When I first started out on this adventure, I never understood why Coach hopping was such drama. Now that I've been with a Coach for nearly two years, I totally get why. The USFS Parent's Guide says it's like a Divorce, and they're pretty much dead-on in terms of emotional attachment. But in squicky terms of decorum and manners, switching Coaches is a gray area. You don't want to hurt feelings, but you know you're going to, so people seem to do all sorts of weird, evasive, and sometimes passive aggressive, things to dodge the problem.
Here are some of ways that I've observed Other Parents handling Coaching swaps over the past two years.
The Dissatisfied Customer
As a consumer buying a Coaching Product, this Parent isn't liking what she's getting. What they're getting is Second Place. Or last place. Or any place other than First. You get the idea. Never mind that there are a host of other factors at work at any given competition and skating in general, clearly any loss or failure to progress is the Coach's fault. So, obviously a New Coach is needed. Duh.
A Vaguely Dissatisfied Mom is in the stands, and she happens to hook up with another Vaguely Dissatisfied Mom. The two of them start talking, and talking, and watching, and talking, and pretty soon Coach is not only responsible for the Skater's poor progress, we're pretty sure she's delivering nuclear material to Iranian malcontents. Neither of them say anything to Coach, because Coach would just ask them to be Drug Mules, probably. Who knows. Better just leave quickly.
The Slow Withdrawal
They haven't scheduled any private lessons in awhile. They used to have a pretty regular schedule, but now things are up in the air. A few weeks go by, they're rarely spotted at all, maybe at Group Lessons on the Off Day. Another few weeks go by, and then suddenly they're spotted with some other Coach. No one knows why, no one asks. We all just move on.
Magician Mom and the Disappearing/Reappearing Skater Trick
Sometimes some skater drops off the radar for awhile. Just gone. Magician Mom has waved her magic minivan and they stopped coming. Coach asks if you've seen them, and you say no. You just assume they've moved or in some cases hope they've been carted off by gypsies. But no, a few weeks later they reappear. Magician Mom opened her magic minivan and Skater reappeared! With a New Coach! It's magic!
Surpriser just pops up on a lesson day and says, "Well, I guess this is goodbye." Doesn't give a reason or explanation, never gave any indication that she was the least bit concerned or unhappy, just parts ways. Like ripping off a Band Aid. It's okay. No real feelings hurt here, right? .... *crickets*
Want to move to a new rink? Clearly, this means a fresh start! Mover believes this method also clears any unwanted and awkward meetings with Old Coach. Because Coaches always stay at their Home Rinks, and never go anywhere else. **snorfle**
This one likely comes with a lot of baggage. Hopper goes from Coach to Coach, never sticking with anyone and always thinks of her kid's private skating lessons as "one-offs." Because she's chronically switching, her kids progress really slowly and Hopper will say it's because she hasn't found the "right" coach yet. Hopper really doesn't fit in with the "Bad Ways to Switch Coaches" list, because she's more a "Clueless Parent" category, but she's worth mentioning because it's just as rude.
Me? If I ever do switch, it will be via Fax. Fax, Voice Mail, or Text Message, these are all the clear winning ways to fire an employee. (This is sarcasm.)
What horrible ways have you seen or heard of when people switch coaches?