A previously ubiquitous presence will be missing from the fields, stands and courts of Northern Secondary School this year.
For the past two years whenever I would attend any sporting event involving the Red Knights, I’d always see teacher-coach Wendy Luck either in the stands cheering her school on or leading her charges into battle.
But after 10 years of teaching, Luck has opted for a change of scenery. Her new post is not too distant, as she takes on the role of instructional leader for health and phys ed at the board for grades 7 to 12.
It was Northern alumna Erica Fearnall who broke the news to me this summer, and so it seemed only right to offer a send-off for Luck in Toronto Today for her hard work at Northern SS.
Though Luck admitted she didn’t think her work was newsworthy.
“At first I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me because it’s just me’, I do what I do because I love it and not because I’m going to get a pat on the back,” she said. “(But) thank you.”
On the first day of school of 2011–12, Luck chatted with me about her years as a member of the Mount Pleasant and Eglinton school’s roundtable.
She shared her experiences, like coaching the senior girls volleyball team to the South Region finals in 2001, which they won. Her other highlights include beating Eastern Commerce in senior girls basketball to qualify for OFSAA in 2009 and her first trip to OFSAA with the girls soccer team.
“The girls there needed a coach, so I just stepped up to the plate because I had coaching skills but no soccer (skills),” she said. “It was an interesting season, but I learned so much.”
It was outside her comfort zone of volleyball, basketball and ultimate Frisbee where she made a connection with Leah Smith, the captain of the soccer team who encouraged Luck to take them on as coach.
“I still keep in contact with her. It’s just a relationship that has turned into a bit of a friendship and support now,” Luck said. “She took a chance on me and helped coach the team as well.”
Another student spiked into her memory is Annie Lau. The volleyball player is hearing impaired.
“To this day, it’s one of the things that made me a better person and a better coach as well,” she said. “She’s come so far and she now plays on Canada’s deaf volleyball team.”
As for mentors of her own, colleagues Terri-Lynn Hedgcock, Monica Bennett and Karen McIntyre inspired the squire to become a full-fledged knight.
“They were the type of ladies that taught you how to earn the respect in the classroom and be organized, responsible but I think more importantly all three of them supported me in whatever I chose to do,” Luck said. “If I ever needed help, they were the first people I could ask here.”
Due to conflict of interest policy, the former Northern teacher won’t be able take the helm of a school team. She says steering the wheel of an outside club team would lack the teacher-coach fusion she was used to as a Red Knight.
“I thought a little about that but after several years of coaching in the school I’m not sure with regards to philosophy if it would be a good fit with my teacher-coach philosophy,” she said.
While she tests the waters with the school board, she’ll continue to play ultimate Frisbee with the Toronto Ultimate Club, and she plans to stay in touch with her colleagues.
And by no means does she rule out a return to the classroom, as she cannot give up coaching for long.
“In two years, if I miss the coaching, which I know I’m going to … I’ll definitely have to make some adjustments and more than likely come back to it,” she said.