Club partnership paves way for skater's big showing at Sectionals

Artistic award winner Yolanda Tan came from Burnaby to Richmond club a year ago

A unique partnership between two clubs has produced one promising skater and more could be on the way.

Yolanda Tan completed her competitive season by winning silver in the Juvenile Women U14 Division at last month’s B.C. Yukon Sectional Championships in Kelowna. The 13-year-old was not only second among 28 entries with a personal best score of 30.46 points but also the winner of the division’s prestigious artistic award.

Tan had spent much of her career with the Burnaby Skating Club before coming over to Connaught Skating in Richmond about a year ago. It was through the advice of her longtime coach Shelley Hewins who had reached out to Connaught’s director of programs Keegan Murphy. The thought was to enhance Tan’s progress by putting her with a club that had more resources at the competitive level and ice time too.

“Shelley and I have known each other for a long time. She was director in Burnaby for many years and did a wonderful job. We have a great relationship,” explained Murphy. “We always talked about Yolanda and I had watched her for a long time.”

“Shelley wanted to step away a little bit so she reached out to me to see if we could help their club, not only with Yolanda, but also from a staffing and a directional point of view too. Just some overall guidance in technical advancement and training methods.”
Tan began training with Connaught up to six days a week, working exclusively with coaches Leah Warwick and Matt McEwan. She thrived in her new competitive environment.

“I was now training with skaters that I usually compete against so it helped to push me,” smiled the David Thompson Secondary student. “Shelley was great and the coaches are really good here just helping and encouraging me even when I might not be having a good day.”

The arrangement also has Warwick as part of the Burnaby Skating Club staff as a Senior Coach Consultant. On top of her many hours on the ice in Richmond, Warwick also attends one training session a week in Burnaby. 

“The intention at first was to get to know their program — the coaches and skaters —  and figure out their needs. Help make the whole club stronger,” explained Warwick. “I will teach a skater and coaches will be there (watching). I also will step aside and just observe the session.

“I get to work throughout the week here with Yolanda too and it gives me sort of a connection and respective what was and is being taught (in Burnaby). It’s really wonderful there are clubs that are open to this sort of partnership and want to embrace making the sport better and the whole province better.”
Murphy added Tan’s performance at Sectionals was further vindication of the new partnership.

“Yolanda is still a big part of her hometown club. Hopefully she is a role model and an inspiration to the skaters there. I’m really proud as an organization to support clubs that maybe are more local and grassroots than us. Giving them the coaching resources that can lift up their membership too.”

© Richmond News