Selected by the Town of Chelmsford to run the Forum and conduct the youth Learn to Skate program, in a matter of 8 weeks FMC had my 4-year-old going from barely able to stand on skates and falling down every 5 seconds, to skating like the wind and scoring wrap around goals.
OK, so that last part is a bit of a stretch, but in reality at the end of the clinic he was standing up on his own, falling down only 2-3 times per session, and snaking his way through a zig zag course of cones.
The development from class 1 to class 8 was not only impressive, it was near unbelievable.
Classes conveniently located only minutes from my house at the Chelmsford Forum, I went into this experience holding my excitement in check under the pretense that if I started out on the right foot I would be less likely to end up in the news like so many other surly hockey dads before me. The idea behind joining, and with a little push from a volunteer member on the Chelmsford Hockey Association, was a byproduct of my son recently showing an (unhealthy?) interest in NHL hockey ever since I took him to his first professional game last Thanksgiving break.
Mickey Mouse, Chugginton, and Curious George can now only be found on the back of milk cartons. In their place it’s now hockey, hockey, hockey, and just a little bit more hockey. I don’t even exaggerate to get a chuckle out of you, in fact, I wish I was joking. But I’m not, he’s crazy. So, with this newfound obsession in mind, I was curious to see if it would translate to the ice.
The only concern I really had, as mentioned above, was for myself. Would I be one of “those parents?” Maybe it’s because there are camera phones everywhere these days and the reality is parents have always been crazy, but because of this perceived epidemic of overbearing parents at their kid’s sporting events, I really wanted to take a no pressure, hands off approach to this experience.
Aside from being quietly plastered to the plexi-glass like a fly on a windshield, watching as intently as I possibly could with the 1-year-old wreaking havoc in the background, I think I did pretty well for myself.
Classes progressed from learning how to stand up after falling down (in the beginning, falling down is THE ONLY thing they do) to teaching them to keep their balance with arms out and heads up. After that they learned how to move their feet by basically repeating a stepping motion and then worked in some coordination lessons by touching toes, knees and head. Before I could even process what was going on, they were teaching them to take two steps and then “rest their feet” to achieve a gliding effect.
Yes folks, that-there gliding thing is called skating.
I was shocked, proud and giddy. My boy learned to skate in a matter of 8 weeks and I have nothing but thanks and admiration for the program and instructors at FMC Ice Sports – instructors who worked so hard and so well with all of the kids. They even mixed in games, drew fun shapes and letters on the ice with markers, and gave out ribbons to all participants at the end of the clinic.
Yes, ribbons are OK in instructional classes.
If I had one complaint about this experience, it’s the fact that for the last class I had to put on my jacket and leave 91 degree weather to enter the frigid arena.
But this really wasn’t about me, was it?
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 4/21/12.
Information about FMC Ice Sports and the Chelmsford Forum: The Chelmsford Forum is a Town of Chelmsford public ice skating facility, operated by a partnership between the town and FMC Ice Sports that began in 1998. The Forum is a full service indoor ice skating facility dedicated to providing an extensive variety of skating programs for all ages and abilities. The arena features seating for 3,500, a full service pro shop, Master Skate Sharpening by Bill Wheeler, (978) 663-8807, snacks and light fare at the Ice Box Café, birthday party rooms, and heated meeting rooms.