Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Thoughts on the Ice Skating Institute and Professional Skaters Association Merger

I began coaching skating on March 1, 1983.  Until then, I had no idea what the ISIA (Ice Skating Institute of America) was about, but I quickly learned.  I came from the competitive figure skating world and only knew of the USFSA (United States Figure Skating Association), now called US Figure Skating.

A few days before my official day of becoming an ice skating "pro," for Ice Capades Chalets, I was told that for part of my "training" that I would judge an ISIA competition.  I had absolutely no experience....but ended up judging that day because I was an accomplished figure skater with two USFSA test gold medals and also because I was a  national competitive skater and medalist.

We judges (skating teaachers) sat on the ice in chairs at the far end of the rink wearing our dark navy blue down Ice Capades coats and froze a bit as we judged event after event for four solid hours (with no break!).

I’d never seen an ISIA competition before. That morning, I judged skaters on one and two foot glides, back wiggles, forward and backward crossovers, edges, bunny hops, three turns, small jumps, spirals, lunges, shoot-the-ducks, and other beginning skating moves.

Ice Skating Institute of America (now called Ice Skating Institute), made it possible for recreational level skaters to compete in competitions. All skaters received awards and ISI judges were and are ice skating coaches.

 As we judged, the rink's skating director explained ISIA rules to me. Some of the skaters struggled with not using their toe picks on forward crossovers. Others couldn’t quite do three turns. Some fell over when they tried to stop.

The hundreds of skaters who competed that day all looked so cute and happy. I was amazed that opportunities like this were available to such low level skaters.

I went on to eventually become an ISI competition director and skating director.  I judged ISI tests and competitions, I organized several ISI competitions, I taught hundreds of skaters using the ISI program, and I became certified as an ISI Gold Judge.  

About a year after I began teaching skating, I joined the PSGA, Professional Skaters Association of America, now PSA, Professoinal Skaters Association.  I remember applying for what I considered then to be a very prestigious figure skating organization.

PSGA coaches "didn't do ISIA." 

PSA coaches taught the competitive USFSA skaters, and that was what I too wanted to do.

Teaching ISI skaters was delightful, but I wanted more than anything to be a "real" figure skating coach, so joining the PSA was a step towards that goal.  

I vaguely remember that not everyone was accepted into the PSGA in "those days," and I was so excited and proud to be accepted as a PSGA member! When the PSGA Magazine arrived, I gobbled up everything I read, and I became more passionate about my chosen profession.

I couldn't wait to become Master Rated since at the time, my gold medals meant I could go right to the Master Rated level.

Sadly, I never was able to afford to go to a national Professional Skaters Association conference in my early coaching days, so I never did get to achieve my goal of being a Master Rated coach since the exams were given only at the national conference, but because my rink manager wanted me, his skating director, to attend the ISI Conference, I did get to go to what I remember was a very great national event where I got to mingle with skating directors and rink managers.

What always was clear "back then" was that the ISI and the PSA did not mix. 

The agenda at PSA workshops was geared towards higher level skaters and ISI workshops were for what seemed to be the hard working skating instructors who cared about learning how to teach forward crossovers, two foot glides, dips, and snowplow stops.

Now that the ISI and PSA have announced a merger, I am totally fascinated and flabbergasted!  

A certain coaching friend of mine had the following to say regarding the news:

 "Definitely a sign of the apocalypse!" 

In other words...apples and oranges just don't mix!

This is only my opinion....it will be interesting to see how skating will change.

One thing for sure, it will be great for many skating coaches to not have to pay dues to two organizations and maybe the cost of coaching liability insurance will become more reasonable and maybe ISI skating teachers will feel more comfortable at PSA workshops and maybe those who don't admit they only teach learn to skate levels won't feel foolish because there will be learning opportunities on how to teach three-turns and waltz jumps instead of just double and triple loops and junior moves in the field?

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