Luisa Shillingford on the ice with husband Cleve. Between the figure skating and power skating programs, they’ve spent many long hours at Fuller Lake Arena. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Luisa Shillingford on the ice with husband Cleve. Between the figure skating and power skating programs, they’ve spent many long hours at Fuller Lake Arena. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Dedicated figure skating president keeps club thriving

Shillingford knows the job so well she can do it with her eyes closed

Luisa Shillingford has always stepped in whenever the Fuller Lake Skating Club needed a president.

In the last two decades, the Ladysmith resident has presided over the organization for all but three short breaks when Jonalee Gagnon, Peter Banks and Oura Giakoumakis assumed the role briefly.

Executive members are now being determined for the 2022-23 season and Jenn Torres Hernandez has put her name forward for president so Shillingford may make the rare switch back to past president for a while in the year ahead.

“She decided she’d like to give it a try,” said Shillingford of her successor. “I never put my name in till the end.”

More often than not, that meant she automatically became the president because no one else elected to take on the job.

Shillingford, who turns 58 in September, hasn’t minded because it’s all for the love of the skaters and keeping the club going.

“If you don’t have a president, there’s no club,” she stressed. “I definitely want a club.”

At the same time, husband Cleve Shillingford, who turns 60 Sept. 5, has been in charge of the power skating program for the club so it’s been a family affair at Fuller Lake Arena, with many long hours spent at the rink.

Luisa Shillingford was born in the Philippines and met Cleve when she was just 14 while attending the same high school in Toronto.

They got married in 1989 and had two children, Brittany, who’s now 31, and Corey, 28.

“Living in Toronto, we wanted our kids to learn how to skate,” said Luisa.

Cleve had played high-level hockey, but “I’m not a figure skater, by any means,” Luisa laughed.

Brittany went on to do very well at figure skating, including many years in the Fuller Lake club after the Shillingfords eventually moved to the Island in 2000, and she also became a coach.

Corey played hockey and got into power skating.

Luisa initially took over as president of the Fuller Lake club when Ellen McEwan left the position unexpectedly.

At one time, there weren’t a lot of kids left skating in the club so it took a concerted effort to build it back up again.

“To make sure this club would be successful, we got more kids,” said Luisa. “I think we’re a pretty successful club. We have pretty good skaters. Our skaters are very respectful.”

Shillingford runs her own Leaps and Bounds Child Care Services business in Ladysmith and that became an ideal way to attract more kids into the sport. Many of the kids in her child care went into the Parent and Tot program with the club.

She currently has about 13 kids and “my whole basement’s a day care,” Shillingford indicated. “When I’m alone, I go upstairs and close the door.”

It still remains a challenge today to keep the club numbers at a certain level, but she’s up for it.

“The power skaters are always booming,” noted Shillingford. “They seem to love it. Our figure skaters are doing pretty good.”

She’s looking forward to helping Torres Hernandez feel comfortable as president that will mark a big change.

“I’m there to train her,” Shillingford said. “I just don’t have to hold meetings.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time. It’s like doing the job with my eyes closed. I’m so organized and you have to be. I have the day care.

“It’s really nice. I have my day care kids here. I’ve seen them all grow up and become a great hockey player or a figure skater. It makes me proud.”

Like every other organization, the skating club has been figuring out things as it goes along with the COVID protocols to continue operating uninterrupted the last two years.

“This year was better than last year,” conceded Shillingford. “Last year the parents weren’t allowed to come and see it.”

She’s happy an ice show will likely return next year for the first time since the COVID outbreak. The kids long look forward to skating in the well-orchestrated and elaborate ice shows as a highlight every second year at Fuller Lake.


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don.bodger@chemainusvalleycourier.ca

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Luisa Shilllingford with some of her day care kids at Fuller Lake Arena. They receive an introduction to skating merely through Shillingford’s constant presence at Fuller Lake Arena. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Luisa Shilllingford with some of her day care kids at Fuller Lake Arena. They receive an introduction to skating merely through Shillingford’s constant presence at Fuller Lake Arena. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Luisa Shillingford with daughter Brittany. (Photo submitted)

Luisa Shillingford with daughter Brittany. (Photo submitted)

Luisa Shillingford on the ice with some of the younger kids. (Photo submitted)

Luisa Shillingford on the ice with some of the younger kids. (Photo submitted)

Luisa Shillingford cozies up to Santa during one of the Fuller Lake Skating Club’s Christmas skates. (Photo submitted)

Luisa Shillingford cozies up to Santa during one of the Fuller Lake Skating Club’s Christmas skates. (Photo submitted)

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