Speed Skating Canada’s Gagné Family Award is awarded yearly to the family that has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the sport. This year’s recipients are well known within the Fort St. John community as the Stickel family has played a huge part over the past number of years training local skaters.
Richard Stickel started teaching speed skaters in 1999, and took over as head coach of the Elks back in 2001. He said he initially got involved in speed skating to help his children get comfortable on the ice.
“We put my son in speed skating to teach him how to skate for hockey,” he admitted. “We have a daughter that’s a year and a half younger and she liked it so we got involved that way. I had been coaching hockey but I promised my daughter there too. Somehow or another I ended up as head coach so I stayed there.”
While he was thankful for the award, he admitted to feeling a bit shy when it comes to the recognition because of the efforts and dedication put into the sport by others. That being said it was especially meaningful as the award gave credit to other members of the family.
“You see so many people that put so much time into the sport and all sports so you kind of feel a little bit embarrassed for being singled out, but I was really happy for it to be a family award. My wife puts in so much work with it and my daughters are going to school and competing and they took such an interest and took that on as well at a young age.”
Stickel’s wife Dee-Ann, along with their daughters Dayna, Kathryn, and Eryn have all made various contributions to speed skating.
“All three of my daughters coached the cradle group, the youngest group and took responsibility for that and made the practice plans,” he said. My wife is a level three meet coordinator and a level three recorder so she can do national events. She can do national events and has done quite a few big events.”
While summer is just beginning, plans are in the works for the upcoming speed skating season. The Elks will be having their speed skating summer camp at the Pomeroy Sport Centre August 26-30.