Popular skating coaches hang ‘em up

Wendy and Brad Loosley are retiring after coaching countless local children in figure skating. Heather Wright Photo

Heather Wright

They find skates more comfortable than shoes, which is what will make retirement so hard for Brad and Wendy Loosley.

Sarnia’s former acting city clerk and his wife have been a constant presence in the skating world for 47 and 34 years respectively. But they want to spend time with each other and the grandchildren, without worrying about getting up at 4 a.m.

Brad Loosley is a hockey player turned figure skater who was helping with testing at his home arena in Woodstock. He had his eye on a young skater named Wendy and was working up the courage to ask her out. Then, he was told to test her.

And how did that go?

“Not well,” says Wendy, rolling her eyes while sitting in their Petrolia home.

“I didn’t pass her,” adds Brad, with a twinkle in his eye.  “I had to judge her fairly … I couldn’t be biased.”

“Brad has always been more competitive than me,” says Wendy. “I skate because I love it.”

Wendy Loosley has taught many others to love it as well over her long teaching career.

“I say the family that skates together stays together,” she says, noting many times the family arose at 4 a.m. for practices at the rink.

“We introduced our kids to skating just so they could skate for school, but both of them fell in love with it.”

One son is an adjudicator; the other makes his living skating for Disney.

While their kids were at the rink they made lots of friends who became part of the extended family, Wendy says.

“We’ve taught so many kids, hundreds really, and the kids we taught now are bringing their kids to the rink.”

Some students who moved away for college would return to the rink at Christmas just to say hello.

“I’ve seen Wendy on her hands and knees trying to convince the little guys to stand up and skate,” Brad says.

Wendy has been teaching daily lessons in the Point Edward Arena for the past eight years, and Brad has helped with pairs skating.

They know they’ll miss it.

“It is going to be difficult when winter comes and the registration comes and we’re not sitting at the table telling our kids where to sign up,” says Wendy.  “After 34 years of the Hokey Pokey and the Bird Dance, it’s not going to be the same.”

The pair is looking forward to spending more time with their grandchildren and finish up long-delayed jobs around the house.

“To not put on skates will be strange because they’re more comfortable than the shoes,” Wendy says.

“But never say never,” adds Brad about helping out in the future. “But right now we want to try something different.”

 Heather Wright is publisher and editor of The Independent in Petrolia