Tuesday, March 1, 2011

USFS Parent's Guide; Volume 2

This booklet is titled "Keeping it in Perspective." This one is largely dedicated to getting a Coach and Competing. There's fewer lists, fewer pictures, and a lot more directives aimed at you, the Skating Parent.

There are Ten Commandments for Skating Parents. There's a USFS PARENT anagram on page two, complete with a picture of Sasha Cohen.

Then there's a brief outlay of the "Structure of Figure Skating," detailing the up and up on just how you get to the "O" word. Then they give some US Figure Skating records, with mention that the US has won more Olympic figure skating medals than any other country in history. I didn't know that. Is that a testament to the skating or the collective crazy of the Parents? I don't know. They provide a brief detail of the competition and test structure, but since this is just Basic Skills right now, there's no need to really worry about that.

Back to Missives.

A Parent's Responsibility to their Skater. There's eight missives here, including "Learn about the Sport," and "Watch lessons and practices," (HA! Take that, coaches who think I should get lost!) There's a thing here that says, "Don't use the Rink as a babysitter." Really? That it had to be written means that someone did it. "Be a good sport," and "Never destructively criticize, especially in front of others." What? Again, someone does it. This is a lot of common sense, which sadly doesn't seem all that common.

Learning to use the copier? (You have to look for it.)

Tips for avoiding Stress and Burnout. In Basic Skills? Do people really burn themselves out this early in the game? "Set aside time for homework." People, this is a no brainer. School comes first. "Know your limits." This isn't just a skating skill, this is a basic life skill. Know when to stop. "Limit activities and commitments." Remember those kids who didn't have time to practice because they were doing a bajillion other things? Yeah. I know what this is about right here.

Then they get to Coaches. Why your skater needs one, what makes one, what to ask them, and how to talk to them. Immediately following the "You should get a Coach!" page is the "CONFLICT MANAGEMENT" page, then "CHANGING COACHES" which warns you that this process is akin to Divorce. I believe that, but the proximity of all these articles together leaves me fearful of how drama-ridden these relationships can be. 

They then provide this amazing list of crap I'm sure people have done to switch Coaches. Again, that it got written down means someone did it. The best ones are "Go to the Coach's home uninvited and be confrontational." If anyone is planning this, please let me know so I can sit outside in a lawn chair with a glass of Pinot. "Have the new coach send the old coach a fax." A fax? Carrier Pigeon would be more romantic, with the double message of, "and thanks for all the diseased technique." "Create a scene at the rink." Yes. Please, for the love of god, do this one. Please make a scene, and let me have the first row seat. Throw things, yell, shout obscenity. All these things are wonderful ways to make my entire week.

In all seriousness, let's remember communication etiquette in the modern world.

Note that "Fax" is not even on here. Nor is "just start taking lessons with someone else and not say anything."
Passive Aggressive, much? 

A short blurb on understanding Coaching Credentials is certain to make parents go running to the rink and demand to know if their Coach is Level 1 or Level X, and if they aren't Level X can they please say the name of someone who is?And what's your fax number, please?

Preparing a Skater for Entry Level competition. Now they get to it. This article is actually just on the USFS Website, somewhere under Basic Skills. Parents, please note that your involvement with competitions really ends when you sign the form and mail the check. Anything else is just logistics, hugs and post-mortem ice cream. Competitions are really just about the Skater and Coach. Yes, you get bragging rights, but at the end of the day, you didn't skate.You were in the stands with a cold butt.

That having been said, there's some good (but common sense) checklists for comps. Two copies of music, boot polish, a smile, and for the love of pete, your skates. Yes, it is very possible to forget the most indispensable thing. (I once forgot the Gun Prop for a Sam Shepard one-act during a festival. The actor did the whole thing with "gun hand." We lost but it was funny as all hell.)

Then at the back there's a Skating Parent's Code of Conduct. I'm supposed to sign this, but there's no mention of returning it to anyone or anything. It won't go in Stitch's permanent record with USFS. #2 is "I will place the emotional and physical well being of my child ahead of my personal desire to win."

Really? This has to be stated? But I kinda get it. Having your child win, and all the kudos and praise and pretty pictures, the video and trophy, it's all a big delicious cookie. A cookie laced with heroin and crack and a few other nasty things. Yes, more... MOAR!! I found myself showing the pictures of the most recent comp to the clerk at the photo counter. You can get so hung up eating your cookies that you can forget there's a kid and a family and a home somewhere with the cookie jar. Ultimately, you can't have your cookies and your kid, too.

While the guide is full of a lot of common sense, it's probably wise to have it all in one place like this. Restated a billion different ways, perhaps we Crazy Skate Parents will get the message.


  1. Good Lord, I cannot imagine the person who took the time to write that book! Or the events that must have led up to the NEED to write it all down. Sadly, though most of that is obvious and common sense, it doesn't always compute into some parents' heads.

    Hope Stitch is having a blast skating!

  2. I can see how people get carried away. The kids make it look so easy, so for a mom who doesn't skate, she may not get just how hard those elements can be. Add it to the "that Other Kid got it, why can't mine," and it snowballs into a "I WANT MY COOKIES" fit. I got it wrong on the title of this book, it's perspective for the parent, not the skater.