Skating Fridays

Ice monitor woes

You all know that I competed in my first competition a few weekends ago. It was also the first time that I volunteered to be an ice monitor for part of the day on Saturday. This position was new to me, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. My duties as an ice monitor were to make sure that the skaters and their coaches were checked in, have them take their practice ice as scheduled, and to make sure that the skaters took the ice in the correct order. Simple enough, right?

Never did I expect to get yelled at and berated during my shift. I had the unfortunate task of trying to calm down the coaches (note that I did not say skaters) when two things went awry during the competition. First, there was a group that had their skating order changed because the girl in the first position forgot her skates at home. She made a request to the event director (and the referee in charge) to see if she could go last since she had to run home and grab her skates. Her request was granted, and the ice monitor was supposed to tell the coaches and skaters about the change. This happened about 5 minutes before my shift started, so I was aware of the change but did not know if the skaters/coaches who had already checked in knew about the change in skate order. Apparently, this did not happen.

When the warm-up was over and the announcer said the (new) first skater’s name, the coach went ballistic. She very promptly came over and yelled at me. I stayed calm and apologized for the situation and said that the skater in the first position had an incident that was cleared by the director and referee in charge. She continued on her tirade and I calmly but firmly told her, “I understand your frustration because I am also a skater and know how stressful this is. However, I don’t think you should be taking your frustration out on me. I am just a volunteer and am telling you what was communicated to me.” She huffed and puffed away and came back at least one more time to vent.

After the event was over, the coach came back and apologized to me. She was actually pretty nice about it and said that she was sorry that she had yelled at me. Regardless, I was still in shock that a coach would act like that.

The second incident happened when the announcer mistakenly called two groups (instead of one) to take their warm-up. Again, the coaches went nuts. At least 3 coaches looked at me and yelled, “You can’t let this happen! This needs to stop!” I ran over to the judges’ area and talked to the referee in charge and said that there was a mistake in the announcement because only one group was supposed to warm up. He acknowledged the error and went to talk to the announcer, but no further communications came out on the PA system. When I returned to the boards, the coaches continued to yell at me. I said that the referee was aware of the error, but they continued to scream. I told them that the skaters in the 2nd group would get another warm-up. Regardless, the coaches continued to yell and complain.

The 2nd group received another warmup as expected, but again, it was another situation where I was the unfortunate scapegoat since I was “connected” to the competition. I left my shift feeling very angry, stressed out and underappreciated.

I know that these situations were anomalies, but it convinced me to not volunteer for this position next year. I am bewildered that grown adults acted this way in front of their skaters. I also saw the dynamics between skaters and their coaches and am elated that the relationship between my coach and I are nothing like that – but in a good way.

The events from my volunteer shift make me sad and embarrassed for our sport. It’s unfortunate that a few sour apples (or coaches, in this instance) left me with such a bad impression from the two hours I was there. Thankfully, most of the coaches that I know do not act like this, so that makes me happy, but I am still convinced that the ice monitor position is not for me. Next year, I’m sticking to something like playing the music CDs so I can stay far, far away from all the drama.


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