Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame
Congratulations to Brenda Shields Hennigar, inductee to the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame (2022)!
Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame:
A native Victorian, Brenda was raised in a family that has a long and celebrated history in Canadian speed skating. Father Jim Shields was a National Short Track Champion and older brother David was a National Long Track Champion and National Team member competing for Canada at the world level, so it was no surprise that Brenda had a passion for speed skating.
Living in Victoria had its challenges for a long track speed skater. Without a 400m oval to train on nor the capability to train six days a week, Brenda quickly learned to make the most of her two weekly ice sessions on the hockey-sized ice surface at Archie Browning arena, using short track speed skates while training alongside her brother Dave and teammate Wilson Louie, both of whom were Canadian champions. She usually arrived at a competition only the day before, allowing just enough time to switch to long track skates for a quick practice and adjustment to the often -20C temperatures and winds before racing began.
By the time Brenda was 14, she was leaving home in October for training in Lake Placid, NY or West Allis, Wisconsin before embarking on a competition schedule that lasted through March each season. With those new training opportunities, it wasn’t long before podium finishes became Canadian and North American championships.
In 1979, Brenda won her first two Canadian Short Track Single Distance Championships in the 400m and 3000m and first North American Long Track Championship in the 1500m. In 1980 as a Junior, Brenda won two more Canadian Single Distance Championships in the 500m and 800m as well as her first Canadian All Round Long Track Championship, and was selected to the National Long Track Team.
Brenda successfully defended her All Round Canadian Long Track Championship in 1981, adding two more Canadian Single Distance Championships in the 1000m and 400m. She continued to represent Canada at international long track competitions, using a pair of borrowed skates after breaking a blade in the first race of the North American Championships that year!
After several years away from competition and to fulfill a promise to her late father/coach, Brenda returned to skate in her last Canadian Long Track Competition. She won Gold in the 500m, 800m, 1000m and 1500m and claimed the All Round Canadian Long Track Championship for the third time in her career.
By the time Brenda finished her competitive career, she had been on the podium at Canadian Championships 26 times, and had won 11 Canadian Single Distance Championships, three Canadian Long Track All Round Championships plus a North American Championship and had seven international podium finishes.
In the years since her last race, Brenda’s passion for speed skating has remained an important part of her life. Forty years later, Brenda is still actively coaching speed skating. She is the founder and Head Coach at the Peninsula Speed Skating Club and is actively involved with Speed Skating Canada.