May 7, 2012

What does the skating director do?

There are lots of types of skating directors--from super involved to hermit-like, over-controlling to laissez faire, friendly, mean, aloof, engaged, you name it.

Parents like the over-involved friendly ones (except when they don't), and indeed that public-face-of-the-institution is part of the job.

But what's the rest of the job? What is it that a skating director actually does?

Administrator
Well, first, you cannot imagine the amount of paperwork they have to file. Municipal, county, state, and federal safety, mechanical, and child protection paperwork. Scheduling for each of maybe 5 annual class sessions, 2 competitions, 1 or 2 ice shows, and 2 or 3 exhibitions. Copy for the next brochure. ISI, PSA, and USFS forms for competitions, tests, membership, accreditation. For every coach. There are 23 coaches on staff at the Ice Rink of the Damned, and 1,000 kids in the skating school.

Especially at smaller municipal rinks, systems are not always up to the 21st century, so a lot of work is still done on paper forms. (In other words, you have to do it twice--once on paper, and then again on the computer. Don't ask.)

In other words, a skating director's job is the poster child for busy work. To a large extent, you have to forgive them if they are not in the lobby glad handing.

Ice Show Director
At many rinks, the Skating Director is also the ice show director--selecting the music and arranging for the cut, writing the script, assigning the pros, setting up the rehearsal schedule, choosing the costumes and supervising the set design. This consumes months of time. Even if your Skating Director has a clue and offers to pay pros to fill some of these roles, it's a time-consuming process.

Publicist
The Skating Director is responsible for the numbers. That means it's her job to get the bodies in the door. So she needs to come up with and implement the programs, rewards, classes, and events that keep the ice filled, whether or not she's been given the budget to do this.

Program Manager
Regular classes, specialty classes, off-ice class, clinics, seminars, special events, guest pros, you name it. The skating director is coming up with and scheduling every part of the curriculum, and must coordinate it with other programs sharing the facility (like hockey, karate, Sunday Night B-ball, Mommy-and-Me, and Zoomba).

Principal
The Skating Director is in charge of all those skating pros. She's doing the hiring, firing, hand-holding, negotiating, mitigating, and soothing of all those temperaments.

Psychologist
Not to mention the Skating Moms.

Tell her thank you every once in awhile.

What else does your skating director do? How well does she keep all the balls in the air?

24 comments:

  1. Or him.... :D

    ~Meg

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  2. My mama always told me..."if you can't say anything nice...don't".
    'nuff said! :(

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    1. Oops, I realized that this could be taken in a number of ways. I meant that I wouldn't comment on our rink's skating director...(but would love to...)

      not a comment about your post, which is a great one.

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    2. Yes, I figured that those of you who don't post anonymously would keep mum!

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  3. Interesting post, thanks Xan. I've always wondered what that gal buried in paperwork in the office next to the skate rentals was doing (grin).

    The bit about "paper forms" was disconcerting but it triggered a cascade of thoughts that ended up on this amazing revelation... there doesn't appear to be any National or ISU type organization for Skating Directors! You know, something like the NSDA (national skating directors association). If such a thing existed you'd get:

    1. Computerized forms to expedite organizing everything
    2. A bit more clout toward both rink management and the USFSA

    ... just a random organizational thought from an L.A. Skatedad ...

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    1. Jeff, WHAT a good point. Brilliant.

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  4. Does every rink have a skating director? Just wondering because at the rinks where our daughter skates, there are several different organizational people, but none of them have the title of Skating Director.

    The first rink is a municipal rink and the director of the figure skating program actually owns and runs a private skating academy at this facility, which is loosely associated with ISI. She rents from the city rink. There is a rink manager who manages the facility and coordinates ice time. This skating program is the best run that we have encountered so far, mostly because the academy owner runs the academy as a business.

    Another rink is owned by a private college and it has a rink manager. The figure skating program at this rink, a USFS club, rents their ice from the college. The club is not associated in any way with the college. The club has no skating director or head pro, just 2 very bossy busy-bodies who are the self-appointed chairpersons for everything. There is a skating school director for the club's Basic Skills program but she has very limited influence. There is a club board, but they seem to answer to the 2 bossy individuals (who are not board members).

    The third rink is also a municipal rink. There is a rink manager and a skating school director (ISI). Both of these people work for the ciy's park and rec department. There is a USFS club at the rink, which officially is "not associated" with the skating school (but they really are thick as thieves). The ISI skating school puts on the ice show. There is a club board that makes decisions for the USFS club but the club doesn't run their own LTS program or ice show. The club doesn't have a head pro. They do have a pro liaison on the club board but this position seems to rotate through the various coaches at the rink. Both the skating school and the club at this rink are poorly run. There is great confusion among parents, skaters and, sadly, board members as to the roles and responisibilities or the skating school and the USFS. It's difficult to find the correct individual to ask a question or make a comment. Both of these programs are a mess!

