Monday, September 20, 2010

Musing: Sitting on the Sidelines

The skating season is underway and I feel somewhat disenfranchised. No, I am disenfranchised.

Twenty one years ago, it was all so easy. Get up at 4:30am; make school lunch; make breakfast. Wake our skater up (that was when he actually GOT up at 4:30am) and into skating clothes with school clothes tucked away in a backpack. Head for the car and the 16 mile drive to the rink for patch (aka: figures) at 6am, followed by skating lessons. Off to school; off to work; off to school; off to the rink for more skating on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The other days it was a number of things, including gymnastics or skiing. Back home to dinner and off to bed. The routine was down pat with a few monkey wrenches thrown in, like illnesses and competitions - which, on occasion, were one in the same.

The years continued longer than patch did. More time in the rink and more time on the road traveling to competitions. More time talking to parents in the stands, planning club shows and fundraisers, struggling to keep things from imploding both on and off the ice with skaters, parents, coaches, board members and rink operators. Mostly, more time on the road and in the stands.

Then came the move, the new job, the new club, the new arena; new coaches, parents and new competitions and, yes, more time on the road - and in the air. There were the literal and figurative "ups and downs" that come with moving up the competitive skating levels. There was ice dance and pairs, both relatively short-lived for varying reasons. There were injuries and indigestion and more Starbucks than anyone should legally consume. Life was a frozen cocoon of routine comfort. It wasn't always what I wanted to do, but it was what I knew.

Then came another move and life started to change. After 19 years of knowing the routine, suddenly there were no stands, there were fewer (but much more stressful) competitions. There weren't parents, coaches, board members on a daily basis. Life on the road consisted of 1.2 miles each way to work and back, with side trips to the store and other immediate and definitely non skating-related concerns. Suddenly, I was living life in a parallel universe where the only ice was in my drinks and my car wasn't on auto pilot to the arena parking lot.

Now, the 2011 season has begun and I am not in the arena. I am not even sure if I am sitting on the sidelines. I watch the posts on Ice Network with results from the first Junior Grand Prix events and I realize I hardly recognize any of the names. Non qualifying competitions that I used to attend like some attend Sunday services are happening in my town and I don't even know about them until some of my skater friends post results on Twitter or on their Facebook pages.

Regionals and Sectionals will soon be upon us. We will not be there.We will not be sitting in the stands, talking to parents, visiting with judge and coach friends and taking Pepcid after too much coffee, too much fast food and way too much stress. We reserve those days to Nationals now, and the 3 am "BCOD" days of watching Grand Prix competitions on our computer as we sit in our pajamas, still with Pepcid, Starbucks and stress. These are very solitary times in our skating world.

Sitting on the sidelines of skating was simple at first. Now, it has become more difficult as I realize how much I miss those days - the good, the bad and the decidedly ugly. It is like anything in life that has actually defined your life for so many years.

If you are a young skating parent, I have said this before but I feel it bears repeating: While you are still in the rink, still talking to parents in the stands and coaches in the lobby,and still getting up early in the morning and coming home late; if you are still on the road or in the air, or even up in the air about whether you want to be on this ride, step back and take it in. Like a baby grows up too quickly, this time passes into past before you know it. Carpe Diem. Head into the season with eyes and arms open. Enjoy! We'll be there, somewhere, cheering.


  1. Glad you've got those precious memories, and that you savored it while you had it. And looking forward to actually being in the stands again, at Nationals, waving those banners and yelling ourselves hoarse.

  2. This was an incredible post. I don't have children yet, but it made me emotional still for my own days gone by.

    Best of luck to your skater this season :) I'm rooting for him!

  3. Thanks to both of you. It is certainly different to be on this side now but I am excited for the season. And yes, Georgene, we will be yelling ourselves hoarse!

  4. A (VERY) Short Stop on Passages: My husband left this morning to meet our new granddaughter for the first time. While getting ready to leave for the plane, he asked if we had any black shoe polish. I laughed that, "What? Are you serious?" laugh and went straight to the drawer where it used to reside. No polish. None in the junk drawer; none in our skater's old room. A new reality set in. I may have to purchase some just for old time's sake.

  5. I was just thinking of the very thing this past week. How I will miss this all when it is over. When I start to grump about another 4:30 am wake up call, or when I have to pay for yet another ice time punch card, I remind myself that this is the life...and it will be over way too soon (whether he moves up to higher levels of competition or decides to leave skating.) I'm enjoying it while I can. Thanks for the perspective, it just helps to reinforce everything. Oh, and this year it was the injury year...thanks for the reminder that this too shall pass...

  6. I do have to make a slight addendum to my comment about Regionals. Actually, I will be in the stands at Southwesterns for some of the competitions because they are here. When did I realize that? Just this week, of course. I look forward to watching, particularly the young ones, by far they are my favorites because they are free to express themselves and the only skating baggage they have at this point is carry on.

  7. Allison and Allen:
    We are glad to have shared some of the journey with you! So many memories! And, as I can imagine, with Rach heading to the west coast next autumn, we will experience some of what you have described above in the near future!