I just returned from Louisville, Kentucky where I time-travelled back to the future. I was asked to come look after Kelley and Donny Adair's ice dance teams while they took her father to France for a vacation he had always dreamed about. When Kelley contacted me to ask me to come teach their teams, I was, of course, honored and there was no question I would clear my schedule to help them out.
Donny, along with his partner Renee Roca, were one of my senior national champions and I would do anything to help him. It turned out that 1986 was a fabulous year for these U.S. Champion ice dancers. See Championship Program
When Donny and Kelley asked me to travel to Louisville I said, "You know, I don't really do dance much anymore". They laughed and responded, "We think you can handle it!"
Of course I was only to happy to work with their teams. When I got there and we got down to working on the ice, I shared some of the aspects about ice dancers of today that I thought we might focus upon, challenge and perhaps even enhance. They were open to all of my exercises and techniques. These exercises are designed to improve upon line, speed and extension. They take a lot of practice and a true commitment to work on over time. This is hard work. Perhaps many of them, like Max Aaron, were happy to see me get on the plane to leave! But all kidding aside, they understood how my intensity as a coach has taken many skaters of all three disciplines to national titles. I don't know that they necessarily liked my intensity but they gave no complaints.
The greatest gift to any teacher is when the student becomes the teacher. In this instance Kelley and Donny Adair did not disappoint. I was astounded at the quality of all of their ice dance teams. They had beautiful technique coupled with a serious work ethic and the willingness to be inspired by a teacher who had helped make their teacher a U.S. National Champion and World Team Member.
Being a teacher is an unselfish act. It reminds me of an article I wrote a few years back, "To Be a Selfish or Unselfish Choreographer: That is the Question." In order to be successful at an elite level a coach must inspire a burning desire inside of the students to excel. It is not about the coach or the choreographer but all about the internal motivation of the skater performing for the audience. Read Article
I often say to my skaters, "This choreography is for you, not for me."
The session is over and the Zamboni is coming out.