    Is a Skating Director similar to any of these official or unofficial people?

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    1. Titles will vary-- Skating School Director, Rink Manager/Director, Facilities Manager/Director, Program Manager/Director; then some rinks might have Class Manager, Ice Show Director, LTS Manager, Freestyle Manager, etc. depending on the size and wealth of the program. Most common in my area is Skating Director or Skating School Director.

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  5. I believe our SD is also the coaches liaison for the club. BTW, she attends all of our club's board meetings (even though she is not a club board member), because she usually has a lot of info for the club, and the club has info for her.

    Maria, mom of two skaters: FreeSkate 6 and Basic 4

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    1. If you Club is organized under IRS Section 501 or 509, they are required to have open Board meetings; anyone can come. Executive Committee meetings do not have to be public, but board meetings do.

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  6. We don't have a "SD" but a Skating Manager. Seems that our SM spends the vast majority of time on facebook, youtube, and occasionally emerging to deal with customers. Needless to say, the rink as a whole is mismanaged.

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    1. Well, I never said that all the rinks were managed WELL.

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  7. Is it correct that the Rink Manager works for the facility or the entity that owns the facility. The Skating Director works for the skating program, either a private club or skating school or a municipal skating school. The Skating Director should work with the Rink Manager. Is this correct? If a facility doesn't have a Skating Director, but rather a club board that assumes the duties of the skating director, should one be concerned? A parent board probably doesn't have the knowledge or experience to hire or fire coaches or the expertise to develop programs. Not to mention they don't have the time or inclination to deal with conflict resolution. Seems like an effective Skating Director would be an indication of a good program.

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    1. Short answer-- whatever works. Depending on who pays the bills, and how the various entities are organized (nfp corporation, association or club, municipal, private, LLC, etc.) it's up to either statutes, municipality or owner as to how they want the administrative structure to work. You shouldn't worry about this structure unless it is clearly being abused, for instance a Club that restricts all ice at a public facility to club members (as opposed to having purchased club ice). Not dealing with conflicts isn't necessarily from a badly structured business, but rather from a badly managed business. I have heard of programs that are managed by Clubs; on the face of it this seems like a good solution for a program without the means or resources to run a skating school itself.

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  8. I'll add in: most we have met are also private coaches and many are also mentors to coaches. They wear a lot of hats! ~Meg

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    1. This actually surprises me. Many programs do not allow their SDs to teach privates, because of conflict of interest and unfair advantage issues.

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    2. My coach is also the SD at our rink. The SD before that was also a coach there. The SD at the other rink I usually skate at also coaches.

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  9. "What else does your skating director do?"

    She gets put on furlough by the city since they don't understand why these tasks contribute to revenue.

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    1. And then they'll sell the program to a private company because it doesn't make any money.

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  10. In any program I have been a part of the SD also coaches group and private lessons, as well as coordinates the ice show.

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  11. Our skating director only runs the LTS program. She isn't responsible for the coaches at all, unless they teach LTS, and is in no way affiliated with the club.

    She assigns coaches to choreograph the LTS number in the club show, but then she has no further responsibility with the show.

    She is a wonderful lady, but sometimes I think she is either TOO busy for the time they allocate her, or she just isn't efficient. LTS registrations often don't go in until sessions later...they had a lady break her wrist in LTS, and only THEN did they process her USFS registration, because it hadn't been done yet.

    Since many of the LTS coaches don't carry private insurance, I find this really scary. When I used to teach I refused to get on the ice until she could show me the instructor registration had gone through. I think she thought I was crazy (because I sat out two weeks one year). No one else seems to care. (The one coach at our rink who has been sued, the rink somehow took over the case, so it was directed at them and not him, even though he does have his own insurance. But still, that's nice of the rink.)

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    1. Hah, I JUST wrote a post on my blog about nfp consulting regarding the foolish avoidance of rules and paperwork filing. It's a hazard in many industries. Good for you for sticking to your ground.

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  12. The Same AnonymousMay 26, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    Hey Xan!

    Looks like I'm not going to be skating until November, so I was wondering whether you had any advice for long-term storage of skates? Currently I've got them with soakers on in my skate bag (one of the ones with ventilation) which also contains my Ice Halo, boot covers, kneepads etc in a different compartment, but definitely no liquids or anything. It's in my wardrobe (hoping to make space at the top of the wardrobe where it'll be disturbed less). Do I need to check them occasionally for anything like mould, insect damage etc?

    Also, if I happened to recreationally skate during this 5-month period, is there anything specific I should know about either how the skates will feel after a couple of months of non-skating, and/or returning them to long-term storage following a casual skate?

    Thanks!

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