I wrote the following statement in the article:
"It has been reported that right here in Colorado Springs that sometimes employees, coaches, and parents at some of the ice arenas have directly suggested to certain skaters that the coach they have chosen is not adequate. THIS IS SOLICITING and is a direct violation of PSA Ethics."
I have been asked if there really was an actual instance that I described the involved an employee at an ice rink in Colorado Springs.
The answer to that question is YES. I know the situation well because I was the coach who was hurt. I was the coach that lost a student because a rink did the soliciting for two coaches who did some team-teaching together at the time.
The situation happened about six years ago, so I think it is safe to tell my story publicly since it is just a memory and no longer an issue.
A boy from my son's homeschool scout troop had begun group lessons at one of the rinks in Colorado Springs. The boy loved to skate, but his mother told me he couldn't afford to skate or take private lessons. She told me that she wished more than anything to give her son the gift of ice skating.
I came up with an idea. I thought he'd make a good figure skating training companion for my children.
The boy showed some natural talent,, but too old for singles, so I offered to teach the boy ice dancing at at discount rate and found him an ice dance partner. We set up a schedule. The boy and his new ice dance partner would skate every day with me and my children. I would teach them all together; everyone would benefit and have fun.
I was really excited. I thought I'd have three young ice dance teams (this boy and the girl I matched him with that was a friend of my daughter Rebekah), Rebekah and Joel, and Annabelle and our close friend Sam.
What I didn't know was that the rink where the boy was taking learn to skate classes had noticed the boy's talent and love of skating. The skating school director had also noticed. She also knew the boy was too old for singles, but had potential as an ice dancer. She also had been told by the mother that the boy could not afford ice time or private lessons.
I did notice, for a moment, that the skating director of that rink was spending a lot of time talking to the boy's mother in the stands. I had a feeling that she may have been asking the mother about lessons for her son, which is common when kids are in learn to skate.
Only a few days after everything was arranged and set, I received a call from the boy's mother.
She told me that the ice arena had given the boy an "offer that they could not possibly refuse." She explained that although my offer to coach her son at a discount rate was a good one, there was no way her family could pass up what the rink had offered. In fact, no one could pass up what the boy had been offered!
Here's what he had been offered by the rink:
- Free ice time on all of the rink's figure skating and public sessions.
- A quiet and private place in the arena for the boy to do his homeschool studies.
- Two of the best ice dance coaches in the rink had offered to give the boy free private lessons and turn him into a competitive ice dancer.
- One of the coaches in the rink offered to pay for the boy's boots and blades so he would have the best possible equipment.
- A part-time job at the rink.
I was upset, but I wished the family well. I knew I would eventually get over having a skating student I really wanted to teach being solicited away by an ice rink.
I did take the time to call the rink's skating director. I told her that the boy had only been my private lesson student for a short time, but I would have appreciated being consulted before they had made an offer like this to the boy and his family.
The coaches involved were not only friends of mine, but people I looked up to. I do not think that they were aware that I was already teaching the boy, so I did not file a grievance with PSA, but I knew then and I know now that this is an obvious and blatant example of 3rd party soliciting.
I am writing this story out now because I think that everyone in figure skating should be aware that soliciting does not always happen directly. Outside parties can do the soliciting for figure skating coaches. In this instance, the rink did the soliciting and they did the soliciting in a big way.