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From the slopes to the Hall of Fame, local ski official carves out her own path

People of Collingwood: Patty Federer, 2020 inductee to the Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame
2022-04-28 Federer JO-001
Patty Federer is one of the 2020 Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame inductees.

With pandemic restrictions easing, the 2020 Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame inductees will finally be able to accept their accolades in person on May 14.

For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood we spoke with one of the individual inductees, Patty Federer, 70, who will be honoured for her contributions to golfing and Special Olympic and Paralympic skiing.

Q: For how long have you lived in Collingwood?

A: I’m originally from Clarksburg. I went to high school in Thornbury. I did Grade 12 and 13 up in Meaford.

I left after high school, like most kids. I was part of the first graduating class in business from Humber College in Toronto.

I moved back to Collingwood in 1978.

My ancestors moved here in 1845.

Q: Did you pursue a career in business?

A: You don’t have enough time to hear about all my careers. (laughs)

When I started, I was a market analyst at a brokerage firm. I married a rock-and-roll musician and started a family back in the ’70s. When my son was two, my marriage broke up and that’s when I moved back.

I thought this was a good place to raise a family, and I had siblings who lived in the area as a support system.

I worked for an insurance company for a while in their office.

After that, I ended up working for Simcoe County’s social services for 31 years.

Q: Part of why you’re being inducted into the Collingwood Hall of Fame is because of your work with skiing and Special Olympics/Paralympics. How did you get involved in that?

A: Sports has been a big part of my life all the way through.

When I came back to town in 1978, in order to ski free for myself and my son, I worked as race crew at Osler (Bluff Ski Club). A lot of local kids do that.

I ended up becoming a Level 3 FIS official. I worked a lot of races up at Osler.

Q: Why was volunteering with ski sports important to you?

A: I love the winter.

As a high school student, a lot of us volunteered at Georgian Peaks. It’s been part of my life for a long time and my childhood.

It’s fun to be inside the ropes. Ski racing is very exciting to watch and be involved in. I love organizing.

Collingwood hosted the world championship in 1997. I ran the alpine for that. That was my first involvement with the Special Olympics.

Q: You’re the only female alpine official at the World Winter Games for the past 23 years. Can you talk about your experiences being the only woman in this role?

A: All skiing is a boy’s club. It always has been. Skiing usually involves people with money because it’s an expensive sport. I grew up with three brothers.

I’m used to being competitive with men.

When I got to skiing, it never crossed my mind that I couldn’t do anything they could because, why not?

I showed up, worked hard, and I guess, did a pretty good job.

Q: Do you still participate in skiing and Paralympic endeavours?

A: I haven’t done any Paralympic stuff for a while.

Working with Breaking Down Barriers and a few others, we developed a sledge hockey team locally. They trained in Stayner because we couldn’t get any ice time in Collingwood.

That team was rolled into another in Elmvale. That was about eight years ago, and I haven’t been as active since then.

I’m an honorary member for life with the Special Olympics, and I’m usually the alpine official who runs races for them. I did that for the last races we ran with them in 2019 at Blue Mountain.

Then COVID-19 hit.

I’m part of a team that was asked by Special Olympics Ontario to create training videos to put online, which I’m also working on right now as director and scriptwriter. We’re using athletes in it to demonstrate.

One thing I love about Special Olympics is, that there’s a spot for everyone. It doesn’t matter your ability level. Some of the training videos explain what the different levels of skiing are. Hopefully, they’ll come out this coming winter. They’ll go all across Ontario, possibly Canada and worldwide.

I also did a Zoom presentation in March on officiating for Special Olympics.

Q: What do you like to do outside of skiing in terms of hobbies?

A: I’m a golfer. I volunteered at the Canadian Open Golf Tournament for 25 years. I took up painting during COVID. I just finished a painting for one of my granddaughters. I read a lot. I currently have three books on the go.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like people in Collingwood to know about you?

A: I’m passionate that everybody should be given the opportunity to be the best they can be. That’s one of the reasons I’m passionate about Special Olympics. It includes everybody and gender doesn’t matter.

As a female Canadian, I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve got to do a lot of firsts.

I got to break down barriers. That’s one of the things of which I’m most proud.

For our feature People of Collingwood, we’ll be speaking with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature will run on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email jessica@villagemedia.ca.