Injuries moved Marianne Laporte from competing to coaching, but passion brought her back
Marianne Laporte wasn’t out of figure skating long. It was less than a month. It was impossible for her to not be involved in the sport in some capacity.
It was December 2008. She had just finished her last high-level competition and her body was tired and sore and beat up. She had been battling leg injuries for a while and wasn’t satisfied with her results over the year.
Laporte figured it was the end of her figure-skating career. She quit after 13 years of pouring her heart and soul into the sport.
Coaches at the Sudbury Skating Club, such as Wendy Philion and Heather Basso, encouraged Laporte to try coaching and stay involved.
Laporte agreed and quickly earned her coaching certification and began helping instruct young skaters at the SSC in January 2009.
She has been doing it ever since.
“I found out it was hard to stop something I had been doing almost all my life,” Laporte said.
“Skating is my life and has been for so long. I couldn't imagine it not being in my life. I had to be involved. I will always be involved.”
Laporte started skating in 1995. She originally went to sign up for gymnastics, but it was full, so Laporte’s mother convinced her to try figure skating instead. With further encouragement from her mother, Laporte took up the sport full time the following season.
She quickly went from a novice to a skilled and graceful competitor. She reached the highest level in Canada, senior ladies, and earned her share of awards and medals over the years. She was a six-time national-level competitor.
Needless to say, competing became a key element in what drove Laporte on a day-to-day basis.
Within three months of becoming a coach, Laporte was back on the ice herself, training as a competitor again in March. Laporte chuckled that her retirement from figure skating was brief. She was inspired by the younger skaters she was helping coach.
“After watching the skaters work hard and helping them achieve their goals, I decided to start skating again because they motivated me to be a better skater and not give up on my own goals,” the 24-year-old said.
“I thank them for pushing me to keep on going.
“I had quit skating to try other things and move on with life, but with coaching, I was at the rink more often than when I skated.”
Isabelle Sonier, 16, is one skater from the club who was thrilled Laporte stayed involved through coaching.
Laporte works with Sonier on her choreography. The two have known each other for 12 years. They share a strong bond — Sonier is one of Laporte’s bridesmaids.
Skating is my life and has been for so long. I couldn't imagine it not being in my life. I had to be involved.
Competitive figure skater and coach
Sonier and other skaters like Laporte’s approach to the sport and her happy attitude. Her enthusiasm rubs off on them, she said.
“I have always looked up to her because of her passion for the sport and how hard she works,” Sonier said. “She is a role model for any young skater. She is still my role model. She has taught me to skate with heart and to have determination to go after my goals.
“She is always encouraging the best out of skaters.”
Long story short, Laporte has brought her passion and fire for the sport to coaching. She did the same as a competitor and her impact at the club has been undeniably positive.
“Marianne’s love for skating is obvious whenever she is at the rink,” SSC coach Heather Basso said. “She always makes time for everyone who needs her help. She still skates herself, so she is able to help the skaters by demonstrating.
“She also encourages the younger skaters by assuring them she had many hurdles get over as a skater and offers them advice. They have watched her skate and are eager to learn from her.”
Laporte graduated from the health and promotion program at Laurentian University and works at the Canadian Diabetes Association as the SudburyROCKS!!! Race, Run or Walk for Diabetes co-ordinator.
Coaching has allowed her to reflect, in a different light, on the sport she loves. She struggles to find the words of how coaching makes her feel. But the pleasure and satisfaction it provides is clearly evident by the wide smile on her face as she talks about it.
Laporte relishes the moments when she stands back with other club coaches and watches the athletes perform.
“Coaching means the world to me,” Laporte said. “To be able to work with the skaters and help them improve and reach the goals I once had myself is special. I don't think I could explain in words what that feels like. I am lucky to have the job I have.
“It isn't work. It is my passion and I am happy I am able to share my passion with so many little skaters that will, maybe, share their passion with the next generation.”
Scott Haddow has been writing about sports in Greater Sudbury for the past 10 years.