This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Friday, May 25, 2012

- care


I see quite the full spectrum of parental involvement at the rink; I suppose that's to be expected: after all some parents are just along for the ride. They nag their kid to hurry and pack the skate bag, drop their skater off at the rink, go run some errands, and then come back and sit in the ice lounge the last fifteen minutes of class. Afterwards they may congenially ask their kid how the lesson went.

My friends, this is not truly a skating parent.

A skate parent reminds his kid when she is packing to make sure that she brought an extra pair of tights. On the way to the rink the parent inquires when the last time his daughter had her skates sharpened.

The skate parent holds the doors open for his daughter as they enter the rink, wraps the scarf around his neck, and assumes his usual seat (with back support) down by center ice. He sets down his thermos of coffee and takes up his pen and video camera.

As his daughter skates he takes notes about her form and style. A skate parent presses his face up to the crack between the panes of Becker plexiglass to yell out how to improve a move. Occasionally he calls her over to a door opening to chat about something different and more expressive that his daughter can try with her arms.

During a break he accompanies her to the heated lounge and buys her a snack, and they chat about skating, school, or friends at the rink.

After practice the skate parent makes sure he thanks the coach, verifies that his daughter remembered her skate guards, and drives her out for a bite to eat. On the drive home the parent lets his daughter watch her practice on the video camera.

A skating parent is indeed crazy to spend this much attention on his daughter if it does no good. But whether or not it makes her a better skater is somewhat besides the point. A skating parent behaves this way because his daughter loves skating. And a skating parent loves his daughter.

10 comments:

  1. What a beautiful and moving post. Your daughter is lucky to have a true 'skate parent.' I'm an adult skater - wish I had a skate parent like you!

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    1. Hi Anon,

      Thanks for the complement and for reading my post. Yes I do feel there is an unmet need for "surrogate" skate parents; it would be nice if rinks had a mentor program where volunteers (ex skaters, coaches, parents) could sign up and be "selected" by an aspiring skater. I suppose there'd have to be some guidelines to prevent the mentors from infringing on a coach's territory.

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  2. Jeff, this post made me crazy! I pretty much disagree with the whole thing and wrote a response-- have at me!

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    1. I've got to be with you on this one, Xan. I read both yours and Jeff's posts. Jeff, I am sure you mean well, but my idea of being a good skating parent is more along Xan's lines. Yes, support your child and be there, but the child does need to take ownership of his or her sport, whatever that might be. Coddling does nothing except create prima donnas who then believe the world revolves around them. It's like having a dog without having to pick up the poop--if you truly love something, then be prepared to love even the unglamorous parts that come with it. And coaching from the sidelines? It is annoying to other skaters and most definitely is disrespectful to the coach, and DOES get you escorted out of the rink area. There's Good Parent, no need to explain. Then there's Stage Parent, enough said.

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    2. (Xan's concern is to avoid overbearing parents; her post with my reply is here).

      http://xan-boni.blogspot.com/2012/05/response.html

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    3. All relative. If you're talking about a 8, 9 or 10 year old girls working on elements, why is it wrong to assist them by telling them what they are doing wrong from the "backseat"? Would you rather have them practice bad habits over and over and over again? We all know how expensive the sport is, doubt anyone would want their dtrs/sons to undo all the corrections made by the coach. Of course, there is never a need to yell, berate and embarrass your child. Society provides a generous umbrella excuse for teens in "immaturity" for their wrong. kids we are talking about here are not even teenagers for the most part, they are 9,10,11 year olds. To say that these girls can practice on their own for 1 hour of FS session without some "guidance" is absurd. Parents all do it, some have stronger deliveries than others. It's part of raising talented athletes. Agree to disagree, but it is what it is when resources being thrown at this sport is so outrageous. Correlation is with resources; more money spent:more angry/overbearing parents. Again, it is what it is. I don't fault any of the parents for being psychotic. It's cool to show emotions, but don't embarrass your child in front of others. That's what Minivans are for. Thanks Jeff.

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    4. Great comment! I cross-posted it on Xan's site as well :-)

      -- Jeff

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    5. All good Jeff, thanks for cross-post. Have to chime in regards to Prima Donnas ... don't believe packing skates, breakfasts, snacks, or whatever the needs are for skating will result in prima donnas. Skaters with attitude on and off ice have bigger issues which likely are far removed from skating. Morning rituals to a skating parent is like a Pit Stop in Indy 500 Races; Indy Car/driver=skater, Tires=skates, fuel=breakfast/snax, pit crew=mom/dad, etc, etc. Unfortunately, unlike Indy 500, this crappy pit stop occurs as early as 4:30am. So excuse me for "coddling" the skater awake for the quick stop out the door in 10minutes. Fast and Furious? Hardly doubt indy car drivers are "prima donnas" b/c their "coddled" by the pit crew. In fact, drivers appreciate all the hard work done by the pit crew, in same way (if the child is raised in such way) the skater appreciates the parents. If the skater is committed to the art by sleeping when there's still daylight, waking when it's still dark, forgoing most sleepovers b/c other kids (the muggles=non-skaters) sleep and wake later, missing out on involvement with team sports,etc, etc, all the sacrifices they make, perhaps a little coddling is deserved. As i stated in previous post, it is what it is. Have to get out if don't like it. It's a brutally expensive, all consuming journey. Thanks for the forum Jeff. Peace.

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  3. Oh my goodness. Please tell me this is a joke. I honestly thought this post must be a joke about the stereotypical, overbearing skating parents that no one can stand!

    If your kid is older than 8 or 9, she should really be able to pack her own equipment and supplies and tell you when her skates need to be sharpened. Not giving her this responibility probably does more harm than good.

    Oh, and if you coached from the stands at my rink, you'd be kicked out of the stands to stop you from yelling onto the ice :) I honestly don't know how you get away with this. It's 'illegal' at every rink I've ever been to. Either put on some skates and coach if you're qualified or leave it to the professionals.

    As much as it probably pains you to think it, you won't always be there for your daughter. She's going to grow up someday. And she needs to be able to make that transition into adult life with the right tools and skills to take care of herself. If you don't even let her take care of something as small as remembering skating tights and dealing with the consequences if she doesn't, how is she going to do her own laundry, pay her own bills, etc., when she eventually moves out?

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  4. Hi Anon,

    This post originated in my head a few months ago while watching a public session (it may have been Pasadena). I saw a mom yell to her kid through a partition. Fist thought: now that's a skating parent. Second thought: hey I used to do that! And then all the subsequent thoughts of how a dedicated (or addicted, if you will) skating parent supports their kid. This seems most common when the kids are in that 7 to 11 year old range.

    When I visit nowadays at a typical freestyle I'd guess maybe half the kid's parents are this way. But the other half of the kids seem to be skating just fine by themselves too.

    God only knows how rancorous parents can become at the mere suggestion of "how" to raise a kid (smile). Xan's blog has most of the parenting related responses and it's been a great discussion.

    By the way to clarify this "shouting" business... if a rink's dashers are open (not topped with glass or plexiglass partitions) then you don't shout. Rather you wiggle with your index finger to summon your daughter to the sideboard, and chat with her there.

    Shouting is only for communicating through the partition. You still have to figure out in those instances how to grab your daughter's attention in the first place LOL.

    With Love, Jeff

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