Some of you might be wondering about Stitch. He's still around. He helps out at the rink when I'm there and entertained us all during ice show by putting on a full on tutu, top hat and cane, dancing to "Shake it Off" in the Costume Shop. He's joined the Boy Scouts and goes camping and does Boy Things with them. He spent last summer fishing and firing guns of some sort, which was all fine by me. He does pretty good in school and he's mostly a laid back kid preoccupied with video games, Five Nights at Freddy's in particular.
But we had a deal at the start of the school year; You need to do a Sport. I didn't care what it was, just something for organized physical activity. Well, being a pre-teen boy he never did. So I decided to toss him to my Speedskating friend, and come to some of the Drop-In speedskating sessions.
Oh, how he hated me. "Mom, no! I don't skate anymore!" he wailed. "I don't want to! You can't force me! Why are you doing this??"
"Because we had a deal. You didn't pick a sport, so I picked one. I think you'll like Speedskate Coach, you already know how to skate, and it's just forward stroking and crossovers. We hang out at the rink anyway, so this is easy. You'll go for three or four sessions and we can make a decision from there. Okay?"
"Mooooooom!!!! Why do a need a sport? I want to LIVE my LIFE!"
The preteen angst was killing me. "It's only an hour and a half. You'll live."
The Speedskating drop in is a half hour of off-ice followed by an hour of on-ice instruction. While the kids do off-ice, the parents are shanghied into dragging out mat after mat after mat after mat after mat after mat to line to boards. So I hauled mats. The kids came back, most of them in rather professional looking skinsuits, and started getting skates on.
Stitch was issued a pair of freshly "sharpened" club skates, Speedskate Coach tied and strapped them. I gave Stitch my fleece and gloves, and helped him down to the ice door. "This is death class," Stitch said ominously as he made his way through the door and past the mats.
"Good luck!" I stepped away, and re-took my place in the stands, where I used to sit and watch him practice jumps and spins. And the Speedskating Moms sat near me and I just listened and smiled, watching the kids, having done this before. There was a Queen Bee mom of the Starlet Racer, and the other moms hovered around her and they discussed races and meets, much like the Figure Skating moms talk about Tests and Comps. Nothing else changed, just the skates.
Stitch was awkward for all of about ten minutes. It wasn't long before he was getting some speed, although he did look intimidated during the warmup. I would have been, too. Three other kids Stitch's age showed up in jeans and fleeces and bike helmets, also newbies, and they were now Team C. Teams A and B were flying around the perimeter in skinsuits, while ragtag Team C took the center to learn the basics. I watched in horror as Stitch actually tried a spin or two. In Speedskates.
Once they got some one foot glides and stroking down, Team C got the perimeter a few times, too. Stitch was flying around, obviously having a blast and winning all the races of Team C. Whenever he'd cross the finish line, he'd throw his arms up in victory. He took one fall that I saw, but recovered fast and won that race too. (Apparently there was one other fall where he went into the boards. I missed that one but Stitch says it was hilarious.) At the end of the session he managed to do a few crossovers in those horrible skates.
When they were done, Stitch was reticent to say he had fun, but it was pretty clear he did. "Are we coming back next week?" I asked as I helped him off the ice.
"Yes," he muttered, unwilling to admit that I'd been right. "The off-ice is torture, but the skating is pretty fun."
"Great. How do you like Coach?" Speedskating Coach is a character study, and saw right through his 11 year old attitude.
"He's cool. He told the other kids to do two laps and me to do three, and I still won. Why is speedskating only on Sunday?"
"That's just how it is, but I can ask Coach if you can use the skates during publics to practice on them."
"Yeah, I'd do that."
"Great. I just need Coach to show me how to tie them."
"When can I get my own speedskates?"
"When your feet stop growing."