Hawker, Andreev join Callaghan, Meissner in Florida

Skaters follow coach to the Sunshine State

Canada's Lesley Hawker is one of the skaters following Richard Callaghan to Florida.
Canada's Lesley Hawker is one of the skaters following Richard Callaghan to Florida. (Getty Images)


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By Laurie Nealin, special to
(02/13/2008) - Canadian national team member Lesley Hawker, who had trained for three years in Michigan with Richard Callaghan, has decided to follow him to his new coaching site in Florida so she can continue to pursue her 2010 Olympic dream under his direction.

"I have a very supportive husband who will be possibly coming [with me] to go to school, doing graduate studies in Florida next fall," said Hawker, 26, twice a Canadian bronze medalist, who finished off the podium at the 2008 Canadian Championships despite delivering the second-best free skate.

Hawker, who married in 2006, has not yet lived together with husband Jamie Doherty full-time, because she trained in Michigan, and he studied molecular cell biology in Toronto.

"We both put on a pretty brave face, but it's tough living apart. I don't like it. I'm really fortunate that he's as wonderful as he is. I never met anyone so selfless, so supportive," Hawker said.

Callaghan recently announced his move to the Fort Lauderdale area, while former U.S. and world champion Kimberly Meissner announced he would be her new coach. She, too, will move to the Incredible Ice facility to prepare for the 2008 World Championships.

"I think it's awesome," Hawker said of her new training mate's decision. "I think Mr. Callaghan is an incredible coach, so I personally think she made an awesome choice."

Hawker had planned to make the world team this season but instead is considering her unexpected mini-vacation "a blessing in disguise." She will now start an intense, two-year training program in order to earn a spot on the 2010 Olympic team.

Callaghan said he had been contemplating the move south for about a year and a half. His longtime student, Todd Eldredge, a former U.S. and world champion and veteran touring professional, has also signed a contract with the rink, which will now be his official training site. Eldredge will coach there as well, once he and wife Meagan can sell their house in Michigan.

Callaghan said Meissner arrived in Florida the week of Feb. 4th and "seems happy and motivated."

"Kimmie just needs five weeks of good training, good repetition. After working with her a couple of days, I don't really see anything that she needs to change. I just want to give her factual reasons to get her confidence back up," Callaghan said.

Fedor Andreev, who returned to the Canadian championships this season after a three-year hiatus, said he also intends to continue with coach Callaghan, but he has not yet decided if that will be on a commuting-to-Florida basis, or if he will relocate to the Sunshine State.

"I will still always be affiliated with Mr. Callaghan," said Andreev, who settled for eighth place at nationals last month. "He's been such a huge part of my life over the last while. He's been a huge influence on my personal life, my skating, and he's just such a phenomenal coach, so he's always going to be a part of my skating."

Andreev said he is anxious to get new programs on the go for next season. "I think my mom is finally going to start giving me some lessons. Hopefully, she has a bit of time," Andreev said of his mother, Marina Zoueva, who coaches many of North America's top ice dancers with Igor Shpilband in Canton, Michigan.

"I think Tessa [Virtue] will definitely be a part of polishing everything off and possibly helping out with the in-between stuff, the connecting steps," Andreev said of Canada's ice dancing champion, who provided choreography help to him in his comeback season.