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Training Like an Irish Dancer: Breagh Dunn and the Alberta Sport Development Centre – Athlete Enhancement Program

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Located in the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre, the Alberta Sport Development Centre – Northeast (ASDC-NE) at Keyano College is a highlight of sports excellence in the community. The Centre is dedicated to enhancing the development of elite and emerging athletes. Your ASDC provides a holistic training environment for athletes, as well as courses and resources for athletes’ network of supports, including coaches, mentors and parents.

Examples of the exemplary training offered here in Fort McMurray by the ASDC is shown through the success of its own athletes. The Athlete Enhancement Program at ASDC is intended to provide emerging athletes an opportunity to receive non-technical support to improve their performance. This is a unique opportunity that not all athletes across Canada receive therefore, all athletes accepted must have the desire to learn and grow as an athlete and person.

This year one athlete danced and trained her way to the top and will compete on the word stage. Breagh Dunn has been an Irish dancer for almost nine years. When she was merely three-years-old she attended an Irish Dance open house and the rest was history. Breagh has enhanced her training techniques through the help of ASDC for the past two years.

“My favourite part about training with the ASDC at Keyano College is that even though the trainers push me to train my hardest, they still find ways to make my training sessions enjoyable and fun,” explains Breagh. “I also like how supportive all the trainers are. They always want me to do my best at competitions. I like that they specialize my workout sessions to exercises that will best benefit my sport and I appreciate that they take the time to alter the circuit if I am injured or unable to do something.”

Most recently Breagh traveled to Kelowna, BC, to compete at the Western Canadian Irish Dance Championships where she placed 7th in her age group, securing her spot at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in 2016. Breagh will also attend the North American Irish Dance Championships taking place in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.

“My future goals in my sport of Irish Dance are to place in the Top 3 in Western Canada, to recall at the World Irish Dance Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in March of 2016 and to place in the Top 20 dancers at the North American Championships to be held in Orlando, Florida in July of 2016.  I hope to continue to get stronger through training and practice to become the best dancer I can be,” says Breagh.

Breagh trains almost every day to compete at her level of athleticism. She has regular practices with her team and coach Chanel Parsons, once a month the head instructor of the Brady Academy of Irish Dance, Gloria Brady, travels from Edmonton to practice with Breagh for 6-9 hours through the course of a weekend, she completes leg and core strengthening activities each day, and she also attends dance camps in Edmonton when preparing for a major competition. On top of her regular dance training, Breagh also trains with the ASDC’s Julie Herd twice a week to increase her strength, agility and endurance.

“The training has enhanced my skills in Irish Dancing by helping to improve my stamina, which helps me to finish my dances strong. Stamina is very important because if you fade at the end of your dance, you won’t perform your steps as well, which can cost you marks from the judges. It has also improved my core strength which is key to holding jumps in the air and executing my steps properly,” she says.

Breagh explains that to train like an Irish Dancer, you not only have to be physically in shape, but you have to be mentally strong as well. You have to put in the time and effort and practice daily. All those who train this well-conditioned dancer, from ASDC staff to dancing instructors, describe her as one of the most dedicated athletes they know.

“We are so proud to have Breagh in this program,” says Charity Wiley, ASDC-NE Coordinator. “Underneath all the hair, makeup and sparkly dresses, she is an athlete with the heart of a lion.  She leaves nothing inside when she steps into the gym and on the floor to complete.  She is the definition of an athlete.”

ASDC’s programs and services offer exclusive learning opportunities through sport science initiatives and mentorship from experts in the fields of strength and conditioning, sports nutrition and mental skills. With an acute awareness of their bodies, the ability to manage their minds and a solid understanding of the science of sport, athletes and coaches are able to reach their optimal potential, compete at higher levels and excel through the national ranks. 

For more information on the Alberta Sport Development Centre – Northeast located at Keyano College visit: