Ice Dream: Profile of Skating Coach Lauren Keely

Ice skating has been Lauren Keely’s passion since the age of three, when her father flooded their backyard to turn it into an ice rink. She still holds in her mind’s eye the magical morning with the sun shining and icicles hanging from apple trees - the morning her parents gave her her first pair of ice skates. Lauren’s fondest memories are of following her father around frozen ponds and lakes near Boston for what seemed like miles. At the public rink, she imitated what other skaters were doing and, when Lauren was eight, a rink instructor began taking her aside to give her pointers. In college, Lauren took skating classes, and it was there she developed her double jumps. She continued to skate and train until marriage and motherhood led her to put skating aside. Eventually Lauren moved to Oklahoma City to train and work as an air traffic controller, and when her son transitioned from elementary to middle school 11 years ago she decided it was a good time to return to the ice. She was surprised it was something she could still do, “still grow it and lo and behold, I could teach it to others.” She’d thought skating was something that was just a happy memory. Lauren is now a professional ice skating coach at Blazers Ice Centre in Oklahoma City. She coaches figure skaters and hockey players from ages four to adult, competitive and non-competitive. Lauren has found “in this sport you can be any age, of any skill level, and there’s something for you.” Whether it’s to come to the rink and just stroke around once in a while, or it’s to come and work diligently toward accomplishing a goal or task, or accomplishing a jump, Lauren emphasizes there is something for everybody in ice skating.
©Lyann Valadez

©Lyann Valadez

Lauren currently has about 25 students and points out that with that many students she has to find that many ways to teach one skill. “It’s never boring, it’s always exciting and it keeps me on my toes.”  In the course of a Saturday, Lauren might have seven hours of lessons in 30-minute or one-hour increments. Lauren states, “The technique never changes, but we all learn differently and the explanation needs to be specific to a skater’s skills, not only the physicality, but the way they learn.”

©Lyann Valadez

According to Lauren, children develop real life skills from skating. She states “they come to understand we take a lot of falls in life, you don’t give up when it gets hard, and when you fall you get up, dust yourself off and keep going.” But no matter what age her skaters are, Lauren sees her job as helping them be the best they can be. Lauren points out that many adults are finding their way to the ice, and while understanding “we have to be realistic about what our best is,” Lauren wants people to feel they can set a goal and work towards it and she doesn’t treat adults any differently than children in that respect. Lauren’s students testify to the truth of that statement, and one student in particular. Lindy Delacruz, 22, is Lauren’s newest adult student and nanny to 2 girls who have been training with Lauren for over a year.  When Lindy decided she wanted to learn to skate, Lauren was the natural choice for a coach. What Lindy likes most about working with Lauren is “she knows where I’m coming from – she explains things before I even ask her.” Lindy thought she would begin skating by holding on to the wall around the ice, but Lauren had Lindy out on the ice immediately. “It was really fast! Lauren pushes me. She’s good at encouragement.”
Lauren and Lindy - the beginning ©Lyann Valadez

Lauren and Lindy - the beginning
©Lyann Valadez

Lauren points out that adults are more analytical than the children about how things work, and what could happen if things don’t go as planned. Happily, she also points out that she believes the expectation for adult skaters is growing. While she knows she can explain skating differently to an adult than she would to a child, “I don’t look at someone as an adult; I try to look at us as we’re all skaters.” One of Lauren’s goals is to have people know that Blazer’s is a good place to bring their children, where people care and where joy can be found. She knows from experience that skaters are welcoming anywhere, and tells people who are moving to go to a rink. “The ice doesn’t care where you came from, what language you speak, whether you’re right handed or left handed. It doesn’t matter.” You will find a home at an ice rink, as well as people who will encourage you. Thinking back to her childhood and the idyllic first moment she stepped onto the ice, Lauren states she still finds that “joy of the glide” every time she steps on the ice at Blazer’s. “The glide never disappoints, it’s always there waiting. Some days, it’s not our best performance, but the glide is always there.”
Lauren Keely: “I’m still a skater. Still teaching it, still loving it, still looking for the glide.” ©Lyann Valadez

Lauren Keely: “I’m still a skater. Still teaching it, still loving it, still looking for the glide.”
©Lyann Valadez

                     

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