A Pathway of Opportunities: Inspiring Women in Sport (Part 3 - Meghan Buttle and Jennifer Ferris)

Friday, January 31, 2020
By: David Grossman

 

Canadian Sport Institute Ontario believes in the power of sport and the importance of positive, inspiring role models and mentors at all levels of sport. This 5-part article series, written by award-winning sport journalist David Grossman, was designed to showcase how these remarkable women in the industry have used sport, and the many transferable skills learned through sport, as a pathway to professional opportunities and leadership positions.

In partnership with Sport Canada and their funding support for Gender Equity in Sport and Safety in Sport initiatives, CSIO strives to be a leader in advocating for a more inclusive, gender equitable sport system.

-

Jennifer Ferris and Meghan Buttle are never more at home than when they are illustrating the important role that sport has, and continues to play, in their lives.

But, as with everything in life, things can, at times, go in a slightly different direction.

Ferris grew up in the Northern Ontario city of Sault Ste. Marie, and Buttle spent a good part of her younger years about seven hours further northeast, in Smooth Rock Falls.

As Ferris saw it, the thing to do in the winter months was play curling or hockey. She chose the rock and broom over the puck and skates.

For her, the initiation to curling started around the days of Parkland Public School. Ferris became hooked on the sport, often playing after classes.

Buttle, a talented figure skater left home at age 14 and pursued education in Barrie at Innisdale Secondary School while training at the Mariposa School of Skating. She liked the full-service international training centre that focused on elite year-round programs.

Curling and Ferris, figure skating and Buttle.

“For me, that was the thing to do, I was good at (curling) and gone went the days of piano and other sports,” said Ferris who, in her high school days, would be chosen Curler of the Year at White Pines Collegiate. “I was very lucky in that my first positive experience in curling came from a coach who went on to help Canadians at the World Championships and Olympics.”

That man, one of the most respected curling coaches in Canada, happened to be Tom Coulterman, who was also a chemistry teacher at White Pines. Ferris ended up with the best of both: school and curling.

Jennifer Ferris (2nd from left) pictured with a group of coaches whom she was training at a Competition Development Workshop in BC (Photo: Jennifer Ferris)

With curling being a part of her lifeline, Ferris also pursued a teenage ambition of working in respiratory therapy. Entrenched in that profession for 16 years, Ferris would have an opportunity to work, as a consultant, for Curling Canada.

In 2014, conversations and connections progressed, and Ferris was appointed Manager of Programs and Operations for the Ontario Curling Council, a delivery arm for the sport in the province.

“We are the biggest regional curling association in the world, some 55,000 curlers in 240 clubs, and one of the major objectives was to figure out an effective way to develop curlers and coaches – make them that much better,” said Ferris.

Jennifer Ferris, camp director (front row, right) at the Inaugural Trillium Adult Development Camp. (Photo: Ontario Curling Council)

The link to Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) was about to happen.

Now running an efficient and impressive high performance program, Ferris points to CSIO for the huge role it has made in helping to shape and improve curling at the provincial level.

“We are trending upwards in results since 2015 and continue to show significant improvement,” said Ferris, who had earlier parted with her competitive days to focus on an important role in coaching. “CSIO has top notch people, great advisers with a wealth of knowledge that have contributed immensely in our success. If I was to summarize (CSIO) in one word, and the role they play, it would be - professional.”

Jennifer Ferris, coach (far right) pictured with Curling Canada’s 2019-2020 National Next Gen Athletes (Photo: Curling Canada)

Buttle, a former high school Athlete of the Year, thrived on figure skating, but was fixated with a future in physiotherapy after being well educated with degrees from universities in Toronto and Waterloo.

“As a kid, I loved being out and in front of everyone,” said Buttle, now a physiotherapist at CSIO. “I was four years old when I earned my learn to skate badge. Then, four years later, my first competition and remember flying to Timmins, then driving to Kapuskasing - and falling.”

Meghan Buttle - first time on skates in Abitibi Canyon (Northern Ontario community). (Photo: Meghan Buttle)

Better times would prevail for Buttle who, at age 14, qualified for her first National figure skating championship held in Ottawa. She would thrive on training and benefit from superb coaching. Figure skating being a passion, Buttle also knew she couldn’t make a living off the sport.

Divisional Championships 1995 – first time Meghan qualified for the National Figure Skating Championships in the Novice Dance event. (Photo: Meghan Buttle)

A sound education led to 13 years of work in sport medicine and Buttle recalls the days when few women worked full-time in strength and conditioning or physiotherapy with high performance athletes. Times have changed, improvements made, and now many of CSIO’s new staff in these fields, are women with a staff gender ratio that is now equal.

With experience as a competitor, coach, educator and practitioner, Buttle also has expertise in managing sport injuries.

“Sport always empowered me and I was lucky to surround myself with great mentors,” said Buttle, involved in figure skating for some 25 years and now using her sport specialty experience in an important role working at CSIO.

“I see CSIO as being a place loaded with opportunities and I get to oversee aspects of health and wellness and work towards improving performance in provincially and nationally targeted athletes (who are) hoping to be in the Olympic and World Championship spotlight.”

Meghan Buttle at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Village where she was part of the Integrated Support Team for the 2018 Olympic Figure Skating Team. (Photo: Meghan Buttle)

-

 David Grossman is a multi award-winning communicator and storyteller with a distinguished career in Broadcasting, Journalism and Public Relations in Sport and Government Relations. In 2018, he was the recipient of Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Media Member of Distinction

Part 1: Stephanie Jameson and Martha McCabe

Part 2: Heather Logan-Sprenger and Erica Gavel

News Category: 

Latest News

  • Logos
    April 8, 2020
    SPORT MEDICINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE UPDATE : Within Canada the number of cases continues to rise across the country, but the rate of new cases appears to be slowing in most regions although at different rates. Despite this, areas or clusters of...
  • March 30, 2020
    The International Olympic Committee ( IOC ), the International Paralympic Committee ( IPC ), the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Government of Japan today agreed new dates for the Games of the XXXII...
  • March 24, 2020
    Note: The full audio recording of the media conference call on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 with COC President Tricia Smith and CEO and Secretary General David Shoemaker can be downloaded here . TORONTO / OTTAWA (March 24, 2020) – The Canadian Olympic...
  • March 16, 2020
    SPECIAL NOTICE – CSIO CLOSURES March 15th, 2020 Due to the COVID -19 pandemic, the senior leadership team at the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario ( CSIO ) in consultation with our Chief Medical Officer and supported by the Chair of the Board, has...
  • March 4, 2020
    By David Grossman Canadian Sport Institute Ontario believes in the power of sport and the importance of positive, inspiring role models and mentors at all levels of sport. This 5-part article series, written by award-winning sport journalist David...