University of Calgary

All in the family

For speed skaters Jamie, Jessica and Sara Gregg, there’s nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry to get the competitive juices flowing. 

Jamie and Jessica Gregg.

Jamie and Jessica Gregg.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Gregg family is that they don’t realize how remarkable they really are. For Jamie, 23, Jessica, 20, and Sarah Gregg, 19, living together, training as speed skaters for the Olympics and going to school seems, well, pretty normal.

The siblings, who moved to Calgary from their hometown of Edmonton to train at the Olympic Oval, have been balancing sports, school and life since they were little kids. “Ever since I was young, I have been used to this busy schedule so prioritizing school and sports is second nature,” says Jamie, a long-track speed skater. “Our parents have always emphasized the importance of a strong education and so I always make sure to make time for both school and sports.”

A typical day for the three student athletes includes waking up at 6 a.m., arriving at the oval at 7:30 a.m. to practice for two hours. Next they head off to school, eat a quick lunch and start their on-land training session for a few hours. After arriving home for the evening, they relax, eat dinner, work on homework and then head to bed to wake up early the next day.

All of the Gregg family, including their brother Ryan, 22, started taking skating classes at the tender age of four. Their parents—former Edmonton Oiler Randy Gregg and former Olympic speed skater Kathy Gregg—wanted their children to experience their passion for skating but they also encouraged the kids to participate in other sports such as softball, baseball, volleyball, handball, track and field, hockey and ringette.

“Over years of coaching experience, I have observed some parents force a certain sport on their child, which can add a lot of external pressure and it may not be the activity their child is passionate about,” says Kathy, who coached Jamie, Jessica and Sarah on the ice before the three moved to Calgary.

Sarah credits her parents’ supportive nature and their belief that “it’s all about having fun and not just winning” for her keen love for the long track. “My parents are really supportive; they don’t care if we win or lose. They just want us to have fun,” says Sarah, who is training for the 2014 Olympics in Russia. “Not everyone gets that from their parents—they struggle with the sport because of their parents.”

Jamie, a short-track skater, and Jessica are both training for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Jamie is also working towards a bachelor’s degree in biological science at
U of C. Like his father, he hopes to eventually attend medical school. Sarah and Jessica plan on obtaining their bachelor’s degrees in kinesiology as part-time students, and Sarah hopes to go into nursing after that.

“Having a family full of competitive athletes has helped me a lot because they all push me to do my best and understand what it takes to be in a competitive sport like speed skating,” says Jessica. “Having my brother and sister in the same sport as me really motivates me and pushes me to get better and better.”

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