Thursday, February 3, 2011


jjane45 commented on my "Pre-Freestyle Hell" post, and it made me think. (I love being made to think, especially after shoveling snow.) My perspective is actually really limited.

What if he gets to Freestyle and nothing changes? What if I'm still fighting Zuca bags for a seat and still sitting alone during Practice Ice and thankful for it. My alternative is just witless conversation about how great some other kid is. What if the culture stays as closed off to me then as it is now? What then?

Is there a way to make the culture more open and inviting? How can we level out everyone's different perspectives so we get a clearer picture?

I belong to a PTA Online Group. Sometimes it's a lot of fun, like the time some mom wrote the principal and cc'd the group about how the kids shouldn't make holiday cards for the troops during a completely voluntary Saturday event, which triggered a massive flood of nast-e-mails countering her flimsy soapbox. That was awesome. But there's a lot of honestly good stuff on there. I know about all the after-school clubs, I download e-copies of the paperwork that Stitch loses,  and I get minutes from the meetings I miss. I'm familiar with the Middle School workings even though that's years off, and I have contact information for everyone who's anyone at the school.

Could we get something like that for the Skating School?

How wonderful would postings be requesting volunteers (with the pitiful "urgent" cry that tugs at me)?
Online shared calendars with Practice Ice Schedules for the various levels? How about color coding, red means "this session fills fast!", green being, "this ice is usually empty!"
Online documents? No more, "Rats, I spilled Diet Coke all over my Ice Show form! Now I have to drive back and get another one!"
Would contact information for coaches be a bad thing? (I can think of a few I'd like to Prank Call.....)
Notices for emergency situations via email?
Postings about skaters who do cool things?
Warnings when certain class levels are getting to capacity? (Call now to get your spot!)
A gear exchange? Skates? Costumes?
A *gasp* FAQ?

Could something like this serve to help out Newbie Parents, help them to feel included? You don't just show up for class once a week, you're in The Skating School!

Am I onto something or is this just crazy talk?


  1. Why does Princess heft her Zuca bag onto the bench? Wheel it out of the way & sit your Chloe Noel ass down on the Zuca zeat! Leave the bench for the poor unfortunates w/o $150 bags. Princess also needs to stop putting damp smelly Uggs on the specially designed sitting structure! One more thing Princess, if I am spinning in the middle of the ice, like I am supposed to, I will not yield to your excessively wide alternating cross over. Think about it. Does it seem like I mind falling? Or taking you down with me? Hmmm?

    btw Crazy talk. Crown doesn't have contact management software. Individual coaches could set up what you suggested.

  2. Why is Princess wearing Uggs anyway? If she's a serious skater, her buniony feet ought to be in gym shoes! Nothing beat the day I was fighting for a seat on the benches and would up next to some chick in front of the bench and sitting on her Zuca. SIT ELSEWHERE!! I want so badly to create a competing brand of skating clothing: Hobo Cloehl. (Kind of like The South Butt.)

    Rinks need contact management software. That's how we keep up with clients, right? Get with the program!

  3. I am a good employee who does not trash my management in public. I am a good employee who does not trash my management in public.I am a good employee who does not trash my management in public.I am a good employee who does not trash my management in public.I am a good employee who does not trash my management in public.I am a good employee who does not trash m........

  4. Don't get me wrong. All I really care about is making sure the coffee stays stocked over there.

  5. LOL @ Xan

    Wow tons of great ideas flowing here. To be honest, a lot of these could start on an unofficial platform without management involvement, a simple Google Group can go very far. Privacy preservation and gossip control need some careful thoughts though.

    I am all for it :P

  6. You're right; we should be more organized. My impression is that many rinks have an incorporated club that organizes all figure skating activities and contracts with the rink. The rink does not do anything but provide the ice. This model presumably protects the skater's interests.

    I don't think that Home Rink should switch to this model, but I do think that the rink users should get organized so they could advocate for themselves. In particular, we need to speak up to the city about the construction of the new Crown Center, which the city council will be voting on soon. So far, only the anti-tax crowd is making their voice heard. We could also act to encourage front-office improvements at the rink. 9 weeks to process payment for practice ice; takes an hour to rent a locker; unacceptable!

    There are a lot of other things we could do. Many rinks are having a group trip to see RISE on 2/17; that would be a fun way to start organizing and building community.

    I would gladly participate in the email list and calendar you suggest; in fact, I've long been wondering if it already exists and I just have not discovered it yet. I'd love to get an email when there is off-the-calendar practice ice.

    I agree with Beth, the whole point of Zucas is to sit on them. Oh, and Home Rink does have some software; the staff magically know my wife's name, and I get practice ice forms in the mail. It's just not used well enough, or isn't good enough.

    Xan: Post anonymously.

    jjane45: It's the user's responsibility (or their parents') not to post private information. I couldn't care less about gossip, but I'm a married adult male skater, not a 14 year old girl, so I suppose my opinion doesn't count.

    -- Adult male skater (that sure narrows down my identity a lot)

  7. Oh, one more thing; one reason things aren't so nice for beginners is that Home Rink is already overcrowded. If we can get the city to build that bigger rink, people might be more friendly to beginners since they won't have to worry about the crowding getting worse.


  8. Imagine dedicating a thread for each coach and have parents / skaters discuss their experiences with the said coach... *second gasp*

    By gossip I actually was more thinking about defamation. If things get too out of control it just makes things harder to obtain semi-official status at some point. (Or is it really necessary?) Well at least no lawsuits since minors are likely involved!

