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Best coach . . . Sport Southland Eastern Southland community sport advisor Gemma O'Neill (left) presents Ice Sport Southland coach Simone Thornett with her Gore District Community Award for Sport South land Community Coach of the Year. PHOTO: KENA ROJAS-AMADOR

Simone Thornett did not expect to be recognised for just doing her job.

In fact, she did not even have a speech prepared for when she won community coach of the year at the Gore District Community Awards.

“It was just really good to be picked and it was a bit of a shock to win,” Miss Thornett said.

“I thought all of us other coaches are just doing the work for the town.”

The Ice Sports Southland coach beat Hokonui Aquatics coach Mariano Nani and basketball coach Peter Howes for the award.

Miss Thornett has seen figure skating flourish under her reign.

She has been the coach for almost four years and she taught more than 40 people a week.

She taught 30 Kiwi Skaters, 10 adult skaters and 20 private and competitive skaters, she said.

People travelled from as far as Alexandra to be treated to her expertise.

When she arrived, Gore only had a handful of competitive skaters – now it boasts 20.

“It’s raised the profile of the sport – it’s been great.”

This season she introduced a programme titled “Additional Needs”, for 20 skaters with disabilities.

“The kids are loving it. It’s out the window,” she said.

“It’s been so rewarding working with them.”

Her career with Ice Sports Southland had many highlights but hosting camps from international ice skaters was at the top of the list.

Olympic coach Igor Tchiniaev, of Russia, would host a camp next year.

“Just seeing the kids getting better through these opportunities has been fantastic.”

Hosting the New Zealand Ice Figure Skating Championships in Gore last month was also a highlight.

Miss Thornett, originally from England, began coaching about nine years ago back home.

“I’ve always skated and then I became interested in the coaching side, developing the kids and helping them draw it out of them,” she said.

“The place where I skated offered me some coaching training and it was a great opportunity to be involved.”

The level 1 accredited coach would look to sit her level 2 next year, which would allow her to coach internationally.

She was incredibly grateful to the Gore community for recognising her and her craft.

“Thank you so much to the parents and volunteers of the sport in Southland.”