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Beatrice Noble Memorial Speedskating Scholarship

Recognizing young speed skaters living with

a chronic medical condition

2020 Scholarship Recipients

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Joseph Couillard


DOB - 05/22/2008


Club - Kelowna Speed Skating Club (BC, CA)


Residence - Kelowna, BC, CA


Chronic Medical Conditions - Autism, Remission of Eosiniphilic Granuloma LCH of the Spine

Joseph was diagnosed with a rare Eosiniphilic Granuloma LCH tumor mass on his spine at 14 months. During the course of his chemo treatment it was determined that 3 of Joseph's vertabrae were extremely damaged and deteriorated. Without immediate structural spinal support surgery he would never walk again. Initially at that time it was not known how physically active he could ever become, but has subsequently never let anything stop him from achieving his goals, He has since exceeded all physical prognosis by immeasurable leaps and bounds. Joseph has been speed skating since (2015) he was 7 years old and was initially registered in a CanSkate program to learn how to skate for strength, balance and agility following his spinal surgery rehab. At his first lesson wearing snow pants and a ski helmet he pointed to a senior speed skater in a club suit and said "I want that."  Seeing Joseph’s desire for speed and his competitiveness, the CanSkate coach suggested that he try short track, and for Joseph it was love at first skate. We ordered his first suit that night.


Following an autism diagnosis in elementary school Joseph continues to work very hard every day learning to navigate his world, while coping with sensory and social challenges. He has never once allowed his diagnosis to define the person he's becoming, instead using his Autism and surgery more as a superpower than obstacle. Being on the ice skating fast allows Joseph the freedom to expel energy and the pressures of the daily world around him. Under the patient guidance and direction from his amazing coach Nancy and fellow skaters, he continues to learn and grow in a sport that he loves. From starting out at club meets to traveling around to regional meets and now competing at inter-provincial levels, Joseph is still learning what it takes to be a competitor.  Never allowing his diagnosis to hold him back Joseph is a very active outdoor enthusiast who loves parkour, roller blading, scootering, biking, skiing and speed skating.

Joseph sums up what speed skating means to him best, in his words - “I love speed skating because I can go fast and try to be faster every time. I really like to be first off the line too. 


Joseph's family truly believe that finding a sport he so loves so much is tantamount to his physical and mental well being, and will continue to champion his goals and pursuits for all the years to come.

Being one of three recipients this year of the Beatrice Noble Memorial Speedskating Scholarship is not only an incredible recognition of his accomplishments to date but is an amazing honor and motivator to further pursue the joy and confidence he’s found. It is with great thanks that Joseph and his family graciously accept this scholarship.

For more information on Autism please go to:

Autism Canada  Home - Autism Canada
Autism BC  Providing Autism Support and Resources

For more information on Eosiniphilic Granuloma LCH of the Spine please go to:

Cancer & Blood Disorders (  and  Orthopaedics (

For information on and to support the Ronald McDonald House BC please go to: RMHC Homepage | Ronald McDonald House Charities (

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Samuel Hurtubise


DOB - 3/30/2001

DDN - Le 30 mars 2001


Club - Gloucester Concordes Speed Skating Club (Ottawa, CA)

           Club de patinage de vitesse des Concordes de Gloucester (Ottawa, CA)


Residence / Résidence - Gatineau, Québec, CA

Chronic Medical Condition - Bicuspid Aortic Valve (congenital heart condition)

Condition Médicale Chronique - Valve aortique bicuspide (anomalie congénitale du cœur)

Samuel, better known as Sam, has been a member of the Gloucester Concordes Speed Skating Club since 2008. He first gained an interest in speed skating when he attended as a spectator a short track competition where his cousin was racing. The following season, Sam’s parents registered him with the Concordes. From the first time he touched the ice on speed skates he was hooked. He loved going fast. During the first few years of his speed skating career, Sam competed in short track regional competitions until he was introduced to long track. Falls and potential impacts on the ice, boards and/or with other skaters in short track racing were becoming too risky with his heart condition. As a result, Sam slowly started to do more long track and took it more seriously. Approximately 5-6 years ago, he made the decision to stop skating short track as he was getting faster, taller, and stronger. These factors heightened the risks associated with his medical condition.


Moving exclusively to long track speed skating allowed him to focus on his training, and he ultimately developed a passion for that discipline. He took advantage of cross-training with various sports to stay fit and become stronger even though he was dealing with reduced ice time. Visiting the school gym became part of his routine where he worked on strength and performed plenty of dry-land imitations. He also practiced other sports such as ultimate frisbee, volleyball, road cycling and various track and field events where he continued to strengthen his cardiovascular fitness and the explosive nature found in all these sports. This perfect combination of training, along with the knowledge and experience of amazing coaches, have allowed Sam to compete over the last 5 years at many provincial and national competitions such as long track Canada Cups as well as numerous events in Quebec City and Lake Placid. Sam was invited by the Ontario Speed Skating Association to the 2019 Canada winter games trials in Milwaukee.


