After four months on the job, Rachel Whitton is feeling pretty comfortable with her position as Manager of the Campbellford District Racquet and Curling Club (CDCRC). She took the reins in December after job shadowing for a month with retiring Manager Eunice Stapley, who held the position for 13 years.
“The job is really cool,” says Rachel with a smile. “I’m learning a lot.” When the job posting first appeared, she wasn’t at all sure that she wanted to apply despite a long-standing relationship with the club. She had just returned to her home town of Campbellford after a one-year post-education sabbatical in New Zealand and was, at the time, just “crashing at a friend’s place”. She purchased a home in Campbellford after deciding that the time was right to make a big commitment.
Rachel began curling in grade 7, largely motivated by the fact that curling was one of the few activities that her very active sister was not engaged in. The youth curling program was huge in those days, she says, and there was endless opportunity to play. She and her team-mates, skip Katherine Nicholas, Tess Brown and Holly Curle, have played together on and off over the years, bringing in substitute players as required to fill in when one of them was out of the area to attend school. They’ve played together in provincial championships and are still a team to this day.
Despite her youth, Rachel already has an interesting Resume to her credit. A “joiner” from an early age, she served on Student Council and the Youth Advisory Committee at her school. She took some culinary arts courses at George Brown College and subsequently completed a diploma in Hotel & Restaurant Management at Algonquin College in Ottawa. She completed her placement at the high-end Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper, Alberta, where she found the exposure to management of a five-star facility to be invaluable. Rachel had previously worked on her baking apprenticeship at Campbellford’s Dooher’s Bakery, where she was employed “forever” in her younger days, taking on progressively more responsible roles.
The year she spent in New Zealand was memorable. She and a friend embarked on the adventure after completing their schooling and settled in Milford Sound, a rain forest location within Fiordland National Park on South Island. Often named one of the world’s top travel destinations due to its breathtaking scenery, Milford Sound was dubbed the “eighth wonder of the world” by Rudyard Kipling. The nearest town was more than two hours away by car, she remembers, and the closest urban centre, Queenstown, a five hour drive. Rachel worked as a cook on a 10-day on, 4-day off schedule which allowed the friends to travel and experience the country on their extended weekends. “We met the coolest people from all over the world,” she says. To round out that experience, they moved on to the north end of the continent where they lived in tents for months and picked kiwi fruit for a living.
In her role as Manager, Rachel reports to two boards. The non-profit CDCRC owns the building, she explains, and the Meyers Sports Board rents the facility and oversees the curling schedule and other activities held there. “There is so much expertise on the boards,” Rachel says. “They know what’s already been done, what works well and what doesn’t.”
Rachel had no intention of coming to her new desk with grand notions of changing the operation to make her mark. There was no need for that, she explains, since the club runs well. She is looking forward to experiencing all seasons in her role to complete her understanding of operations.
Her primary goals include increasing revenues through rentals in all seasons. The lounge and off-season arena areas are ideal for both large and small gatherings. Rachel is excited about hosting a gala Wedding Show in September 2019, but other small-scale initiatives have recently taken hold as well. A new hourly rental rate has been established to allow smaller events, like birthday or anniversary parties, to rent the Lounge for a few hours rather than a full day. Wine glasses and dishes are now available for rent as well, a service most recently employed by the Incredible Edibles Annual Movie Night & Dinner Fundraiser at the Aron Theatre in February.
The club boasts over 400 members, Rachel says. Citing no need for membership drives, her focus is on membership retention and to ensure that the members are happy with the experiences and facilities available to them. Restoration of the club’s squash courts has recently been completed thanks to a Trillium Foundation grant.
Class offerings have grown in recent years and are open to the public for a drop-in fee as well as to members who attend as part of their membership fee. The club offers popular Kettlebell, Yoga and Boot Camp programs, and a Trillium grant last year allowed the CDCRC to purchase five Spin bikes which have proven to be an excellent addition to their roster. Rachel is excited about the club’s newest offering, a Meditation Class with Spiritual Teacher Tineke Smit. The seven-week program will focus on one of the seven chakras, or energy centres, each week.
Rachel is serving as a Director on the Trent Hills Chamber of Commerce board this year for the first time, taking office in March of this year. “I’ve always followed the Chamber,’ she says. “I like to be involved.”
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