Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Listen

I'm a Listener. Had I been an American Indian, I would have been the one with my ear to the ground. I overher all sorts of crazy crap, but mostly at the rink.

I'm told that our rink is very unique in that mostly everyone is supportive and friendly. I know a lot of names by now, and mostly everyone knows or at least knows of Stitch. Stitch enjoys a minor celebrity status being the favorite of the Rink Guards. However, we're not free of our share of weirdos, and Stitch is encountering what will be his first tastes of rivalry. Not that he knows it, I just overhear it.

Saturday Stitch had a private lesson. His regular Privates are on a smaller rink, usually shared by four or five other kids getting privates from other coaches. One of these coaches I'll call Neil Diamond. (Not because it's a dead match, but he reminds me of the famous singer.) I don't particularly like Coach Diamond's teaching style. It mostly involves him running fast circles of the maneuver to be learned, while the kid struggles to perform it in the center of this whirling madness. Add to that Coach Diamond's calls of, "Do it! Put your foot there! Come on!"

Our Coach first does a patient explanation, followed by demonstrations, then Stitch tries. Demonstrate, try. Demonstrate, try, try again. Demonstrate, try, try, try again. And so on. Stitch may not pick it up right that day, but as I always say, "Tomorrow is another day." (Skating is hard.)

Coach Diamond's student I will call Richie Rich. Because he is a millennial version of Richie Rich. His mom and dad sit on the benches, watching like hawks. The mom wears fitted furs and does a lot of glaring. Sometimes at me. It's unnerving. I tried once to engage the dad in conversation, but he politely responded before making it clear he wasn't interested. Richie Rich has never once spoken to Stitch, even though they are the same age and skating level. He wears some serious high test skates, very new.

Coach Diamond and Richie Rich were out together again this past Saturday. I was in the lobby, having just finished up with Stitch's skates and told him to report to the ice to wait for Coach. Diamond was greeting Richie's well dressed parents and the Dad was making comments about the Ice Show rehearsal the previous day.

"Oh, yes, we're really happy. At rehearsal that night, all those other boys were marching like this," and he made some wonky jerky motion. "But not Richie, he knew what he was doing!"

I smiled. "All those other boys?" Yeah, okay.

I learned from Rink Informant that Coach Diamond at one point was "watching" Stitch. But now that Stitch is the clear property of Coach Y, he may have switched camps. Stitch informed me that Coach Diamond ushered him to "shoo shoo shoo" away from a specific area during practice ice one afternoon. Now, I don't know the context or what Stitch was doing. I wasn't there. But if Stitch was doing crossovers or any other sort of serious practicing, then I have a problem. For now, I let it go.

Coach Diamond knows what his parents want, and he gives it to them. A few weeks ago, he was teaching Richie a two foot hop with a half rotation. He called this a "Mazurka." (I know it's a real move, I just don't know if they were doing it right. They weren't moving when they did it.) Mom and Dad gushed and applauded from the sidelines. They spent a good ten minutes doing this, and again, I'm not sure if it was correct. Parents love jumps. Jumps are Super Cool. A half done jump is way cooler than a boring crossover, sure. But the Boring Crossovers come FIRST.

So, Richie Rich is doing standstill Mazurkas, and Stitch is still stumbling through the mechanics of a backwards crossover. That jumping over there is way cool, but watch Richie try a backwards crossover. He stumbles a lot more than Stitch. I think this is a grave coaching error. Basic moves come before jumps!!

At the end of the lesson, Coach Diamond picked up Richie and swung him around head down on the ice. Both of them were laughing and making noise, round and around they went, and I was horrified. If at any point I had considered switching to Coach Diamond, that door closed in that moment. One, that is incredibly dangerous. Two, I'm paying you to coach, not turn the ice into a playground. Three, I'm all for being friends, but a Coach needs to have a student's respect. Hard to maintain when you're swinging a student by his toes. (And I don't see Stitch being very responsive to his coaching style.)

I will continue listening to Coach Diamond and his parents, and I will see if my Rink Informant has any new information for me.

On the homefront, Stitch showed me rather definitively that he can do a very low Shoot the Duck off the ice. He got down and stuck that foot right out there. "Holy cow, kiddo!"

"Yeah, but I can't do it on the ice," he lamented.

"Try it on Friday, just keep practicing."

He also showed me that he can almost make a full rotation jump. I was having him do half-rotations in the parking lot, but then he decided to go all the way. He can almost make it!

One of my points with Coach will be to ask for a list of things we can do off the ice, at the playground so Stitch can improve his strength. Another is a list of moves I can run down with Stitch on Public Skate.

1 comment:

  1. I want to comment on this so badly, but I can't. Just let it be said, I hear you.