David Gilday has been around the sport of speedskating for many years and over that time, he’s helped countless young skaters learn the finer points of the sport.
You may even know of his children, Jill and Michael Gilday, both members of the national team program at various points of their lives. Michael even went to the 2014 Winter Olympics.
While his kids have had great careers in the sport, there is one honour in which the old man has one up in.
Speed Skating Canada announced its Hall of Fame class for 2020 this past Friday with David Gilday being named to the builders category, an honour he said was one which was a surprise.
“You know, I always focused on the volunteer aspect of things, especially with the kids,” he said. “I’ve had so much fun working with them.”
As the story goes with Michael Gilday, he got involved in speedskating after his friend, Luke Coedy, got involved. That also extended into the parental side of things as Coedy’s dad asked David Gilday to join in and help out with the Yellowknife Speed Skating Club in the early 1990s.
That’s where it all began.
“I was sitting in the stands at the old Gerry Murphy Arena and Luke’s dad asked me to help,” said Gilday. “Back then, the club had amazing numbers; we had to have had over 200 kids at the time. They would divide the kids up and have them work in a circle.”
Gilday would eventually become the club’s head coach and was responsible for putting together practice plans for all of the volunteer coaches.
“I always had enough parents out on the ice to work with the kids,” he said. “I would go over the plan with them and then skate around to check on everyone.”
His coaching work would see him travel around the NWT to communities such as Inuvik, Hay River, Fort Smith and Fort Simpson along with stops in Nunavut. Gilday would then join the officiating ranks as he’s looked after several meets in the NWT as well as other major competitions, most recently at the 2018 Arctic Winter Games.
“As an official, you get to watch those kids just skate their hearts out and it’s amazing to watch,” said Gilday.
On the administrative side, Gilday played a major role in organizing the 2008 Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife and also served on Speed Skating Canada’s board of directors on two separate occasions. He also helped to create the Youth Development Fund, a program Speed Skating Canada used to develop the sport around the country, and was part of the team which authored the Long-Term Participant Athlete Development (LTPAD) Program used by Speed Skating Canada.
While he’s grateful for all of the opportunities speedskating has given him, Gilday said he’s just one of many volunteers who helps keep the sport moving.
“Sport is such a huge system and there are people who have made some monster contributions,” he said. “I don’t look at this as making me better than anyone else but it’s a great recognition for the volunteers.”