Francisty a fixture on the ice
Cowichan Arena is more like home to Lorraine Francisty than her own residence.
Francisty has spent considerable time in the building since its second year of operation in 1979 and other valley rinks as a skating coach.
"This is my 35th season and I've taught at all four rinks,'' she said.
Francisty also works in the arena during game nights and special events.
To many people, she is the Duncan Skating Club, having been around from the very beginning.
Francisty almost took a detour in a completely different direction after growing up in Victoria, skating at the Victoria Racquet Club from the age of eight and graduating from Mount Douglas Secondary School, but fate obviously drew her to Duncan.
"After I finished school, I skated another year,'' she said. "I was offered a job in Castlegar and I was offered a job in Duncan.''
She naturally took the latter being closer to where she grew up and called Duncan home. After so long in the same position, family trees have sprouted up all around her.
"I'm coaching the children of people that I coached,'' said Francisty.
"I've had people come up to me and say, 'Do you remember me?' I say, 'no.' I've probably taught thousands of kids.''
You can't remember them all, but Francisty does for the most part. The only thing that throws her off is how different they look from the time she had skaters as kids to when they become adults.
Responsibilities at her other home have changed, with her own kids Krystal, Kelsi and Matt, who kept her busy in skating and skiing, all making it on their own.
"I have more time to put into it with my kids being older,'' said Francisty.
She has her Level 3 coaching and taken Level 4 courses. Francisty has also sat on several committees for the B.C. and Yukon section.
"The way I've always looked at it is I become involved, I get the information first-hand, too,'' she said.
Francisty likes some of the new directions taken in skating.
"I think our new Canskate program is a lot better,'' she said. "We've been running it for two years. We were basically running a very similar program. Skate Canada wanted all the clubs standardized. We jumped on board right away.''
Francisty's coaching resume has also included synchronized skating.
"I like these kids to broaden themselves. The synchro is good for them. They don't have a team environment any other way.''
The early part of the year is always particularly hectic for Francisty. This was also Duncan's year for another skating show, Alice's Wonderland on March 1, followed by one in Lake Cowichan March 7. Just for good measure, she assisted with the staging of Fuller Lake's show March 27.
Francisty works with Marcie Walker on all aspects of the Duncan ice shows, held every two years.
"I do all the music,'' Francisty said. "She works on getting the costumes organized.''
They team up on the choreography.
"The music was tough for Alice's Wonderland,'' said Francisty. "It's never been a Broadway show. Lake Cowichan, we're doing Grease. That's easy.''
Francisty doesn't see herself hanging up the skates and calling it a career anytime soon.
"I'll keep hanging in there while I still can,'' she said. "I think if you enjoy it, you stay with it.''