Aug 26, 2010

Okay, parents, take a deep breath

For the top skaters in the Novice, Junior and Senior levels, the competitive season has already started, with USFS "Champs Camp"*, and the first Junior Grand Prix competition, in France. *(A longer article on last year's camp can be found here.)

For the wannabes, and I use the term affectionately, the excitement and the tension is just building, as we move into the final stretch before Regionals. Medalists from selected competitions last year have already qualified for Nationals (if they're skating in the same level and division) and don't need to go through Regionals and Sectionals, but pretty much everyone else has two competitions-- Regionals in October and Sectionals in November. The last of the serious non-qualifying competitions is done, the costumes are hanging in the closet (even if the bill isn't quite paid), and the choreography is solid and getting its final tweaks.

For parents, the only thing left to do is freak out.

Seriously skating parents, let's not this year. Take the pledge:

1. I pledge not to fire the coach.
I understand that factors other than my coach's utter incompetence, which somehow slipped my notice until my child missed final round by .135, can affect the scoring.

2. I pledge not to hire a new choreographer without telling anyone, like, for instance, the coach, the current choreographer, or the skater.
I understand that the selection of the choreographer is, first, not my job, and second, already done.

3. I pledge not to complain about how much this is costing, and to pay my bills on time.
I did my homework, and set my budget, including both the panic contingency and the mad money account that I'm hiding from my husband so he doesn't find out how much this is costing.

4. I pledge not to decide that we can go on vacation for the last 10 days of September. After all, homeschooling makes this sort of thing so flexible! I understand that the coach has a very specific training schedule to get ready for Regionals, and that it doesn't include a last minute trip to Florida.

5. I pledge not to contact the mayor, the Club president, that really successful coach from the other club, USFS judges, local and national press, or Michelle Kwan to come and see my current-Juvenile, future Olympic champion child. At least not without casually mentioning to the coach that I've done so.

6. I pledge not to coach from the stands. While the actual coach can see me.

7. I pledge NEVER to make my child rehash his or her training session in the car on the way home. Even if it kills me. And it will.

8. I pledge to remember the goals that we have set with the coach. That's why we had that conversation. If we achieve or exceed our goals, everyone gets a box of chocolate. If we miss them, everyone gets a box of chocolate, and all the adults get a bottle of whisky, too.

9. I pledge to be friendly and open with other parents at every competition, and to encourage a healthy and friendly competitive relationship among the skaters.
I can always dish about them later, in private.

10. Finally, I pledge to love my child unconditionally and to support my coach, my club, and the structures and rules of US Figure Skating and the ISU, which are put there to support and protect the coaches, the skaters and their families.

Have a great competition season, everyone, and good luck.


  1. Great post. All points with skating parents that really do need some work on the parents' part. I can't imagine the frustration you go through as a coach, seeing all this on a day to day basis (or at least when the big comps roll around). I was lucky enough to have parents who'd drop me off at the rink and come back 4.5hrs later with a lunch box and a big warm sweater. There were no interrogations, I managed to beat myself up about training had gone just fine without any external help lol!

  2. Great post, Xan! I love your sense of humor, too. :-)

    This is our first go at Juvenile Regionals, and my daughter snuck in by the skin of her teeth; there is no pressure because there is no expectation that she's going to do anything other than maybe land a few lower-level doubles in qualifying round and go for one level 3 spin. We're not even booking a hotel room to stay for final round. Ain't gonna happen.

    It's been a busy year, and it's good to end this year with a big exhale at Regionals with everyone - skater included - just going to have fun; next year, I know we're all going to be a bit more nutty and I'll need to reread this post. Four or five times, I'm sure. ;-)