Support4Sport program has helped fuel the desires, broaden the dreams and encourage the visions of athletes across the Province.

Ken Bagnell, President
Candian Sport Centre Atlantic

Jill Knowles

Like the glide of a swan
Community Program

The best figure skaters deliver seamless performances. Graceful, powerful, intentioned. But before these masterful displays and sequined costumes is a journey that begins with a single stroke and a team of supportive people.

“I skated as a child and teenager, coached as a young adult and volunteered at club, provincial and national levels, until I accepted my current position,” she explains.

When Jill was offered the executive director position for Skate Canada Nova Scotia in 2003, she couldn’t have been happier. For Jill, being awarded the coveted position was a dream come true. So even though figure skating programs were consistently underfunded in the province and the volunteer base was over worked, she was confident that with hard work and determination, things could be turned around.

Jill quickly mastered the fine art of stretching a dollar.

“We had to be very careful with the money we had, and we rotated opportunities and which regions of the province they were held in,” says Jill.

The specific programs available throughout Nova Scotia varied from region to region, but there was one program in particular that Jill wished could be offered province wide.

The SK8 Smart program offered day-long sessions for up to 40 youth skaters from different clubs within the region. Each session included a series of skating workshops, motivational speakers and a seminar on off-ice fitness routines and nutrition practices. Jill thought it was important to include both the coaches from the region and the parents, so they were also encouraged to participate in all aspects of the day and have their own questions answered. This session gave the coaches an opportunity to discuss the importance of long-term athlete development, while the parents were given resource materials and were asked to share any concerns/questions they may have had.

The SK8 Smart program was developed to encourage young skaters and their parents to become more involved in figure skating but due to limited funding, only a handful of clubs within the province could afford to offer the workshop.

When Jill learned about the assistance available through the Support4Sport program, she knew her problems were solved. The Support4Sport funding committee happily partnered with Skate Canada Nova Scotia and the SK8 Smart program was finally realized.

“The funding has allowed us to offer more programs to all ages throughout the province for skaters, officials and volunteers. Which in turn helps to educate the skating community and provide better opportunities for all skaters in Nova Scotia,” says Jill.

For Jill, receiving financial assistance from Support4Sport gave her the opportunity to focus on her many other work objectives. The figure skating fanatic is committed to continuously improving the skating programs available, even if it means working long hours.

Clearly Jill loves her job, because when people ask what she does for a living, her response is always the same: “I have the privilege of being the executive director for Skate Canada Nova Scotia."

As much as she loves figure skating, it’s really the people that she fell in love with.

“Every skater brings a different story,” she explains. “Whether it’s the beginner getting up off the ice for the first time, or the seasoned skater landing their first triple jump. Maybe its watching people volunteer their time from 6 a.m. to midnight without a complaint, or raising money for a pair of skates for the Romanian champion, because the skates he’d used during the world championships had giant holes in them. There are lots of magical moments.”

Jill is a figure skating veteran, and she’s been in the game her whole life. She understands that becoming a great skater requires a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication and love for each stroke of the journey.


Halifax, NS
44° 38' 31.9632" N, 63° 31' 52.2804" W


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