Their skates are more comfortable than their shoes.
That’s what will make retirement so difficult for Brad and Wendy Loosley. The Petrolia couple who have been a constant presence in the skating world for 47 and 34 years respectively have decided to spend time with each other and grandchildren without worrying about getting up at 4 am in the morning.
It is, in a way, surprising the pair have been on the ice, often together, for so long.
Brad, a hockey player turned figure skater, was helping with testing at his home arena in Woodstock. He had his eye on a young skater named Wendy and was working up the courage to ask her out. Then, he was told to test her.
And how did that go? “Not well,” says Wendy rolling her eyes while sitting in the home they share in Petrolia today. “I didn’t pass her,” says Brad with his trademark twinkle in his eye.
And then, a little defensively but still joking “I had to judge her fairly…I couldn’t be baised.”
“Brad has always been more competitive than me,” says Wendy. “I skate because I love it.”
And Wendy has taught many other to love it too. When her husband came to Petrolia to take the job as the parks and recreation supervisor, Wendy began to teach skating with her one-year-old son at the rink with her.
Later, when their second son was born, he came along to the lessons, too. “We had skaters from all over the county coming at 6 am,” says Brad. “They were getting up at 4:30 in the morning getting ready to skate.”
And so was the Loosley family, with everyone rising to get to the rink for the early morning practice. “I say the family that skates together stays together,” says Wendy. “We introduced our kids to skating just so they could skate for school but both of them fell in love with it.” One son is an adjudicator; the other makes his living skating for Disney.
While their kids were at the rink, they made lots of friends and Wendy says they became part of the extended family. “We’ve taught so many kids, 100s really and the kids we taught now are bringing their kids to the rink to skate.”
Brad says some of the students who moved away for college would return to the rink at Christmas just to say hello to Wendy – not surprising he says considering her dedication to teaching children.
“I’ve seen Wendy on her hands and knees trying to convince the little guys to stand up and skate,” he says.
While it was time to step back from skating – Wendy has been teaching daily lessons in Pt. Edward for the past eight years and Brad was helping with pairs skating – they know they will miss it.
“It is going to be difficult when winter comes and the registration comes and we’re not sitting at the table telling our kids where to sign up,” says Wendy. “After 34 years of the Hokey Pokey and the Bird Dance, it’s not going to be the same.
“To not be on the ice will be strange,” she adds. “To not put on skates will be strange because they’re more comfortable than the shoes.”
The pair is looking forward to spending more time with their own grandchildren and finishing up jobs around the house they’ve long wanted to do. Mostly, there excited to be able to come and go without worrying about being up at 4 am to go to the rink.
“But never say never,” says Brad about the possibility of helping out in the future. “But right now we want to try something different.”