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 22, 2015

- trophy

It's likely just wood and plastic with an engraved metal plate, or perhaps you walked away with a round piece of bronze or chromed nickel hanging from a silk ribbon. After a few years of competing you'll gather together a fine collection of awards and photos. This paraphernalia says that you're a real trooper, somebody who can stick with your practice and achieve results. They are a validation of your efforts.

After the excitement wears off though, for most of their lives your trophies collect dust on a shelf or in a closet. After the years pass and you move from place to place, your trophies follow along and refresh your memories every time you pack or unpack them. Most of the time though they lurk quietly ignored.

The true worth of a trophy however lies neither in its materials, its novelty, nor even in the accomplishment it represents. Even if you feel a bit shy about showing off your awards take good care of your trophies; as you age you will find their true value: they connect you back to the memories of the moment. Partly they make you feel nostalgic. Partly they remind you of how capable you have been to specific efforts: they validate that you aren't a slouch and can achieve results of dedicated focus. Mostly they tie you to your intentional greatness.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

- all that time

A serious skate parent spends five or six hours a week at the rink. What is a parent supposed to do with all that time? A lot gets determined, naturally, by the cultural norms of the parents of the other kids.

In a competition environment the general rule is to be attentive and polite. It's frowned upon if you leave the rink only to reappear for your own kid's ice-time; you really should support the other skaters with your attention. Even so after an hour or two of polite applause it can all blend into skating jello.

Many parents bring along a book or magazine to read discreetly. Knitting is also a popular pastime. Most rinks now have WiFi and folks will log in to read news, browse Facebook, or even get some work or studying done.

I think a big part of a parent's success is coming up with that time killing activity that is exactly right for the situation. You want to be productive and not bored, but at the same time your chosen stimulation should allow you to keep one eye on the ice, so when you sense something important is going to happen you can quickly switch your attention to the action.

One thing that is quite remarkable (and gets even more so at the highest levels) is the amount of downtime that families have while staying around the hotel near the competition site. In the case of a world class match the family is there for a whole week. A lot of the time is spent sharing pride with your children, but then there is time to look around town, and a lot of time to just sit.