Home is where the heart is according to an old saying and for speed skater Jeremy Wotherspoon, home is also where he garnered the bulk of his support for an outstanding career.
“This is where I got my start. This is where all the people are who supported me as a kid, as a teenager and developing as an athlete,” he said on the eve of his formal induction into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in Red Deer.
He has a list of athletic accomplishments as long as a speedskating oval but Wotherspoon says being a part of the history recognized in the hall is special.
He also took a moment to recognize all the businesses, corporations and individuals who played a role in getting him to this point, saying they had a huge impact on his life.
Trying to pick something from that long list which would stand out in his mind is a difficult task he said but he did point out the ones which resonate with him aren’t necessarily the records set on the ice.
“A great race on a day when I was feeling sick or the first time I achieved something,” he explained were examples of what he’s most proud of in his career.
Those types of accomplishments were the ones which boosted his confidence, made him feel like he belonged and could compete against the best in the world, he said.
“It’s races like that that I’m the most proud of probably because they are the races where I learned the most about myself.”
The lessons he’s learned over many years on the track are now being shared by his pupils as he has been coaching the past two years in a small town in Germany near the Swiss Alps.
Wotherspoon says he likes the coaching aspect of his life because it’s very much a multi-dimensional occupation which challenges him to be creative and forces him to rely on his education and his experience.
He’s also learning how difficult it can be to manage a team of skaters who may have races on different days in different regions.
“I’d say I’m still learning. It’s still something where I make some mistakes and think why didn’t I think of that six months ago,” he said.
He’s mentoring a blend of athletes which range in age from 17 to their mid-20’s.
“Some are really at an elite level winning races in world cups, some are junior development level hoping just to qualify for world cups in the next couple of years.”
Wotherspoon was a sprinter so he’s also had to broaden his library of knowledge as a skater having to deal with ones who are sprinters, some long distance and some middle distance athletes.
“I can’t just say this is what I did and it worked so now you do it and it will work because I’m different than anybody else so I have to use that but also remember what things didn’t work for me and how that can impact on how I relate to my skaters,” he said.
He plans on staying overseas to coach for many more years to come but admits he’d like to come back to Canada and share his knowledge with some home grown skaters.
“I’m not sure what level or what role I’d be but I’m sure I could find something I’d want to invest my time and energy in.”