Apr 13, 2012

The drama-free rink

I'm not really the one to write about this, because drama seems to follow me around like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe.  But I believe in the drama-free rink, even if just as a goal to strive for.

The first lesson, of course, is that you cannot turn off human nature. You will have cliques, and you will gossip. Any activity in which milestones and competition figures centrally will generate strong emotion.  Not everyone believes in the drama free rink.

But there are steps you can take.

Do your job
If you're a skater, show up for lessons. Follow rink rules, etiquette, and common sense. Take care of your stuff. Respect your coach and the others on the ice. If you're a coach, show up for lessons on time. Insist on proper work ethic and demeanor from your skaters. Respect other coaches' and skaters' space.

Be a grown up
No arguing in the lobby, or worse, on the ice. If you have a problem with someone take it OUTSIDE the rink. Maintain proper lines of authority--I don't care how hip you think you are, or how invested your coaching is in being the hip young coach. You are the coach not the buddy. This means a coach should NEVER talk about other coaches to students or parents.

Don't gossip
Okay, okay, I know this is completely unrealistic, but try to follow the old Talmudic proscription, which I will amend here. Do not pass on speculative chatter about anyone. The ONLY gossip you should engage in is unassailable, confirmable facts. If you are in possession of an unassailable fact that could harm the subject but is not material to their position at the rink, do not pass it on. No one needs to know that the Skating Director's mother committed suicide, or that Coach A had an abortion, or that Coach B is on medication. Stop talking about the rink to the person who shared this information with you.

If you don't actually know the person being discussed, personally (like they know you well enough to remember your name), you shouldn't even be doing that, because really if you don't them, why do you care?

There are lots of other things to talk about--gardening, work, the price of gas.

Make yourself be nice.
Congratulate the skater who just landed an axel for the first time. Applaud all the skaters, not just your skater and her cohort. Make sure your skater does this too.

Don't interfere with, but don't be put off by, natural alliances
Kids, and moms, and gosh, coaches too I guess! develop their own friendships. Not all friendship groups are "cliques" in the destructive sense of the word. But a close-knit group is not an excuse either for them to disparage outsiders, or for outsiders to disparage and ignore them. Just because four moms (or skaters) are tight, doesn't mean you can't interact with them. Just because you have a tight knit group doesn't mean you get to be rude or dismissive of others at the rink.

Keep it in perspective
It's just skating. Even (especially?) at the elite levels. It isn't world peace, it isn't children starving in the ghetto.

How drama-free is your rink? What do you think helps keep it that way?


  1. Too funny! I have yet to sit in a drama free rink, altho some are better than others...lol

  2. This has been going around on the internet and it's a message that people should consider before gossiping. Before you speak, you need to THINK

    T- Is it true?

    H-Is it helpful?

    I-Is it inspiring?

    N-Is it necessary?

    K-Is it kind?

    Parents need to model the behavior they want from their children. I think my rink is a very positive place for parents, kids, and coaches. ~Meg

    1. Meg, that's great! I often envy you what sounds like a really great program.

  3. I agree with Meg - the adults (coaches AND parents) need to model appropriate behavior for the kids.

    Overall my rink is relatively drama-free, and everyone is supportive of the skaters, regardless of coach, level, competitive/recreational, age, etc. I think that's largely due to the adults having their priorities in order, and also to involved, hands-on, long-term management that cares about all of the skaters. I consider it a great blessing as we spend an awful lot of time and money here. I can honestly say I love coming to our rink; it feels like home.

  4. I'll add a couple little vignettes that really struck me: recently my daughter tested USFS MIF for the first time, and the other, older girls at the test session were so kind to her, reassuring her beforehand, telling her she looked pretty in her dress, etc.

    A few weeks ago after a session, I overheard my daughter complimenting another skater, new to our rink, on her program.

    Small kindnesses like these go a long way.