Saturday, October 11, 2014

Almost Famous

 I was shopping in a local discount store today (okay, it was Costco), when a couple approached me in the aisle where I was trying on biking gloves.
"Are you Allison Scott?" this very pleasant-looking lady asked with some trepidation.
Quizzically, I replied, "Yes.."
"I read your blog."
I was taken aback. Costco. Really? 
I've been a skating mom for 25 years. At this point in my somewhat storied career I (kind of) expect to be recognized by skating fans and parents in arenas, and in context. But in COSTCO?
I chatted with the woman and her husband for awhile. Their daughter is a pre-juv skater in the area - another family just starting on the E-Ticket roller coaster of competitive skating. They were so sweet, and I truly appreciated the recognition - particularly since I was very much out of the skating element standing amidst a pile of gloves. For a fleeting moment (actually, a half-second), I understood what my skater goes through on a regular basis - the incident in 
Saitama, Japan at Worlds came immediately to mind when he, and two other well-known skaters, decided they MUST have Starbucks before the exhibition and went into the food court below the rail station only to be absolutely mobbed by adoring fans. But me be recognized? No way!
I never really thought about being "almost famous," but in many ways being the mom of an elite skater, being a blogger and being a person whose job is being in the public eye, albeit in a totally different field, I guess it comes with the territory. 

Which brought back story I want to share.

I have been particularly blessed to have some great friends in the media. One of them is the former producer/director of ABC Wide World of Sports, years of numerous figure skating championships, now author and US Figure Skating Hall of Fame member Doug Wilson

I first officially met Doug during Skate America in Colorado Springs in 2001. I was less than a year into my new job and found myself hosting the entire broadcast crew, including Dick Button and Peggy Fleming, for dinner. Doug and I immediately hit it off. I come from a radio and TV background; my dad was a producer/director for CBS and NBC back in the day. Doug and I shared stories. We became friends. I even helped orchestrate a surprise birthday party for him a few years later at my place of work. He became, and still is, a treasured colleague and mentor.

But there was that time..2009 U.S. Nationals in Cleveland. 

My skater had won the junior title in Portland in 2005, missed Nationals by a place as his first year senior on the Olympic year of 2006, placed 4th at Nationals in 2007 and again in 2008. He had been the first U.S. man in 2009 to win the Grand Prix and expectations were sky-high. I alternated from being excited to wanting to throw up. I really wanted to just duck and cover. 
Yeah, right.
Understand that when a parent gets to the elite level, there is almost no such thing as hiding, unless you become one with the bathrooms in the arena. Our reactions during competition become almost as scrutinized as our skater's performances. We are watched like hawks. We are photographed, interviewed and our every facial nuance is scrutinized as cameras look for that all-important moment when a tear streams down our cheeks in either pride or disappointment. In a few short minutes, we become the public embodiment of all those years our skaters have worked to achieve this level of accomplishment. It's heady stuff.
So, here I am with my family. Here I am in Cleveland, and it is another year closer to the 2010 Olympics. And, here I am as the parent of the Grand Prix champion as he makes his bid for a first U.S. Men's Championship. Here I am having given my cell phone number to that wonderful colleague and mentor, Doug Wilson. Sitting in the stand at the Quicken Loans arena, my cell rings. It's a woman's voice. "I'm with ABC. Doug wants to know where you are sitting."
Trust me. As a nervous parent, these are not the words you want to hear. 
"I'm not exactly sure," (a weak response in retrospect). "We are in a corner but I can't see the numbers. I know I'm about half way up." 
"Okay, we'll find you." 
I disconnect the call. (Expletive deleted)
I'm thinking, "So, I didn't commit to my seat location. Maybe I'm safe."
I didn't think about the fact that, just before the start of the freeskate, a booming "GO ALEXANDER" would echo through the arena, giving our position away. Like a heat-seeking missile, our location was discovered. There was nowhere to hide. DRAT!

All's well that ends well, I suppose. Yes, Doug found us and chronicled our reaction to my son's first national championship. I survived the glare of media attention knowing that the next year, with Olympics at stake, it was only going to get more intense.
In order to deal with the pressure, I decided to record my experiences of then 20 years of being a skating parent. I'd lived life on the edge of skating for all that time, so why not recount some of my experiences along the way?
It's funny, really. Here I am 25 years into this sport; Regional competition is nearly complete and then Sectionals begin. It's been 10 years since we've participated in either one. Doug Wilson is still a great friend and inspiration. Now, one year to the day, I'm writing about him again. I thought I was going to be ending this blog and that Life On The Edge Of Skating would morph into something totally different as I left my self exile to the Lutz corner and took my "rightful" seat front row center to watch the next generation of skaters. 
Things happen for a reason. Today's encounter with new skating parents in an aisle at Costco made me realize there is a greater purpose in doing what I do. As we head into the 2015 season, I hope I can continue to educate, inform and along the way make people laugh. If that's my skating legacy, then living life on the edge has most certainly been worth it. And I'm okay with being Almost Famous.
"I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille." Let's roll. 


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