It was always just natural that Shawna Pearman spent much of her free time coaching or volunteering.
After a life full of athletics growing up, where both her parents volunteered in all avenues of sport, she just had an inclination to do the same when she had kids of her own.
She coached speed skating in Manitoba in the 1980s and still helps out with the Red Deer Central Lions Speed Skating Club, albeit in a lesser capacity these days.
For all her volunteer pursuits, from high school sports to everything in the Central Alberta speed skating world, Pearman is being honoured this week as the 2019 City of Red Deer Lifetime Sports Achievement Award recipient.
“When I look back, I didn’t do it for the recognition or anything. I do it because I feel it’s part of my role. I feel I have some expertise, so I feel like that’s my way of giving back to the community,” said the Ponoka native.
“For me, it was something I enjoyed doing and I wanted to give back and for sure when I started having kids, it just felt like it was the right thing for me to do, having a sport background.”
Pearman said the volunteer bug really caught hold back in 1988, when she was thrust into a role around the speed skating oval at the Calgary Olympics.
That turned into a gig as the head coach of the Red Deer Central Lions Speed Skating Club until recently, which earned her several honours along the way, including Speed Skating Canada Coach of the Year in 2013 and the Alberta Amateur Speed Skating Association Volunteer of the year in 2015-16.
While those accolades are nice, it’s seeing the smiles on the athletes’ faces or watching them hit a personal best that has always been the most satisfying and the reason she keeps going back.
“I do really enjoy it. I enjoy the kids that give back to you because they give so much back,” she said.
“Their commitment and their work ethic, that they come out and they want to work hard and then seeing the athletes improve in whatever they’re doing, even in Special Olympics, you see the athletes accomplish after months of hard work — just the smiles on their faces when they accomplish something, that for me is the biggest thing.”
Pearman was also instrumental in running the long track speed skating event at the 2019 Canada Winter Games. She said that memory will stand out for a long time, and she was proud of the way the club and all the volunteers handled the experience.
“It was a great event and it was great for our sport and for our club,” she said.
“I think we ran a great event and you do have that sense of pride. The Canada Games provided so much opportunity and I think that’s important to have opportunities for everyone within our community.”
Not only has Pearman influenced several generations of speed skaters throughout the region, but the passion for helping others in sport has also been passed on to two of her daughters, in particular, Tess and Maddison, who both help coach in their respective sports.
Pearman is still actively involved in volunteering, helping out with the speed skating club and with high school athletes. She also most recently helped coach a pair of Red Deer Special Olympic speed skaters to medals at the Special Olympics national winter games in Thunder Bay, Ont.
“It’s just something that we need to learn from. More and more people need to see that. They’re just so proud of their accomplishments,” Pearman said.