Friday, January 7, 2011

Pre-Freestyle Hell

I've managed to keep a cheery face and a positive mantra through the past ten months. I've made it through Pre-Alpha 1 and 2, Alpha 2 (he skipped 1), now we're in Beta.  With Back Crossovers nearly mastered, the homestretch of Gamma and Delta is on the horizon. Stitch just might make it through these Pre-Freestyle Levels with his love of the ice intact.

Rink People, let me tell you something: We're in the minority, and this isn't happening without a concerted and driven effort on the part of me, Evil Skate Mom.

I may have initiated a bone of contention on another blog, but honestly I couldn't keep my mouth shut. After ten months of feeling dismissed, frowned upon and merely tolerated, it just finally got spelled out for me; No one really cares about your Pre-Freestyle Skater.

I'm at the PTA meetings. I'm at the school fundraisers. I'm at the Fun Fairs. I'm out talking to other moms, and I can tell you that a ton of mothers quit the skating program in the Pre and Alpha Levels. I can see why. There is no support out here. I have had Coach L twice, and I have never spoken to her. The only reason I met other Coaches at all was because I marched up and inserted myself. I know names largely from a picture in the lobby. No one will freely inform Pre-Freestyle skaters of the Practice Ice available to them. No one encouraged Stitch to be at Public Skate to practice. There is no mention of ISI anywhere at Home Rink; no posters, no curriculum, no competition schedules or pictures, nothing.When I asked for a Level Patch, I got a two page email about "Standards" and special testing and three dollars. Competitions were a complete mystery until I brought it up, and other mothers are feeling the same way.  Remember what Rockstar's Mother said to me? "Sometimes I get the feeling we aren't wanted here." That's a running theme amongst the quitters. I didn't see Rockstar and her mom at the last group lesson session.

A heartbreaking conversation with another mother was the story of how her little girl didn't pass Pre-Alpha 1, twice, and the coaches never spoke to the mother at all about why it was happening or how to pass. This little girl looks at skates and she looks like a puppy at the pound, but the mother simply didn't want to "waste money" or deal with the general attitude.

Want to generate interest in the Skating Program? Support the skaters that are already there. They will be the ones running around to all their friends about how fun it is, that is your single best advertisement and it doesn't cost a penny. Got a skater competing? Mention and post it on that massively empty board in the lobby! You know mom has pictures she would love to share! Skaters passing levels? Post it on that empty board! Kids adore seeing their name where everyone can see! How about we make those level patches Standard Issue? Little kids love, love, love patches!! Talk to the pre-freestyle skating mothers, convince them that not everyone in the skating universe stuck up and rude. They are paying the bills, and they are the ones you need to keep coming back. Are some of them awful? Yes! But so is getting up at 5am on a Saturday! If rinks are going to view skaters and their Evil Moms as customers, then they need to remember that most departing customers leave quietly and will never tell you why.

I have lots to say on this subject. LOTS. Especially now that I go to Rink Across Town and I have a comparison point. But as Stitch isn't "Freestyle," my voice seems muted. How much will be listened to, and how much will be dismissed as Crazy Skate Mom?


  1. Stepping out of school here (and probably risking the dreaded green memo), to say, I feel your pain and your frustration. I am so sorry I never encountered Stitch in my classes as he was coming up, because I think you would have had a very different experience of the rink. I do not think that other mom's experience was at all typical; you are absolutely right.

    Keep blogging, complaining, nudging, and skatemomming, (is that a word?) because we need you.

  2. This post resonates with me because, as an adult skater, I often feel slighted by the culture at Crown. You have every right to be there and to demand attention. It is a community center. Community. Not high test freestyle princess center.
    Evil Skate Mom - will you embroider that on my skate bag?

  3. It's just really sad that the label of "Freestyle" is the sole litmus test for a kid's love of the ice, considering how long it can take to get there.

    Maybe you'll get him for Gamma.

  4. Beth, I'll put it on your skate bag in Siam colored Crystal.

  5. As I said to the NoisyBoys this morning, we'll wipe up the ice with their sparkly little butts. (Although full disclosure, I love the snotty little princesses too)

  6. I have found that it doesn't end when you step out onto freestyle ice. There is always someone who thinks you shouldn't be taking up precious resources from their darling skater. You are too old, too young, not good enough, not tested to the right level, not skating the right dicipline, etc. The trick is to learn to ignore it. Sometimes it is toxic enough that you have to skate elsewhere. Luckily there are good clubs out there.

  7. Hmmm, very interesting points. Please keep these coming!

    I honestly don't think rinks treat pre-FS parents and FS parents that differently. Pre-FS parents just tend to be new skating parents. (What does Rink Across Town do in this area?)

    IMO a 2-page FAQ sheet for first time students could answer 70% of the questions.

    What about official online forum / support group that provides resources? As long as there is reasonable PR for it on forms, new skating parents should be able to notice and participate when wanted. (LOL the first thing came to mind was Xan's blog)

  8. I am really curious to see what happens when Stitch gets to Freestyle. From my perspective, it seems like Freestyle parents get all the street cred, and Pre-Frees should feel honored to get a seat. It would be hilarious to find out that nothing changes... LOL I'm honestly not at Rink Across Town enough to know too much about their culture, but I can tell you that during all the snow cancellations I got a phone call from their Skating Director (not a recording ) apologizing for cancelling classes and offering me a coupon for a make up session. He doesn't take classes over there. I'm starting to wish he did. I didn't hear a peep out of Home Rink.

    An online group, much like the PTA Online group I belong to, would be an amazing thing. Google Groups provide document sharing, online calendars, and rapid fire updates. Wouldn't it be great to have your kid's level of Practice Ice schedule right at a mouse click or from your phone in the lobby? How about downloading those forms rather than having them get crumpled and lost in bottomless Mom Purse? All the Coach's information readily available? Sign me up! (I'm calling all of them RIGHT NOW and ordering pizza!) Basic information on skates, costume exchanges and help, but more than that, some sense of inclusion into what feels like a club tighter than the Freemasons. (And just as ridiculous.)

    Oh, and what if we had the Ice Monitor schedules, so we could send an email with "we're coming! I've got a coupon! Let me in!" Or maybe we could make coupons with barcodes so they could be emailable... somebody stop me!!

  9. Yeah a reality check is needed for the ice monitor one, but quite a lot can actually be achieved with the right volunteering efforts!