ACTIVE LIFE: Former figure skater happy to hit the ice

Grace Bell, skating instructor and program assistant for the city parks, recreation and culture department, has a long history with skating. - KARL YU/The News Bulletin
Grace Bell, skating instructor and program assistant for the city parks, recreation and culture department, has a long history with skating.
— image credit: KARL YU/The News Bulletin

A love of the ice rink makes Grace Bell’s job that much more enjoyable.

The program assistant for the City of Nanaimo’s arenas and skating instructor, Bell has a long history on the ice with a background as a competitive figure skater. Being in an office for a majority of the day assisting with the running of programs and things that go on behind the scenes, it’s a welcome break to hit the ice and teach.

“I think it’s good to stay involved with the patrons and not just be behind the desk all the time,” said Bell. “It helps you know what they’re wanting and what they’re getting out of the programs we’re offering and not just being on the administrative side of it. I really like the balance.”

While competitive figure skating is different from skating, the dedication, the discipline and the passion are things she passes on to her students. Gary Paterson, city recreation coordinator for arenas and Bell’s supervisor, said because of that, she is a welcome addition.

“She’s very passionate about what she does. She has very high standards for herself and of course, for others,” Paterson said. “She’s definitely very mature, very stable, just a really neat person to have around.

“Very energetic, excited every day to be here, to kind of see what’s going to happen next with what we’re developing in programming and so on,” he said.

Even though she’s only been in her position since November, Bell is not new to the Nanaimo Ice Centre, having held a summer position in 2000 while she was still in university.

“One of my roommates worked here as an instructor and they were hiring new instructors,” Bell said. “I came in and I applied and I started working, really, just a few hours here and there between classes, maybe six, seven hours a week and by the time I was in my fourth year university, I was teaching maybe 25-30 hours a week and it just sort of grew from there.”

Whether in her job as program assistant or instructor, Bell derives a lot of satisfaction from her job.

“It’s nice to have more influence and more say and just having your contributions valued as more than just an instructor, as someone who can help bring other aspects to what we offer and what we do around here and it’s a great environment,” she said. “Your contributions do feel really valued and welcomed here. You feel like you’re part of the team.”

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