LINDA STORY Special to the Standard
UXBRIDGE: Graduation Day is always a much-awaited, exciting time for high school graduates. For local skater, Ainsley Gaston, graduation became even more special.
Donated by the Uxbridge Skating Alumni, The Marion Cassie Memorial Scholarship was presented to Ainsley on June 27th at the Uxbridge Arena, with well over one thousand parents, friends and teachers in attendance to honour the 238 graduates.
To receive this scholarship, the recipient must have skated with the Uxbridge or Port Perry Skating Club and demonstrated his or her dedication to volunteerism throughout the community. Ainsley Gaston showed outstanding dedication in all areas. While skating with the Richmond Hill and Uxbridge Skating Clubs, Ms. Gaston achieved her gold levels in freeskate, dance, interpretive and her senior silver level in skating skills. To achieve these levels, Ainsley worked extremely hard with her skills, dance and competition coach, Allison MacLean, and her choreographer and freeskate coach, Cydele Sadeeva, both with the Uxbridge Skating Club. Because of her outstanding skating ability, Ms. Gaston was encouraged to become a competitive skater. She began to compete locally and then expanded to Eastern Ontario. She enjoyed excellent results in pre-juvenile, juvenile, pre-novice and novice at the Eastern Ontario Sectionals and the Ontario Winter Games.
Unfortunately, Ainsley’s competitive career was cut short when she received a severe concussion and later, a broken foot, while skating. She bravely continued to skate locally, and with the tremendous support and encouragement from her coaches, Allison and Cydele, Ainsley decided to put her love of skating and her love of children into coaching. From there, she has not looked back. Throughout many of her high school years, she coached skating, while keeping up her excellent grades at school. Ms. Gaston has coached at Stouffville and Uxbridge and is presently coaching at Beaverton and East-Gwillimbury Skating Clubs. Ainsley also teaches power skating to boys’ hockey teams and is teaching skating to adults. When asked why she travels to so many arenas, she replied, “I just enjoy helping people improve their skating skills. I love working with kids.”
Helping kids and adults has always been a goal for Ms. Gaston. In the past, she has been a program assistant on the ice, and has worked with all age groups, for several years, during the annual Uxbridge Skating Carnivals. Ainsley, always a presence at the Uxbridge Club, helped wherever she saw a need. This passion to help others has lead Ms. Gaston to her next goal: to become a paramedic. Ainsley is preparing to enter the Paramedic course at Fleming College in the fall. She will put her willingness and desire to help others to the test, not only by helping others, but by saving lives. When asked why she feels she is a good candidate for becoming a paramedic, Ms. Gaston answered confidently, “I’m good under pressure. Having to pass skating tests, and compete in competitions, I have learned to keep calm and to focus”. These are excellent qualities for a paramedic to possess.
Ainsley plans to continue to coach and skate while attending Fleming College. She hopes to pass a diamond dance and receive her gold dance skills in the future. With her terrific work ethic and her drive, those goals will surely be reached.
Ms. Gaston would like to thank the Uxbridge Skating Alumni for presenting her with the Marion Cassie Memorial Scholarship. She acknowledges that it would not have been possible without the support and encouragement from her coaches, Allison MacLean, and Cydele Sadeeva. “They brought me back to loving the sport after my injuries. They have both been wonderful mentors to me.” Ainsley’s parents, Joanne and Jacob Gaston, from Sunderland, “….. have always supported me and loved me throughout my skating career.” Ms. Gaston’s biggest and proudest praise goes to her Gramma Gail Gaston, an Uxbridge resident. “I don’t remember a competition that Gramma did not attend. She bought me my first pair of figure skates and has been with me all the way. She made me laugh when the pressure was tough during tests and competitions. She is amazing.”
A proud Uxbridge Secondary graduate and very appreciative recipient of the Marion Cassie Memorial Scholarship, Ms. Gaston is well on her way to a future full of wonderful achievements and success.