Dec 10, 2014

How can you be a coach if you aren't coaching?

Last April I had to quit teaching classes because life threw me several curveballs and I'm a skater not a sportsballer. I don't know how to catch, or hit, a curveball.

Something had to give, and it needed to be as much a financial decision as anything else. I was teaching at a remote rink and it was costing me as much in gas as I was earning. The commute was an agonizing 2+ hours, reducing my "hourly" to less than minimum wage. The combined professional fees were further eroding the financials. (Skater professional fees are upwards of $600 per year, a burdensome level for people like me who don't do it full time.)

It was a very difficult decision-- I'd been struggling with it for months, but just couldn't give it up. I derive huge emotional satisfaction from teaching, especially from my kids with special needs. I'm very good at it. I miss those kids in particular.

There is fall out-- because I have only one regular and a couple of occasional students, I don't have the income to justify the professional fees. I stuck with the cheaper option–ISI–so that I could still get coaching insurance. But I dropped USFS (!) and PSA, which means I also put my hard-earned rating in abeyance.

So you will now see my rating listed as "I have earned a Senior rating in group instruction" rather than "I have a Senior rating in group instruction." Unlike other professional credentials, PSA says the rating doesn't count if you're not a member. I believe I'm not even supposed to couch it as I have. (This is bullsh*t. Imagine if you were told you don't get to say you have a law degree if you're not practicing law, or that your senior freestyle test doesn't count any more if you're no longer a member of USFS. But that's for another rant on another day.)

It is challenging to reinstate a rating-- it takes up to three years, because you have to re-earn continuing education credit, and they won't count credit earned while you're not a member (I asked).  Technically, you're supposed to be teaching an average of 5 hours per week even to qualify as a professional member, and you need a skating director to attest this.

Fortunately for me, coaching is not a very heavily regulated profession. I have my insurance, and the good will of local rinks. I may get back to it on a more regular basis-- I had always figured that coaching would be my retirement job, and it may yet be.

So how can I be a coach if I'm not coaching? Well, I'll be here, coaching parents on navigating the insanity that is skating culture and the reward and beauty that is the sport of figure skating.

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