart Broom, strategy and tactics, mental performance including competing under pressure, fitness and nutrition, practice drills and technology, communication and team dynamics, and mixed doubles 101.
In the future, Weagle hopes to stage a winter academy session, but that was impossible for this season. Weagle is Canada’s Chef de Mission for the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games Jan. 19 to Feb. 1 in Gangwon, Korea.
Weagle also will be entering mixed doubles curling competitions this season with long-time partner John Epping of Toronto. They hope to qualify for the Canadian trials for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
“It’s a lot of work trying to get a business off the ground,” Weagle added. “I have to make sure I’m doing it the right way.”
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 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 High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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