Every builder of a community sports environment starts out as an athlete and then decides to give back to the community by helping others find their passion by getting involved in the sport in coaching or administrating, or maybe even in the media. Carol-Angela Orchard did all three and the gymnastics community is better for it at the local, national, and international level.
As an athlete Carol-Angela began in gymnastics at the age of 13 at the Burlington YMCA – now the Ron Edwards YMCA – and then trained at M.M. Robinson High School as a member of the Burlington Gymnastics Club (BGC), when the club had to set up and take down all the apparatus for every training session. Carol-Angela went on to become the Ontario Open A category All-Round Champion, winning gold medals on the balance beam and floor exercise, silver on the uneven bars and bronze on the vault.
While competing, Carol Angela showed a penchant and passion for teaching and began her coaching career with the BGC in the recreation program to offset her own fees for training. Her love for gymnastics and helping others led her to a career in coaching that lasted more than 35 years and has impacted gymnastics on a world-wide basis.
Carol-Angela coached at four Olympic Games, 15 World Championships, four Pan American Games, two European Championships and three Commonwealth Games. She coached with the Canadian national program for 32 years. She assisted various national teams around the world as a specialist in beam and floor exercise, being a specialist coach with national teams in Germany, Guatemala, Great Britain, and of course, Canada. Her efforts allowed her athletes to reach a level of success on the global stage with World Championship and World Cup medals. A highlight was in 2006 when she was the personal coach of Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, who won the bronze medal on beam at the World Championships. A first ever medal for Canada at the Worlds.
Carol-Angela’s contribution to gymnastics will live on in a tangible way as she created five world original elements that are now named to honour those athletes who first performed them.
Over and above her coaching legacy, Carol-Angela also contributed to the media side of the sport at the highest level. She began this path just as she had everything else in her journey – serving as announcer or guest speaker at Gymnastics Ontario functions. Eventually she became a very highly sought-after speaker and presenter at World Gymnastics in cities around the world up until the 2019 World Championships. She took the experience and thrived as an analyst with both the CBC and TSN, announcing at major events – including the Olympics. In addition, Carol-Angela made remarkable contributions to the International Gymnastics Federation Coaching Education program.
As a lecturer, guest coach, and presenter Carol-Angela demonstrated not only her knowledge and expertise, she conveyed it in a way that exhibited her positive attitude towards her love of gymnastics.
Carol-Angela is known as a true motivator as she inspires the audience to search for positive solutions. A personal philosophy she lives by is – “Dream big, work hard, and be passionate about everything you do.”
Such an attitude has the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame proud to induct Carol-Angela Orchard into the Builder’s category.