Jul 31, 2010

My other life

We get from people what we need from them. In an odd way, friendships can be rich while still one-dimensional.

I don't have much knowledge of my close friends' business lives. I have a good idea of what they do, and we talk about it sometimes, but no real connection or interaction with that aspect of their lives. We've all experienced the intensity and intimacy of work friendships that then drop without a trace when one of you changes jobs. It is very difficult to maintain even the closest work friendship when you don't see the person every day any more.

Your relationship with your or your child's coach is the same way, narrowed further by the very specific need and limited contact. Very few coaches are able to make a full-time living at the profession; it's fascinating to find out what the coach's other lives are.

I'm an experienced arts manager, with 30 years experience in marketing and development (fundraising) for small and mid-sized organizations. At my rink, there's a coach who's a real estate agent, and a couple who are grade school teachers. Another is the head hostess at a high end restaurant, and another an actor who appears in "industrials" (the kinds of films you see at trade shows, for instance). There's a coach who is a physical therapist assistant, and another who is about to get a doctorate in speech therapy; still another was in divinity school. One of my favorites is the coach who owns several small apartment buildings, and is basically the "super" when he's not on the ice. The head synchro coach is a government lawyer, of all things, and the other one runs the back room at a major skating retailer.

Their hobby lives are equally fascinating. There's the dour, quiet coach who spends every vacation with his entire extended family in exotic locations (I'm talking sisters, kids, cousins, aunts, you name it). There's a really good soccer player, who plays on a pretty high-end amateur league. There's a national Synchro medalist. I garden (a lot). A couple of them are serious Triathlon and marathon athletes.

Remember the next time you think your coach isn't devoted enough to you, that coaches have lives outside work, just like you do. Sometimes (most of the time) they have lives outside of two jobs. Think about this before you pick up the phone to call them at 10:30 at night. And if there are any skating directors among you, think about this next time you have a problem to solve in your program.

You'd be amazed at what we know when we're off the ice.

1 comment:

  1. This is a neat post, Xan, and really shows just how much skill a figure skating club has. Up here it's more common that coaches coach full-time, which makes it tough for new coaches. One club has ice in the summer only from 8-11 a.m. M-F and during the school year from 3:15-4:15 and 4:30-5:30. That's pretty challenging for a new coach with a full-time job.