Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Callaghan Thinks Outside the (Coaching) Box for Meissner

To follow former World Champion Kimmie Meissner at all is to know she made a change, pronto, following her dismal 7th place finish at U.S. Nationals last January.

She went to Richard Callaghan… who’d just relocated to Florida… so, then, did she.

She got through Worlds.

Then what?

The answer, as you might already know if you follow my fellow bloggers, is found in
this impressively long Washington Post article that ran Wednesday. There’s quite a bit of interesting stuff—I was particularly tickled at the idea of Todd Eldredge as Callaghan’s sidekick—but one tidbit caught my eye more than the rest:

Suddenly, renowned coach Richard Callaghan, who has been tutoring Meissner in this affluent South Florida community for just over six months, burst from the coaching box and skated across the ice. Retired skater Todd Eldredge, a six-time national champion and longtime Callaghan student who has become his coaching sidekick, followed…

After the session, as Meissner unlaced her skates -- and Callaghan and Eldredge resumed an animated discussion of her program -- she noted that, at her previous training home at the
University of Delaware Figure Skating Club, no coach ever stepped on the ice to teach during workouts. It simply was not done.


I can’t imagine such a thing. With the exception of Mrs. Engstrom – who was my off-ice ballet instructor first and came to the rink only occasionally—I can’t think of a single coach that didn’t get out there with the students. Maybe they didn’t chase me or my fellow skaters around a la Eldredge (which—shame on me—sounds kind of fun all by itself), but they got their skates and their big fluffy down coats and their Styrofoam cups of bad coffee and they followed us around. Sure, once in a while they hopped up on the boards to observe, but it never lasted for long. Like the kids they taught, they were restless. It was a big ol’ frozen dance floor out there, even when everyone was working their hardest. How could anyone who loved the sport that much keep still? (At any age, I might add… for we had our share of coaches in their 50s and possibly beyond!)

Has something changed over the past 25 years that I’m unaware of? A perceived need for distance between coach and student? Or some sort of legal issues? I hope the U of Delaware FSC thing is an anomaly. It can be lonely enough at times, out there on the ice, without having someone older and wiser by your side. Literally.

Clip of the Day shows Meissner’s early greatness at the 2006 World Championships. Here’s hoping the Florida sun will shine on her throughout the season to come.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

Can I go practice where Meissner skates? I used to WISH my coach would go sit down.