A pioneer in wheelchair curling internationally, coach Joe Rea was the mastermind behind Canada’s golden years in the sport between 2006 and 2014 and a significant figure in the sport’s development and growth.
Curling has been a part of Rea’s life for decades. He started participating in the sport when he was 14 and played competitively for over 20 years. His entry into high-level national competition as a coach was in 1993 when he guided his provincial junior team to a bronze medal at the Canadian Junior Championships. He also coached Team BC to a silver medal at his first Canadian Championships in 2004.
In 2003, Rea first got involved with wheelchair curling and in 2005 he was Canada’s team leader at the world championships. He was handed the coaching reigns in 2006, the same year the sport made its Paralympic Games debut. At the Torino 2006 Games, he was part of history as he led Canada to the first-ever wheelchair curling gold medal at the Paralympics.
That launched a series of successes still not duplicated in the sport. Canada won three world championships gold medals in 2009, 2011, and 2013. The nation also defended its Paralympic crown twice, winning gold at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 as well.
Rea retired as head coach of the Canadian national team with three Paralympic gold medals in his trophy case.
As a coach, Rea believes in collaboration and compassion, and he worked hard to problem solve and work with his athletes to find the best individual solutions for them to perform their best. He also put a focus on becoming a better coach himself and coach development overall, developing new techniques and drills to advance the sport.
Rea is also known for his great technical aptitude, which has been a great asset not only in his curling career in a sport where precision and tactics are a must to succeed, but in his professional career as an electrical/instrument team leader for a forest products company (Canfor Northwood Pulp).
An avid sportsman and boater, Rea has collected five Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Awards in his career. At home in Prince George, the 61-year-old and his wife Colleen have a combined six children and two grandchildren.
Not mentioned on the scoresheets is that Rea is also a great humanitarian.
Over the years, he and his wife have provided a safe and loving home for over 28 foster children for varying lengths of time. With a belief that every child needs a break, there are many youths in their community who have benefitted from their generosity, kindness, and caring attitude.