For many years now, Destiny Gibney has made it her mission to promote and improve the status of women’s judo in Saskatchewan. The former junior national champion has always put athletes at the centre of her priorities, in order to bring out the best in them.
As a young athlete, Gibney quickly decided to move into coaching, teaching her first classes at the age of fifteen. As the years went by, Destiny quietly drifted away from judo. However, she returned to her roots when her daughter Avery Gibney became interested in the sport her mother had practised.
“When I first started practising judo, I quickly realized that I wanted to coach. I later took a long break from the sport, until my daughter told me she wanted to try it. For me, it was only natural to start coaching again, so that I could share in the great moments she would experience,” said Destiny.
Destiny now feels as passionate about judo as ever, and she hopes to be able to make a difference in the lives of all the young athletes that cross her path.
“I coach at a local club, as well as at the provincial level in Saskatchewan. And recently, Judo Canada generously offered me the chance to join the national team in a development capacity. I’m super motivated by each of these challenges,” she said.
“I enjoy working with one athlete at a time and personalizing their development programs,” she added. “I like to brainstorm with each athlete on how to best use their strengths, so that they can become the best judoka possible. I want to give them the opportunities they need to flourish.”
For Gibney, being able to share in her daughter’s special moments is an invaluable experience. She is happy to see how far her daughter has come, and claims that Avery is a much better athlete than she ever was.
“It’s amazing to be a part of Avery’s experiences on the tatamis. I think I’ve become an even better coach because of her. It’s great to be able to follow her career so closely, and we have great chemistry. I’m very impressed with her and proud of her,” said Gibney, with emotion.
A recent highlight for the mother-daughter duo was participating in the Canada Games, which took place in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in early March. It was a homecoming of sorts for Destiny, who took part in the 1995 Canada Games in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
“I was really looking forward to making my Canada Games comeback! All joking aside, it was a great experience, not only for Avery, but for the entire Saskatchewan team. It was my first time coaching a team competition. Something new to add to my CV!” added Gibney.
Upon her return from the Canada Games, there was no time to rest for Gibney. She immediately began preparing for an all-women’s competition in Thuringia, Germany. It was another unforgettable experience for her.
“It was a bit surreal to be an assistant coach in Thuringia, because I never competed at such a high level myself. At this point, I think I’m learning as much from the athletes as they’re learning from me. Promoting female coaches is a great Judo Canada initiative, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”
In Thuringia, Gibney realized that her mission to promote women’s judo is indeed the right one for her. The coach from Saskatchewan plans to continue to work hard to help young girls understand that anything is possible.
“When they see women succeed, they understand that they can, too. I don’t necessarily think that all female athletes need female coaches, but having a female role model is really important. I will always support women’s judo in Canada. My mission won’t change. I want [girls] to know that judo is a very realistic option for them,” she concluded.