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Terra Davidson garners coach of the year honours

The athlete-driven mindset that moves Gymnastics Ontario Coach of the Year Terra Davidson to action, each and every day, is a natural one for the Competitive Director & Women's Head Coach of the New Sudbury gymnastics facility.

Talking about her notable coaching skill-set, however, is not nearly as natural for the native of Petawawa.

"I eat and sleep gymnastics; pretty much everything is about gymnastics for me," offered the ultra friendly young woman, somewhat reluctantly. "I think I try and keep every individual athlete's best interest in mind."

"I really try and mentor the other coaches in my programming to individualize their training, helping them to inspire their athletes and provide the best gymnastics experience that they deserve."

"I think I do well in being personable," added Davidson, informed only recently of the provincial honour that has also recognized, in the past, the likes of Kathy Hubbard, Denis Vachon and David Ross.

"I'm not afraid to get in there, talking individually with the coaches, the athletes. There's more to gymnastics than just skills, finding ways to have fun in the gym and strike a balance."

If Davidson squirms uncomfortably when asked about the attributes that have garnered her such respect among her peer group, GymZone General Manager Alex Larocque harbours no such reservations.

"She is driven by passion - passion for sport and passion for the kids," said Larocque. "We get to see first-hand the time that she puts in, making individual plans for every single athlete, putting together programs that are best for them."

Even in the year of the pandemic, Davidson's love of coaching shines through, constantly on the lookout for ways in which she can refine her craft. "I don't think I've ever met a better student of learning, a student of the sport," said Larocque.

"Terra is constantly taking courses, immersing herself with all of the new things, and not just the physical skills."

"I've learned a lot, especially in the higher level of gymnastics," said Davidson, who is expecting to receive her Coach of the Year plaque by mail, with the traditional November AGM gala out of the question due to Covid-19.

"There was a lot of learning with Kayla (Folz) and a lot of her skills, as there really wasn't anybody in the north doing that type of gymnastics. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity, through the GymZone, to work with some awesome coaches in Ontario."

"You learn from the coaches that you work with," she added, now with more than a decade under her belt in Sudbury, since making the move from Montreal. "These younger coaches that we have, coming in with new ideas and this great energy. I continue to grow through them."

That said, the current environment is not without concern. Davidson knows full well that current health protocols, aimed for the safety of one and all, must be balanced against the mental well-being of her athletes.

"I'm trying to learn more about sport psychology," she explained. "I want to make sure that not just me, but our entire staff are educated in that department. It's about learning to help our athletes deal with the emotions of worrying about getting their skills back, dealing with the uncertainty of a competitive season."

This focus on the youngsters under her tutelage is exactly why she excels as a coach, in the minds of those closest to her. "In thinking back to all of the wonderful coaches that I had, and I did have a lot of wonderful coaches, the ones that stand out to me were the ones who put in the time and effort to build that individual relationship with every athlete," said Larocque.

"They are so invested in your success. That's the way it is with Terra; it's not just about their gymnastics development. It's about them as a person, as a student. That's what makes a really great coach."

A coach of the year, as it turns out, in the case of Terra Davidson.

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