Coach Spotlight: Dana Ferguson finds her calling as wheelchair curling coach

Canadian Paralympic Committee

March 06, 2023

Curling player and coach now leading Canada’s mixed doubles team at worlds


EDMONTON – Dana Ferguson says her lifetime dedication to curling both as a player and a coach has directed her to her true calling as the head coach of Canada’s mixed doubles team in wheelchair curling.

Mixed doubles is fairly new to the sport. It made its Olympic debut at the 2018 Games in PyeongChang (Canada won gold), and the wheelchair version got its first major stage exposure at the 2021 world championships. The discipline has been provisionally accepted onto the 2026 Paralympic Winter Games program.

“The wheelchair version is different from able-bodied mixed doubles,” said Ferguson, 36, from her office at the University of Alberta where she works as a development coach and camps program coordinator.

“I really like it as a training tool as well for the team game. It’s about precision and a lot about tolerance. You can get a lot of success from wheelchair mixed doubles. It gives the player a lot of freedom to make high precise shots.”

Ferguson says the international curling community is still learning about the game.

“It’s an opportunity to take a step up on other countries and explore new strategies and new ways to do things that have never been done before.”

Ferguson enjoyed a very successful career as a player. She was the second on Chelsey Carey’s Alberta squad which won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in 2019. In addition, she was second at the 2014 and 2015 Scotties and third in 2021.

Through all that playing success, Ferguson was also building a coaching career that has now led her in an unexpected but satisfying direction.

She filled in the coaching role at the first mixed doubles worlds and was later officially named by Curling Canada as head coach.

“I was instantly blown away by the sport,” said Ferguson about her first experience with wheelchair curling. “I had no knowledge of wheelchair curling and I started asking a hundred questions. I started to realize it’s a little bit different but not that much different.”

Current wheelchair curling national team coach Mick Lizmore was the first to encourage Ferguson to get involved in the sport. Both taught a curling course at the University of Alberta. Ferguson has also worked under the wing of Lizmore’s predecessor Wayne Kiel.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind but some of the best times so far,” said Ferguson, whose coaching experience dates back to 2005 when she was running camps for children and teenagers. “That got me to the point where I realized coaching is what I want to be doing, specifically in wheelchair curling.”

Ferguson provided some tips to coaches entering the Para world.

“I was very nervous going in, because I had no experience in Para sport,” she said. “The players are experts in the sport, but they want to learn and be better. So never assume and don’t act like you know everything.

“I approach all of my coaching as observation first. What do they need from me and how can I offer support.”

Quality coaching is an integral part of sport and building podium performances. Coach Spotlight presented by Petro-Canada™ highlights some of Canada’s top coaches who have made an impact in Paralympic sport.  

Coach Spotlight Dana Ferguson

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