Friday, September 17, 2010


PS Magazine, Sept/Oct 2010
On June 10 at 11:45 am pacific coast time a coach from the LA area updated his Facebook status with the following words, “PSA + C-E-R'S = GREED”. By that night, six more coaches weighed in with comments like, “yep its called lets suck all the money we can out of the coaches” and “thief” and finally, “The smell of corruption is powerful to allow so many ‘required’ fees.” You can imagine how I felt reading those words. You can imagine as the e-mail made the rounds how those on the board of governors felt and those committee volunteers who give hundreds of hours of there time to this “greedy” organization. Unfortunately, while a majority of LA coaches have worked hard to improve their “product”, a loud vocal minority continues to misstate the current facts regarding membership to PSA, required CER’s, criminal background checks and in general, the purpose and mission of the PSA.

For over 70 years, the PSA mission has been: “Dedicated to providing continuing education and accreditation to ice skating professionals. That has not changed, nor will it and I don’t believe I need to apologize for doing just that. Additionally, the PSA is “owned” by the membership. Full members vote for their representation on the Board of Governors, and those on the board vote for the leadership. While there seems to be some confusion regarding the position of the Executive Director, I am a paid employee who works at the pleasure of your elected president. My job is not making policy but to follow the direction of the executive board. Interesting enough, while my “Facebook friend” believes me to be greedy and corrupt, he has never attended a single PSA event, purchased anything from the site, nor voted in any election. My “Facebook friends” continue however, to complain about myself and my predecessor, Carole Shulman. If they really wanted to change the way the association operates, maybe they should do their own research as opposed to gossiping online and rehashing issues from the 80’s. Since my “Facebook friends” didn’t bother, I will enlighten them here.

As reported during the business meeting at the recent conference, the greedy PSA showed a net operating profit of $1,417. I know we are supposed to be a not for profit organization, but I couldn’t help squeezing that $1500 dollars out of the coaches. But really, nearly all of the money generated from Educational Programs is spent on those programs themselves. For example, last year we earned $321,450 presenting our seminars, Workshops and PACE and had expenses of just under $310,000. The sales of Educational material such as manuals and DVD’s, were $129,000 with expenses of $123,500; a net profit of less than 5%.
In regards to CER’s, this program is a US Figure Skating rule, under the direction of the US Figure Skating Coaches committee. It is not a requirement of PSA membership but of US Figure Skating. The PSA supports and delivers the CER’s for US Figure Skating. Interesting enough, while my “Facebook friends” think that there is no need for continuing education, the results of the exams say otherwise. The CER US Rules 101 course has been taken by 6064 coaches with a passing rate of 71%. In laymen’s terms, 1,800 American coaches could not pass the test on how to read the rulebook… To be fair, most attempted the exam without the aid of the rulebook. Comparatively, the Ethics Course passed at a 97% rate and Sport Science at 98%. The second most difficult CER test was IJS 101 in which 12% failed, a total of over 360 coaches of the 3000 plus Category A coaches. While my “Facebook friends” may feel that there is no need for them to know the rules, I’m sure the parents of their skaters might think otherwise.

In spite of the fact that being a professional is becoming increasingly expensive, requiring education is considered necessary by U.S Figure Skating’s Governing Council and by our own PSA Board of Governors. We have gone too long thinking that the world revolves around figure skating. In Minnesota, woman’s hockey has replaced figure skating as the ice sport of choice for many of young girls. Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois have lost many skaters to hockey as well. In 1992 USA Hockey had 10,000 girls registered; by 2009 they had registered over 59,500! While ISI and Basic Skills have been trading skaters, USA Hockey has been siphoning our girls off at an alarming rate. Adding to that the drop in enrolment at the novice/grade 9 level you can see why many coaches and clubs are struggling.
We need to keep those girls in the sport. We need to continue to work hard to improve the image of our sport and the profession of coaching. Having a professional membership, liability insurance, a criminal background check, continuing education, ratings or rankings should be considered a marketing tool; not a punishment! In today’s market, to be competitive we must be the very best.

"Nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Wisdom of Wooden

July/August 2010

On June 4, 2010, the world’s greatest coach died at the age of 99. “Quietly, with dignity, as if the Lord had personally and gently embraced and carried his spirit away”, said close personal friend and co-author of several of John Wooden’s 10 books, Steve Jamison. “Coach,” as he was referred to by most, was not a figure skating teacher but the legendary basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins. Among his achievements included 10 NCAA Championships, a winning streak of 88 games that spanned three seasons and the President’s Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor America can bestow.
I knew of John Wooden, just as most sports fans would; a reference quoted by a TV or radio commentator to one of his many “Woodenisms” like, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” It wasn’t until just before his death however, when Tom Zakrajsek presented his keynote address at the annual PSA Conference in Colorado Springs, that I was really enlightened. Tom talked a lot about reading and self improvement. He quoted John Wooden often and at one point, showed John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. The Coaches Pyramid is reprinted in the center of this magazine, and a more detailed version can be found at
Curiosity over John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success and Tom’s words drove me to Wooden’s official website. The Pyramid of Success is made up of 15 blocks; from Enthusiasm to Competitive Greatness. On the website you can “open” each block and get a detailed explanation and commentary. Ironically, the first block I opened up was “Self Control,” something that I struggled with as a competitor, performer, coach, and even as Executive Director. Wooden describes the difficulty of getting to the “top” and staying there and in his own experiences, “…both getting there and staying there present unique and formable challenges.” Both necessitate self control. For someone to achieve greatness, a mastery of your emotions and discipline is vital. Coach Wooden was careful not to engage in pregame pep talks that would spike his players’ emotions. Those peaks make it difficult for players to control their actions leading to lackadaisical play and mistakes. Coach goes on to say that for “every contrived peak you create, there is a subsequent valley...Self-control provides emotional stability and fewer valleys.” An easy comparison is this year’s Coach of the Year, Frank Carroll. Mr. Carroll has said that it is important not to overwhelm a skater at the gate prior to their program. Generally, he portrays a calming demeanor, with positive phrases and almost no technical advice. Like John Wooden, Frank prefers “controlled focus and directed energy.”
Surfing through Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, it’s easy to see his influence on Tom Zakrajsek, Frank Carroll, and most probably, all teachers and coaches. I have picked my ten favorite “Woodenisms,” many of which you may have heard before…all are inspirational. When you get a chance, check out his website or the next time you’re in a book store, check out one of his books.

1. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
2. “You can’t let praise or criticisms get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
3. “Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character.”
4. “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”
5. “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
6. “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”
7. “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
8. “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
9. “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
10. “Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” v