Sam was diagnosed with a Bicuspid Aortic Valve at the age of two. He has had cardiac follow-up with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) to monitor his condition since then. His parents and cardiologist believe that speed skating is what allowed Sam to avoid undergoing surgery. From the beginning, his cardiologist indicated that he could potentially require surgery at the age of 4 and then with every growth spurts as his physique would change. Now standing at 6’3” and 195lbs, no surgeries have been required. Sam has surpassed the standards and beaten the probabilities and we believe it is all thanks to cardiovascular training with speed skating.

For Sam, this medical condition was a limitation and held him back at first. He would be out of breath much faster compared to his friends. They were faster and could run or skate further. However, under the recommendations of his cardiologist, he persevered. This quickly turned things around for him, and he began surpassing the physical abilities of those with normal hearts. His medical condition went from being a limitation to a way of motivating him to work harder, to be faster and stronger. Speed skating has also taught him to be a great leader and a role model. He hopes to show other kids and adults that they should not view their condition or disability as a limitation but rather as a means to motivate themselves. Sam believes that this approach can be applied in any sport as long as you stay active, and more importantly, to life in general.


For more information on bicuspid aortic valve and other heart conditions/diseases, please visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada or the American Heart Association.

Samuel, mieux connu sous Sam, est membre du Club de patinage de vitesse des Concordes de Gloucester depuis 2008. Il a démontré ses premiers intérêts pour le patinage de vitesse lorsqu’il a assisté en tant que spectateur à une compétition de patinage de vitesse sur courte piste à laquelle participait une de ses cousines. La saison suivante, les parents de Sam l’ont inscrit avec les Concordes. Il a été accroché dès qu’il a touché la glace pour la première fois avec des patins de vitesse. Il adorait aller vite. Au cours des premières années de sa carrière en patinage de vitesse, Sam compétitionnait sur courte piste au niveau régional jusqu’à ce qu’il soit initié à la longue piste. Les chutes et les impacts potentiels sur la glace, les bandes et/ou avec d’autres patineurs sur courte piste devenaient trop risqués en raison de sa maladie cardiaque. Par conséquent, Sam a graduellement fait la transition vers la longue piste et l’a pris de plus en plus au sérieux. Il y a environ 5 à 6 ans, il a pris la décision de mettre fin à la courte piste. Samuel devenait de plus en plus rapide, plus grand et plus fort. Tous ces facteurs augmentaient les risques associés à sa condition médicale.


Le passage exclusivement au patinage de vitesse sur longue piste lui a permis de se concentrer sur son entraînement, et il a ultimement développé une passion pour cette discipline. Il a profité de l'entraînement croisé avec divers sports pour rester en forme et devenir plus fort même s'il faisait face à un temps de glace réduit. La visite du gymnase de l'école est devenue une partie intégrale de sa routine où il a travaillé sur sa force et a exécuté beaucoup d'imitations hors glace. Il a également pratiqué d'autres sports tels que le Ultimate frisbee, le volleyball, le cyclisme sur route et diverses épreuves d'athlétisme où il a continué à renforcer sa forme cardiovasculaire et la nature explosive de tous ces sports. Cette combinaison parfaite d'entraînement, accompagné des connaissances et de l'expérience d'entraîneurs incroyables, ont permis à Sam de compétitionner au cours des 5 dernières années à de nombreuses compétitions provinciales et nationales telles que les Coupes Canada sur longue piste ainsi que de nombreux événements à Québec et à Lake Placid. Sam a été invité par l'Association de patinage de vitesse de l'Ontario aux essais des Jeux d'hiver du Canada 2019 à Milwaukee.


Sam a reçu le diagnostic indiquant qu’il avait une valve aortique bicuspide à l’âge de 2 ans. Depuis, il a été suivi en cardiologie au Centre hospitalier pour enfants de l’est de l’Ontario (CHEO) pour surveiller son état. Ses parents et son cardiologue croient que le patinage de vitesse est ce qui a permis à Sam d’éviter de subir une intervention chirurgicale. Dès le début, son cardiologue avait indiqué qu’il pourrait éventuellement nécessiter une chirurgie à l’âge de 4 ans, puis à chaque poussée de croissance, car son physique changerait. Aujourd’hui, mesurant 6 pieds 3 pouces et faisant 195lb, aucune intervention chirurgicale n’a été requise. Sam a dépassé les normes et a battu les probabilités et nous croyons que c’est grâce à l’entraînement cardiovasculaire avec le patinage de vitesse.


