Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Primer for New Parents as Regionals Begin...

Regionals have started. To be honest, it's been a few years since we've gone. I actually forgot about it until the memories of those halcyon days came flooding back like a tsunami last weekend as frantic parents and skaters at our club competition could do nothing but discuss where they were skating, who was competing, flight schedules, room rates, coaching costs, costumes, get the idea. It was almost as exciting as opening night on Broadway. All the anticipation; all the buzz. It was time to "Let the Games Begin!"

For new parents, entering into the wonderful world of Regionals is like going to kindergarten on your first day. At once, you are both the parent and the child. You timidly hold on to your past life like the mother's hand that was there to protect you through your early years. As you let that security slip away, finger by finger, you see this uncharted space before you. The door looks inviting; everyone is smiling, but still there is trepidation. The child in you is excited; the parent in you is rationally aware that things will never be the same. You are now on your way to becoming a valet-cum-travel agent-cum-concierge-cum-sedan driver-cum seamstress, secretary, security and new student in the world of competitive skating.

Remember that I talked about schlepping your skater's things into the rink, having to keep track of skates, costumes and bags? Well, now add to that practice ice schedules at different rinks, transportation and hotel reservations for you and for your coaches (many of whom can't seem to grasp how to do this themselves), navigating strange cities in even stranger rental cars, finding reasonable dining options, and the absolute "Must" for most skating families: Locating the nearest Starbucks!

Of course you've done this at non-qual events. Trust me, you haven't done it with the intensity, verve, nerve and chaos that is infused into a qualifying competition where a lot is at stake. What you thought was familiar isn't. What you thought you knew about the sport immediately goes out the window, along with your sanity. Trust me: Qualifying competitions are NOTHING like club comps. This is "Project Runway" meets "America's Top Model," with a little "Dancing with the Stars" thrown in for good measure. Your skater's qualifying round could be her last (we didn't have that - another reason to have a male skater!).

For your coach and your skater, it has to all be there when it counts. For you, it is a level of butterflies and nausea equivalent to contracting Swine Flu. You sit there in the stands and all of a sudden it hits you like the proverbial ton of bricks: You are NOT in control. You resort to ancient rituals and superstitions (see one of my previous blogs on this). You pace; you pray; you palpitate. What you can't do is skate the program for your skater. All you can do is sit helplessly by trying to be the wind beneath their fledgling wings. You are out of control. There is nothing you can physically do to make it better. In a word, it SUCKS!

Like it is with kindergarten, welcome to your next 14+ years. You are at the start of your long educational road in this sport.


  1. LOVE it! Well, your big boy is definitely in graduate school now.

  2. Smart of you to have had a boy!

    From the other side, from the mediocre skater who is too old and too lame to go to a qualifying regional comp: It's crazier than usual at the rink! The game of dodge'em has just been stepped up as the monitoring and feverish run-throughs are happening.

  3. For the mother of an 8 year old who is striving to go to regionals and be a competetive skater I have already been thinking about this stress. Club competitions are stressful enough - I think we'll send Dad:-)

  4. Oh, you may want to rethink that. I have a post coming on skating dads. They are a breed unto themselves. Some of them make "Dragon Lady" skating moms look like Mary Poppins. You should BOTH go. She's 8. Believe me, she won't make the 2010 Olympic team. Listen, watch, learn and network. If your daughter stays in the sport, you are just starting up the rollercoaster. As Bette Davis said, "Fasten your seat belt. It's going to be a bumpy ride!"

  5. Thank you for this, we just finished our first Regionals Competition. It was an experience to remember for sure. I was all of the hats you mentioned except the seamstress luckily. LOL. We also have a boy, I can't imagine what it's like for the parent of a girl (kudos to them all!).

    I just discovered your blog and can't wait to read more...fastening our seat belts over here. The ride has just begun! ;)

  6. We may have lucked out but we just made it through her first regionals smoothly. It wasn't just her first regionals it was her first USFS competition and I didn't notice a difference. At all!
    the judging system is different but that was it.
    ??? Did I miss something???

  7. You missed the stress. Congratulations!!

  8. Just found your blog. It's so wonderful. Thanks for share your experience as skater parents with us. I had 12 yr old girl. This was the 3rd time for us been in Regional. "For you, it is a level of butterflies and nausea equivalent to contracting Swine Flu. You sit there in the stands and all of a sudden it hits you like the proverbial ton of bricks: You are NOT in control." This was exactly me and it was the 1st time I got this feelings. I could not even bare to stay there. But on the other hand, I did not want to disappoint her, gosh, I was the longest gut wrench, heart beating time ever in my whole life. I told her that day that I was not a good skater mom. I never imagined I could be so nervous. That day, I started to respect her as a skater, an athlete, a young lady. Wow, she did so much better than me and yet, she was the only one being in a big sheet of ice, being fighting, performance and being judged. The result did not matter. For what she endured and pulled through, I finally realized that my girl is growing up. Thank you for bring the memory back.

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