Rink to Rink to Rink


Well, the fall schedule is underway. What this means to me and many coaches I work with is that, instead of commuting to one rink, we take our show on the road to several different rinks to get ice time and, often, multiple rinks in one day. I actually enjoy the change of scenery and the different set of faces in each location. Besides, it’s nice how the car ride in between provides a break longer than an ice cut, and a respite from the sound of my own voice. The problem is that the more places you have to be, the more logistics and complications you have to contend with. Over the years, I’ve been trying to streamline my schlep, or at least make it more entertaining. Here’s what I’ve found so far:   

Transporting Tools of the Trade: Have you ever seen the clown act where he’s trying to carry an armful of balls? Every time he drops one and picks it up, another one falls and bounces away, culminating eventually in a maniacal juggling act. Until recently, this was pretty much my method of transport across rink parking lots around the county. Instead of colorful circus balls, I was juggling skates, rulebook, schedule, invoices, stereo, CDs, video camera, water, snacks, coffee, 15 layers of clothing (including hats, scarves, mittens, etc…)When I realized that this comedy routine was actually costing me lesson time, I knew I had to make some changes. 

The most logical solution I could think of was to sprout a second set of arms. When that didn’t work, I tried to hire a packing mule or a sherpa to help, but all of the ones who came out to do a cost estimate refused to take on such a heavy load. Just when I started to memorize the whole USFS rulebook, so that I could carry at least one less thing around, I remembered that there was a brilliant invention called “the wheel.” I looked around me and noticed that, like our skaters, most of my colleagues already had luggage-type bags with wheels attached and I promptly copied them. This has made a world of difference.  

Easy-Access Footwear: If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve laced and unlaced my skates. Occasionally, a bystander will marvel at how swiftly I do so. For example, like most coaches, I can walk through the rink’s front door 10 minutes after my students and still get on the ice before them. A cartoonist might depict this process as a tornado-like blur of hands, laces, cats, and dogs resulting in a perfect, giftwrap-worthy bow. But just because we’re speed-lacers doesn’t mean we should lace any more than absolutely necessary i.e. for that inferior form of footwear known as shoes. This is why I have switched almost exclusively to slip-ons. The infinite variations on the “clog” available today indicate that many people in our society, other than skating coaches, are interested in cutting this same corner. (By the way, one corner we should not cut is skipping taking off our skates altogether, however tempting. One of my intrepid colleagues put her guards on and drove from one rink to the other wearing her skates. Suffice it to say, this is not something she now recommends.) 

Multitasking is Key: Thanks to the cell phone and of course hands-free technology, my car now serves as an efficient office on wheels. I check my voicemail, schedule lessons, field cancellations then try to reschedule lessons. Lots of coaches I know listen to music for programs while on the road. I’ve found, however, that it’s not a good idea to try and cut programs or choreograph them while driving, unless you’re stopped at a red light.

{I don’t know why this font is smaller!} Most importantly, I have embraced my car as the dining room that it is. I probably eat more meals in mine than I do in my house. I think I’m going to get a chandelier installed just to classy up the joint. Truth be told, the menu at this restaurant is hardly tantalizing. Name a basic finger food, and I’ve noshed on it while racing from one town to another: carrots, apples, grapes, and a whole myriad of nuts. I’ve purchased and devoured every variety of trail mix and nutrition bar sold on the east coast. Even if it’s not decadent, a small repast does nourish me and perks me up for the next round of lessons. In this way, I can convince myself that my mid-shift drive (even if it consists of dreaded bumper to bumper traffic) is not really a “commute,” but, more euphemistically, “snack time.”   

Celebrate the Tax Break: It’s nice that rink to rink mileage is a tax write off, especially in light of current gas prices. I could just celebrate this every April 15, but I choose to watch my odometer all year, as closely as I used to watch the fireplace for Santa’s arrival at Christmas: each time it flips to a new number, I emit a little “woo hoo!” as if I’ve just received a little gift.

While I feel that I’ve made great progress in the above areas, I’m certainly open to any Rink to Rink suggestions you may have. Share your own experiences or observations by clicking on “comment” below. I’ll be posting something new every Tuesday (at least), so check back for further installments.     

Coming up: This Sunday, I will be getting in my car/office/dining room and driving to Stamford, CT, for a PSA Nationwide Seminar. I will report on my revelations HERE. 

Happy travels. And remember, laughter is the best (sports) medicine.      





  1. jocelyn · September 14, 2007

    This is awesome. We have not laughed so hard in ages – at least since we last saw you. Have you tried a smoothie in a camel back? Hell to clean up but hands free when driving.
    Can’t wait for the next entry. I have been wondering how to break in those new skates of mine.

  2. J. Walker · September 14, 2007

    Enjoyed the blog. Will check in again.

  3. Alan · September 14, 2007

    “Current Skate of Mind” is the best title ever.

    By the way, a “car/office” is technically a “coffice.”

    Consider that one a freebie.

  4. John · September 14, 2007

    My fave: Driving into Rink A while realizing I’m supposed to be at Rink B.

  5. sarah z · September 14, 2007

    it’s fabulous to finally see some of your writing! i’m sitting in my school’s computer lab just laughing out loud. no one would understand why even if i tried to explain the life-encompassing skater addiction/ lifestyle that you capture so well! this is pretty inspiring for me, in the skating and the writing sense… both of which i’m trying to keep up with!
    thanks for sharing, have fun at your seminar!

  6. Jesse · September 15, 2007

    This is hilarious! Great job Jocelyn, I will look forward to more entries.

  7. Sandra · September 19, 2007

    Hey, I’m free this weekend if you want to go chandelier shopping.

    What a riot!

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