Pour Sam, cette condition médicale représentait une limitation et l’a retenu au début. Il s’essoufflait beaucoup plus rapidement que ses amis. Ils étaient plus rapides et pouvaient courir ou patiner plus loin. Cependant, sous les recommandations de son cardiologue, il a persévéré. Cela a rapidement changé les choses pour lui et il a commencé à surpasser les capacités physiques de ceux avec un cœur normal. Son état de santé est passé d’une limitation à un moyen de le motiver à travailler plus dur, à être plus rapide et plus fort. Le patinage de vitesse lui a également appris à être un grand leader et un modèle. Il espère montrer aux enfants et adultes qu’ils ne doivent pas considérer leur état ou leur handicap comme une limitation mais plutôt comme un moyen de se motiver. Sam pense que cette approche peut être appliquée dans n’importe quel sport tant que vous restez actif et, plus important encore, dans la vie en général.


Pour de plus amples renseignements sur la valve aortique bicuspide et d’autres conditions/maladies du cœur, veuillez visiter la Fondation des maladies du cœur et de l’AVC du Canada ou le American Heart Association

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Sarah Hannon


DOB - 4/13/2002


Club - Hamilton Speed Skating Club (ON, CA)


Residence - Ancaster, Ontario, CA


Chronic Medical Conditions - , Hypotonia, Ligament laxity, Hypothyroidism

Sarah played house league hockey and soccer for 7 years, but it was the switch to speed skating in 2017 that really developed her identity as an athlete. Hamilton Speed Skating Club’s inclusive training motivates and challenges Sarah to do her very best while enjoying the camaraderie of the team. Sarah competes in the Special Olympics division at regional meets and has earned medals in every race at both the provincial and national levels. Her current goal is to skate for Team Canada at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Kazan, Russia 2022.

Sarah has hypotonia (low muscle tone), ligamentous laxity (resulting in hyper flexible joints) and hypothyroidism, which are all common conditions for individuals with Down syndrome. She works out regularly to build and maintain muscle strength, coordination, and muscular endurance. Building stronger muscles helps to compensate for the lack of integrity in her joints and improves joint stability. Sarah tires easily, which is a combined result of working harder than most people to accomplish the same result and the fatigue which is a common symptom of an under active thyroid.

Sarah’s desire to perform well on the ice has motivated her to change her eating habits and improve her fitness levels, which in turn have boosted her self-esteem and energy level. In addition to high school, her part-time job and volunteering, she speed skates twice each week, swims and works out with her personal trainer. Sarah’s love of speed skating has translated into better health, more energy, a more active lifestyle, and a whole new world of possibilities.

For more information on thyroid disease, please go to Thyroid Foundation of Canada’s website.

For more information on hypotonia and ligamentous laxity, please go to Ligamentous Laxity 101 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s website.

For more information on Down syndrome, please go to Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s website or National Down Syndrome Society’s website.





A note from Scholarship Administrator - Alan Jay

On behalf of the Board and membership of the BSC I would like to thank our selection committee for choosing our three 2020 recipients. I know that all of the applicants were deserving of selection, and that the committee's decision was not an easy one.

Nathalie Rodrigue-Hassleback  - Nathalie is a level 1 USS certified coach and currently serves on the Buffalo Speedskating Club (BSC) board.  In addition Nathalie holds several certifications and degrees in Sports and Exercise Sciences, Figure Skating, Group Fitness, Nutrition, and Yoga. An accomplished nationally competitive figure skater, Nathalie started speedskating in 2014. Along with her son Gabriel, Nathalie now competes in Short Track, proudly representing the BSC.

Tim Howell -  Tim is a Speed Skating Canada (SSC) Level 3 Track Steward, and a SSC Level 1 Coach. Tim, his wife Sandra (SSC level 2 Referee) , his daughter Arielle (SSC level 1 Coach)  and his son Raphael have been skating and racing with the Milton Speed Skating Club since 2011. In addition to coaching and working the ice for the Milton club, Tim has let his considerable track steward and coaching talents to speed skating clubs, competitions and camps throughout the US and Canada.

Michelle Lippa, BSN, RN. - Michelle works as a medical ICU nurse at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. Additionally Michelle has served as the onsite Medical Support for the Buffalo Short Track Speedskating Championships. Michelle's son Sean, and husband Doug, skate with the Buffalo Speedskating Club (BSC).


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