High hopes


(To view our November/December 2016 issue of ClubWEST online, click here.)

Grimsby’s Maggie Weatherdon plans to be a principal dancer with a European dance company one day ~ And she is putting in the work to achieve that goal!

By Mike Williscraft

Visions of flitting around Europe dance in the heads of countless youth, but few envision doing so while the principal dancer of a ballet company.

Maggie Weatherdon of Grimsby is that rare one, however, and she just may have the talent to support that lofty dream.

The 14-year-old Grimsby Secondary School student will be putting her best foot forward later this month when she performs as “Marie”, the lead part in her dance school, Neglia Ballet Artists, production of The Nutcracker.

maggie-weatherdonThe performance is a collaboration of Neglia, The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Shea’s Performing Arts Center. It runs Nov. 26-27.

Just 14, Maggie is already a veteran of 11 years of training. Of course her formative years included very basic gymnastics and figure skating, she quickly came to understand dance was in here genes.

Born in North Carolina, Maggie’s mother, Michelle, was a dance instructor.

“She was in my class but by the age of five we had to find some place else for her to go because she was trying to teach the class,” laughed Michelle.

It was right around that time the Weatherdons packed up and moved back to Grimsby.

Maggie briefly attended St. John Catholic Elementary School before switching to Central Public School’s French immersion program. She also attended Lakeview Public before heading to GSS for Grade 9.

With dance, she continued her training in Burlington and St. Catharines maintaining her well-rounded interest which included a lot of gymnastics and various dance disciplines.

About two years ago, it was time to choose, however.

Staying the course with a general dance style would mean career aspirations of working on a cruise ship, for example, performing the same routines over and over.

Going the acrobatics route was a strong possibility angling for something along the lines of being a Cirque du Soleil performer, but career longevity was a key issue there.

For Maggie, ballet filled the bill.


See the full article in our online edition.

Lord and lady of the manor also Citizens of The Year


(To view our May/June 2017 issue of ClubWEST online, click here.)

Barry & Linda Coutts earn Grimsby Chamber of Commerce award

By Mike Williscraft

Some people build a legacy, others choose to rebuild a legacy.

Barry and Linda Coutts fall into the latter category.

The Grimsby couple, who have invested 40 years of time, money and effort into restoring Nelles Manor to its original glory have gained notoriety they certainly do not seek but is deserved nonetheless.

Soon they will have another honour to add to their mantel – Grimsby & District Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of The Year Award.

“To receive Citizen of the Year is awesome! We know so many people who give of themselves, their talents, their time and money as they can, We can only accept with knowing we also honour those people too who care about filling their life with constructive efforts, however large or small,” said Barry.

“We can only hope in our case that the accolades we receive help to make people aware of giving, as we have done in many ways over the years and in our specific case embrace this old house and all it stands for.”

The couple initially came to check out the home after seeing a real estate ad in the Globe & Mail. The rest, as they say, is history. Lots of history.

After taking possession of the 1788 home, which had as many as eight apartments at one time, the Coutts have spent 45-plus years manicuring every possible detail to bring the property all the way back to its original design.

The reason?

“The house needs to go on,” said Linda of the 7,000 sq ft building constructed by Col. Robert Nelles over a 10-year period.

“There were a lot of other people who came to this area and did really well, but their story has not been maintained and their ancestors did not keep track of all the documentation to help tell their story. The Nelles family did.”

And what a story.


For the complete article, click here for Club West Online.

New horizons


(To view our March/April 2017 issue of ClubWEST online, click here.)

Tonya Verbeek ~ Canada’s most-decorated Olympic wrestler of all time ~ now sets her sights on coaching excellence leading Team Canada

By Mike Williscraft

Teaching was always something Tonya Verbeek could see herself doing.

The 39-year-old Beamsville native will get an opportunity to do just that in an area that is her passion thanks to Wrestling Canada Lutte naming her an international coach for Team Canada.

“There was some restructuring at Wrestling Canada and the previous coach in the high-performance division was shifted to a new post, which made room for me,” said Verbeek, who retired from competition after her silver medal performance at the London Olympics in 2012.

“Teaching has always been part of my plan. I went back to help with Brock University’s program and did some high school substitute teaching for the District School Board of Niagara. I still have the passion for wrestling and want to pass that on.”

When the appointment was released early in February, Verbeek wasted little time jumping in with both feet.

She was off to Paris, France on tour with the national team. Then it was off to Sweden at the end of the month.

These competitions, which also include training camps, acclimatize team members to travel and a tournament regimen. That discipline is one of the keys Verbeek hopes to instill in her wrestling pupils.

“I consider myself a firm coach, but I want them to trust their hearts. I was in competition right up to just four years ago, so I think I have a very good understanding of what they are going through and dealing with. I can put myself in their shoes,” said Verbeek.

“My strength was as a technical wrestler and those technical elements are what I stress. It is very important. Fundamentals, that is the biggest part of my philosophy.”

And in wrestling in particular, when the entire match is a test of wills, the mental side is also crucial.


For the complete article, click here for Club West Online.