MOOSE JAW — Joan Buckmaster has always been an athlete and although she’s turning 84 in September she has no plans to slow down when it comes to curling, tennis, and coaching.
Buckmaster has had an enduring influence on the community through her passion for teaching sports. She was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020 at the Business Women of Moose Jaw PRISM awards gala.
“I just kind of got into (coaching tennis) by accident,” Buckmaster laughed, “because my grandson, when he was six, he really got interested in tennis. I was playing, but I wanted to be able to help him correctly, so I took an instructor’s course.
“From there, it just grew. I’ve taken quite a few coaching courses now, so hopefully I know what I’m doing.”
Last year, when Morgan Waller of Drinkwater was named Player of the Year by the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLAIC), she said she had started playing at six years old, in Moose Jaw, with Buckmaster. Waller was playing for the women’s tennis team at Ferris State University in Michigan and helped lead her team to a conference victory.
Buckmaster is a teacher by profession. She taught elementary, worked on the student support team, and was a reading counselor for the school board for a time.
She hails from a homestead near Yorkton. Her father was a WWI veteran who received land in return for his service.
“He wanted to buy a motorcycle, so he joined the army reserve at 17 to save up some money,” she explained. “Within a year, he was in the trenches, because they took the reserves first.”
Buckmaster also coached the Saskatchewan tennis team at the Summer Games for several years and is happy to say that they medaled a few times.
Ironically, curling is her first love.
“We lived on a farm,” she said. “We had skating and curling, and I didn’t have access to skating lessons. But anybody can go out and learn to curl, you know?”
Buckmaster curled competitively in high school, then in the ladies’ leagues, then seniors, then masters. She still curls at least twice a week — sometimes three.
“I’ve also played tennis competitively,” she laughed, “and I’ve been much more fortunate in tennis than curling, because curling in Saskatchewan, of course, it’s a lot tougher!”
She has won her bracket provincially multiple times. Singles, mixed doubles, and ladies doubles — at one point or another over the years, she’s won them all.
She plays tennis almost every day and coaches private and group lessons.
“I take Saturday off,” Buckmaster said, “and sometimes I don’t play Sunday.”
There’s no particular secret to her being able to stay active into her 80s, she said, chalking it up to good genes and enjoyment of sport.
“I’m grateful to still be able to play and coach, and I’m grateful people still want my advice and help.”
Buckmaster has three children, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
She turns 84 on Sept. 19.
Learn more about tennis in Moose Jaw on the Tennis Club website at tennismoosejaw2.wixsite.com/home/about_us.