Four Years Later – My Journey as a Competitive Adult Figure Skater, Including Five Key Lessons

Former award winner and young skater Katelyn Mitchell of the Central Carolina Skating Club presenting me with a “Get Up Champion” award.

Just before turning 59 years old, I made a major decision which has greatly impacted my life for the good. As a passionate figure skating fan, I decided that I actually wanted to get off the couch and try skating for myself. (See my blog I wrote back then – “Finding a new passion at age 59.”) I bought skates, secured a coach, and began this journey. And it has given me tremendous joy.

And now I look back. Recently at my local figure skating club (The Central Carolina Skating Club) meeting, I was presented one of the inaugural “Get Up Champions” Awards processed through US Figure Skating. I was so touched by the write up my club’s officers submitted:

On behalf of the Central Carolina Skating Club Board of Governors, I nominate Stanley Kimer as a Get Up Champion. Stan is a relative newcomer to skating and our skating club, but he brings so much to the sport! It’s truly inspiring to see how he faces this challenging sport with humor, intelligence and outright joy.

I do love to entertain people while on the ice, including stripping down to a tank top to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.”

Paula McKinley (my coach) and he create skating routines that can make even a curmudgeon smile – the joy of skating and entertaining people shines through brightly. The kids welcome him when he participates in summer camp or Bridge classes with them. One little girl told me that she thinks he’s the hardest-working skater on the ice because ‘it’s so hard for him to skate!’

It’s true: skating is hard, and the ice is hard, which resulted in a fractured hip back in 2016, causing him to withdraw from the Peach Open Adult competition and delaying his passing Bronze to compete at Adult Sectionals / Nationals. He’s on the ‘Get Up’ trail again – – no spoilers on his new routine.

Stan’s a ‘lemonade for life’ kind of guy, though: since he couldn’t skate at Nationals in Wake Forest, he volunteered as an ice monitor! He also volunteers at our Club throughout the year and comes to every meeting / award event, when he’s not traveling to watch competitions or attend Champs Camp. We love playing ‘Where’s Stan?’ and finding him in the stands or group photos.

One of his vital contributions to the sport is his blog series on the theme of ‘Get Up.’ He highlighted what most adults face in skating: life gets in the way, sets you back and throws obstacles in your path. As Scott Hamilton says, ‘you just have to get up and keep going.’ Stan definitely gets up twice for every falls he takes.”

I was so honored and truly touched by this marvelous write up. Thank you, Central Carolina Skating Club!

And now for five quick key lessons:

1) Passion! There is nothing more wonderful than pursuing something you are passionate about. Getting on the ice is the favorite part of my day.

There is no place I would rather be than on the ice!

2) Support! A supportive community helps assure success. The Central Carolina Skating Club, the Adult Competitive Figure Skating Facebook group and the US Figure Skating Association are all so supportive of adult skaters, and provide frequent inspiration and assistance.

3) Coaching! Learning a difficult sport (or anything difficult) requires excellent competent teaching and coaching, and I found the perfect coach in Paula McKinley. Read my past blog on the importance of coaching.

4) Hard work! Figure Skating is not easy, especially for an old dude like me. I need to really focus and dedicate myself to the necessary hard work to grow and improve.

5) Commitment! And figure skating is a many year life-long journey. You cannot skate for a few months and then think you know it all. I will likely be learning and growing new skills for the next 20 years. And that excites me.

Again, I thank my blog readers, my coach, my skating club, my skating friends and the US Figure Skating Association for all your encouragement and support along this fantastic journey!

More on Mentoring

In my last blog I wrote about some of the aspects of my July trip to Kenya and Rwanda. I included some comments about mentoring. Then last week I presented a workshop titled “Peer Mentoring for Students and Teachers” at the Gaston County Teaching and Learning Conference.

Mentoring is one of the most powerful yet underrated and underutilized personal development tools. We could all become stronger and more proficient in what we do if we participated more in mentoring relationships. And mentoring can help us develop in many different spheres of our lives – our vocations, volunteer and community work, church work, and even hobbies.

Simply put, mentoring is a pair of individuals working together in order to achieve specific objectives for skills growth and development. The pair consists of an individual who as skill, knowledge and experience (the mentor) that the other individual (mentee or protégé) has a need to acquire. And the mentor also benefits from the relationship in that he or she is growing their leadership and coaching skills.

Traditional and Peer Mentoring: The three young men in the back are community volunteers in Gisenyi, Rwanda who have set up an informal weekend mentoring program with 14 and 15-year-old street orphans to encourage them to stay in school to build a better life. The boy on the left is 15-years-old and often watches out for, mentors and takes care of some of the 14-year-olds.

And there are various types of mentoring relationships:
Traditional – two people of different rank or status where the senior mentors the junior – such as teacher to student or sales manager with a new salesperson.
Peer – where two people of the same rank or status form a mutual mentoring relationship – such as two teachers or two employees in the same job
Reverse mentoring – a new concept where the traditionally junior member of the relationship actually mentors a senior person in an area of life knowledge – such as a student who grew up in a ghetto mentoring a white teacher who has always lived in a suburban middle class environment.

These mentoring relationships can range from structured and scheduled to informal where the mentee occasionally contacts the mentor periodically when he or she needs assistance. And finally, one benefits most by having multiple mentoring relationships addressing various aspects of life and vocational growth at the same time. This is termed as having a “constellation of mentors.”

Feel free to email me at [email protected] if you want me to send you a copy of my mentoring powerpoint presentation.