  9. Mods would be so important if we're going to start talking about coaches. I certainly have my preferences, but I don't want to hurt people. In fact, I'd refer anything like that off-list and kept to private messaging.

    AMS - About the overcrowding, if more people start showing up and actively supporting the program, perhaps the fight for a bigger facility wouldn't be so hard. This comes back to perspective; Why would anyone support something that Princess chased them out of? This is where the closed club mentality can bite them in the ass.

    You get practice ice forms in the mail? Wow.

    Yes, there are Clubs out there, but they are affiliated with USFSA. They work with competitive skaters to test and compete at a higher level. (Xan, this is just my take, correct me if I'm wrong.) Since Home Rink seems to exist in Limbo, not really belonging to any skating organization, then anyone can just walk on Practice Ice. This situation doesn't happen at Rink Across Town.

  10. Practice ice protocol is in need of tweaking, imo.

    A couple weeks ago a monitrix told me she couldn't take a coupon because I had crossed out JoyBoy's name and written in SuperKid's. The no cross out policy was instituted because coupons were stolen. I resolved the issue by writing the following on the back of the coupon: I, mother of JoyBoy, being of sound mind & body, freely bequeath this coupon to SuperKid. She overlooks my cross-outs now.

    No cross outs? Really? Perhaps if we used a different method like loadable cards, theft would be less of an issue.

    I probably won't be allowed to buy coupons for Spring because Evanston Recreation hasn't managed to deposit the check for winter ice. My account will be considered delinquent because no one deposited check I wrote in October.

    Submission of coupons. Is there a policy?
    I know people submit them the day before the ice time. Was deeply annoyed when I learned that. I have seen coaches turn in a stack to make sure their kids get on. No system will be flawless. There will always be people who get 'special' treatment. Is there a reason the policy is covert?

    Ice time in the summer. I have no idea of the method used for deciding who gets what. Do Evanston residents get priority? Is it first come, first served? Do people who buy a lot of time get priority? Do kids with Crown affiliated coaches get priority? Lack of transparency leads me to believe the allotment is unfair.

    On the ice. No wonder coaches instruct kids to skate big ass patterns through the middle of the rink. There is no penalty for flagrantly violating the (invisible) rules. Maybe the monitrix says something. Very maybe. Not sure I would bother, her voice carries next to no weight.

    Invisible rules on the ice.
    Coach Chris is the only one who explained to me how practice ice works. A diagram would be nice.
    Reminders would be helpful. Ejection of unrepentant repeat offenders would be excellent.
    Would also like to eject high freestylers from pre or low freestyle ice if they decide to practice anything more dangerous than a sit spin. If the ice is dedicated to low freestyle, skaters shouldn't do a high speed 3 city block long set up for a jump.

  11. Beth, the practice ice forms say that you must follow the diagrams, which are available from the monitor. Last time I asked, the monitor didn't have them.

    High freestyle skaters on prefreestyle ice are a big problem because they are scaring away the prefreestyle skaters. This is particularly bad on Wednesday evenings, the only prefrestyle session that is after working hours. However, I don't think the very best skaters are dangerous; they seem to be very careful.

    There is one coach though who never looks where she is going. One of these days I'm going to yell at her in front of her students.

  12. I'm from another part of the country so have patience with me. I just want to throw out some ideas that I've seen around the Boston area. Most clubs around here have their own website run by the club. All forms and ice times are available through the website. No driving back to the rink for a piece of paper.

    One club also has a Facebook page for announcments of upcoming events. Some of the older coaches are tech challenged but are having to catch up with the whole computer thing since PSA certs are done on line. The website maintainance can be part of the yearly "volunteer hours".

    To become included the club could set up a mentoring program for new members. Experienced parents voluteer to be contacts for new parents to field questions. Or hold a get to know the club officers meeting for newbies. One club has a coffee social for the adults on a Thursday morning. Skating and coffee and lots of chatting.


    None of these are run by rink management.

  14. At our rink, the higher level skaters are typically represent one of two USFSA Clubs. The trouble we're running into here is that if you're not in with these clubs, you're pretty much on your own. So, if you just want to skate and not mess with high level tests of competition, or if you're not at a level where you need to be in a club, well, good luck out there.

    If Stitch continues on this path, then he'll need to be in a club.

    What we need here isn't a club, but rather an information hub. A website for recreational skaters and low level skaters to feel a part of a community, rather than just some other people cluttering up the ice.

  15. How strange. Around here the learn to skate programs are run by the clubs. Then again we don't have ISI around here either. The clubs take care of the learn to skate people because they are considered a feeder program into freestyle.

  16. It took me a long while to figure out I should not sharpen the skates at random rinks, soakers are for storage and hard guards are for walking etc. I talk to skaters fairly often but still learned these things the hard way (e.g. rust on blades and wiped out rocker). And today I see the same pattern on my friend, whose kids just picked up skating several months ago.

    Baffled, when you say "the clubs take care of the LTS people", do you feel it includes educating them on basics like those listed above?

  17. Each club is different. After I posted I remembered that Lake Placid has two clubs. One that handles all the LTS programs, the adults and the special needs folk and a second club that is the high freestylers. Some clubs are more inclusive than others. It is all part of the club culture which can be shifted under new management but can be difficult if the old guard is entrenched in positions of power.