Orillia Teen Selected for Elite Training Program

Orillia Teen Selected for Elite Training Program
Posted on 05/04/2020

Article written by Nathan Taylor with Orillia Matters

An Orillia teen at the top of Ontario’s standings is packing up his skates and moving to Alberta to take part in a prestigious training program.

Speed skater Sam Galloway, 17, has been invited to take part in the Elite Athlete Pathway Program at the Olympic Oval in Calgary. The training is supposed to begin in July. So far, it has not been called off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Galloway, a Grade 11 student at Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School, is currently ranked No. 1 provincially in the open men’s category for speed skating. An impressive showing in Calgary last year earned him a trip to nationals in Sherbrooke, Que., in February.

Going into the Calgary event, he had a personal best time of two minutes and 24 seconds in the 1,500-metre. While in Cowtown, he wrangled another milestone, setting a new personal best of 2:19.38.

“Five seconds is a huge margin to improve by,” Galloway said. “It took a lot of practising and hard work on distance and endurance. It requires a lot of cardio strength.”

That result is what got him a ticket to represent Ontario at nationals in Vancouver in March. However, the event was cancelled due to the pandemic. Galloway learned of the cancellation a week before it was to begin.

“It was disappointing because I was going into the competition ranked 15th out of the top 60 skaters in Canada,” he said.

The silver lining was his invitation to the Elite Athlete Pathway Program.

“It’s amazing. All the work I’ve put in has definitely contributed to it,” he said. “This is really the logical next step for me to continue to pursue higher rankings. It makes me feel like my hard work has been recognized.”

After much thought, Galloway and his parents decided he would move to Calgary and finish high school there.

“Taking advantage of the amazing training program they have out there, I think I’ll really benefit from being around people who have the same focus as me,” he said.

He has lived in Orillia all his life and acknowledged being away from friends, family and familiar settings “will be hard to adapt to.”

“If I focus and I train hard, I think I can reach my full potential while I’m out there,” he said.

If he decides to pursue post-secondary education in Calgary, he will be able to continue training as part of the program after high school.

Galloway already has an impressive resumé on the track, including a gold medal at the Orillia 2018 Ontario Winter Games, the title of 2019 Ontario long track champion and a gold at the 2020 Ontario Elite Short Track Championships.

He has also represented Ontario on the national stage four times and was the recipient of funding from the province’s Quest for Gold program to assist him with equipment, travel, training and other costs.

It all began in 2010, when Galloway strapped on speed skates for the first time during a demonstration as part of the grand opening of Rotary Place.

“I tried them on after one of my hockey games and I really liked it,” he recalled. “The speed was what really captivated me. It was exhilarating, even as a third-grader, moving that fast.”

Since then, he has trained with both the Barrie and Newmarket speed-skating clubs. Barrie is currently his home club. Speed skating is not offered in Orillia, which does not have a proper facility for the sport.

While many athletes who excel at their respective sports have Olympic aspirations, Galloway isn’t getting ahead of himself. He has only one goal at the moment: “I’m just really excited to see how far I can go.”

Read the article online on the Orillia Matters website.