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.
Monday, August 17, 2015
So you've got your nerves and the butterflies in your stomach. Your skates are sharp, your hair is bunned and ribboned, your makeup is sparkly, your performance dress is ready. You do your pre-event warm up, your adrenaline is pumping, and you step out onto the ice as they announce your name. Your heart is in your throat but you breathe deeply, relax, smile, and pose.
Now: is it a competition, or is it a show? I ask this peculiar quandary at this point because, up to here, everything is the same between the two. But after this point everything is different. Why? What is it about a routine, even with the same movements for its foundation, that makes it turn out so differently if you are skating for a show rather than for a competition?
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
After you get past the beginning group lessons and the initial years of a private coach, once you are hanging around for the off-ice ballet class or a freestyle or two, you will start to make contact with the rink's regulars.
You'll get to know the staff, the gals that work the register, the other coaches, and the folks in the skate shop. You'll start to chat superficially with the other regular skate parents. You'll even have a couple friendly words with the Zamboni driver and the rink's manager. And then after another year or so, after you are a regular at the freestyles and the local competitions (once your kid has shown serious dedication) you will finally get a chance to meet the rink's old codgers.
This most interesting part of being a skate parent may happen while you are sitting around in the heated snack bar, or while you are leaning on the boards watching the skaters. It will start with an observation perhaps, "your daughter has a nice spiral." Or a comment about your own dedication, "it's good to see a parent devoted to their kids love of a sport."
The old codgers are two generations past the young skaters and they still skate with grace and an easy jump or two. Not only are most of them former coaches, most of them had national fame when they were young competitors. They have amazing stories of both their personal history and how things used to be in figure skating. Listen, respect, and learn from the old codgers; at the rink, it is the best friendship you can cultivate.