1952 - 2010
On April 2, 2010, the Guelph Skating Club lost one of their long time coaches. Wendy Dempsey was a member of GSC as a skater as well as a coach for over four decades. She lost her battle to cancer after a year long struggle. I was asked to reflect on Wendy’s legacy as I have coached with her for over 20 years and I knew her on a personal level as well. Let me begin:
Wendy had a passion for skating that was truly inspiring. She followed the elite group of skaters all over the world to cheer them on. Although Wendy did not have children of her own, the skaters throughout the years became her family in a sense. She coached in Guelph, Acton as well as Fergus throughout her career. Wendy was very instrumental at the grass roots of our club. She tended to our Canskate programs for many years. I often relied on Wendy’s fabulous memory about certain skater’s test levels, competition placements and other valuable information. There wasn’t a store that she passed without going in and looking for different stickers for the Kidskate /Canskate skaters. Needless to say, our sticker inventory is second to none in Canada! Many of Wendy’s holidays were spent at arenas watching competitions that our Guelph skaters were competing at. She travelled with me and my elite skaters across the country to support and share in their experiences. Behind the scenes she would frequently make anonymous donations to the families to help with the high costs of skating. She instilled confidence in me as my career took off and encouraged all young coaches to strive for excellence. Wendy was a very quiet and humble woman that gave so much and asked for so little in return. Over her final months in the hospital, we spent many hours reflecting back on her life. I asked her what some of her highlights were. She immediately made reference to two things. The first was directing the ice show a few years back with Katie Keane. Katie was a National level skater with the GSC and a cherished member of our coaching staff. Wendy felt so proud of how successful their show was and loved working so closely with Katie. Her most recent highlight was attending the 2009/10 Sectional competition with her long time student Claire Sheehy. She was so proud of how Claire had developed into such a beautiful skater.
Last Dec 21 Wendy was admitted to Grand River hospital and was in very poor health. We weren’t sure she would see the New Year. Her determination and will to live helped her fight long enough to be able to enjoy watching Skate Canada Nationals, the entire Olympics along with the Curling championships. Her battle ended nine days before our annual ice show. The show’s theme was “Legends and Laces”. We will remember Wendy as one of our legends. Wendy is survived by her sister Nancy and brothers Jim and Bob. She had many nieces and nephews as well as great nephews that were very much a part of her life. She also leaves many dear friends in the skating world as well as from the University of Guelph where she worked for over 30 years.
Wendy I will miss our 3:00 am phone calls that I made to you periodically when I needed you to hear the perfect piece of music for a certain skater. You held my hand and taught me how to fly without fear. Holding your hand, in your final days, was truly special. You were my right hand lady and always there when anyone needed you. Thanks dear friend for devoting your life, your heart and soul to our club. May you rest in peace. You will never be forgotten and you will skate on in our hearts forever.