In roller figure skating—as in life—the path to success is shaped by one’s direction, focus, and control. Learning to navigate figures is a great starting place for both. Maneuvering those painted curves, loops, and serpentines enhances skaters’ accuracy and edge control, preparing them for the imaginary lines they’ll draw on their own later.
Figures also introduce an individual to the rewarding rigors of roller skating. The comprehensive physical benefits include building excellent coordination, strength, and flexibility. Yet well beyond these roller figure skating also teaches focus, teamwork, and even responsibility.
“It’s really about personal development,” says Skating School founder Anthony Berger. “Our goal is to develop each person and make them more aware of their surroundings.”
The results can be nothing short of transforming. Just ask Tammy Reath, who recalls the challenges facing her daughter, Hayley, when the then eight-year-old first came to Skating School.
“She wasn’t real coordinated, and doctors said she needed something to improve gross motor skills,” says Reath, citing complications at Hayley’s birth. “She was sort of introverted, didn’t have a lot of self-esteem. She lacked confidence.” Also according to Reath, Hayley’s father, now deceased, suffered from alcoholism and other medical problems resulting in a stressful home environment riddled with negativity and verbal abuse. Young Hayley struggled at school as a result, finding it hard to focus. “She wanted to quit in the second grade,” remembers her mother. “That’s how bad it was.”
As Hayley’s roller skating skills grew, so too did her confidence. “She just developed so incredibly,” says Reath. “It increased everything in her body. She not only became very coordinated, but it built up her self-esteem as well…She blossomed like the ugly duckling into the beautiful swan, all from the positivity that Coach Tony kept giving her.”
Even Hayley’s grades improved. Remarking on the dramatic change some time later, a teacher told Reath, “Whatever she’s doing, keep it up.” Today, Hayley is a responsible and successful 21-year-old college student handling rigorous coursework in forensic science. She’s also working her way through school, as a skating carhop at a Sonic drive-in.
“If Hayley hadn’t gotten involved in skating, I really don’t know that she would be where she is now,” says Reath. “It changed the path of her whole future.”
Known as Coach Tony to his many students, Berger is among only a dozen or so full-time roller skating coaches in the country. Each of these passionate professionals shares their expertise with skaters ranging in age from toddlers to seniors. And for the Skating School team, growth is measured in the success of their students, both on the rink and off.
“This is what I do,” says Berger. “I love this more than anything.”