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, February 23, 2018

- 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.


Friday, February 9, 2018

- act

An audience contemplates your skating in a slightly different fashion than how a judge scrutinizes your program. A judge watches your blades, how they cut the ice, if your spins precess, if you rotated too short to a landing.

The audience though absorbs your presentation: are you projecting work, fear, or enjoyment? Did you telegraph your jump? The audience tracks your center of gravity, your arm positions, and your facial expressions. An audience observes your thoughts.

One consequence of this is that the audience has entirely different expectations for you when you are skating a novelty program than for when you are skating technical.

We don't mind your slightly suppressed smile when you nail a tough jump, but otherwise those of us watching your technical program expect to see something sublimely reserved, stylishly graceful, and professionally polished.

A novelty skate however is another matter entirely. The audience would actually like you to move your head about and signal some emotion, perhaps four times in a novelty program. Don't overdo it and be a crass wiseass; rather share your emotions gently, matching them appropriately to the theme of your program. Be the cat, or the spy, or the film starlet your program deserves.

You know, out here in the audience, we love you.