Posted by: trish alexander | September 8, 2010

The key is to

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you,  whose presence calls forth your best.  –Epictetus

I am so excited to tell you this story that I want to start at the end and then end at the beginning but it wouldn’t be telling the story right. Okay, maybe I’ll just say, no I won’t, well, okay, I’ll just tell you this much: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Today I worked with Jeremy LaCivita and Joe Walker who live in Seattle. I put together a small class they wanted which involved technical rotation and skating backwards. (  Both Joe and Jeremy are better skaters than I am, at least in their respective disciplines of urban skating and freestyle slaloms but as I am a technically trained skater I have a fairly easy method for teaching how to break moves down and this is what they were after.

If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.

It was very challenging for me to teach this class. These are my peers and in this instance they wanted to learn something from me.  While I consider them both very good friends (how fortunate am I?) still I was so hesitant about teaching THEM.  Despite wondering if I truly had something to offer, I dove into the issues of teaching rotation (such as backwards outside edge crossbehinds) where everything starts from the head and moves down (head, arms, torso, hips then feet) and backwards such as the lean required for a backwards outside draw.

It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows.

I was so grateful that Jeremy and Joe took the class so seriously… they practiced so hard, asked questions, asked me to demo again and again and the whole time I was watching them thinking, ‘how cool is this?’.   Not cool because I got to teach them, cool that they were working so hard. They might have said once or twice, ‘oh, I do this already,’ but they were also clear that their method was just different enough that they ALSO wanted to learn the method I was teaching.

But a funny thing happened during this class. After about 40 minutes Jeremy hopped onto the slalom line of cones adjacent to our space to help out Doug Persons on a slalom move he was practicing. I then began showing Joe that I sort of, kinda, maybe, might finally have learned the The Block (I am NOT as good as the gal in the video). He effortless goes into the ‘block’ move and then says to me easily, ‘oh, I just go into from ‘crazy.’ And whips off a series of five ‘crazy’ showing me how to insert the ‘block’ each time.  Now I was the student.  I tried it a few times but classes were over and I needed to finish up our class.

Just a short digression: On Friday night at a rink session, Jeremy was working on his spins. Although I made a small suggestion on posture which helped him out measurably, it was really a case of teaching what I couldn’t do. In my pic frames I could do a one-footed spin with about 15 revolutions, including a sit spin but on my current skates I am not there yet.  As such, Jeremy was working on a spin or a series of three different spins which I wasn’t pushing myself to try.

If you wish to be a writer, write.
(or as we would say, If you wish to be a skater, skate)


Since I want to be a skater, two hours after the class with Joe and Jeremy I headed back to the rink because I love to learn and I needed to push myself beyond the wall of fear and lay claim to new moves.  I don’t care that I’m 50 and don’t have health care. With a heaping tablespoon of technique, a pinch of nerve and a pound of belief that I could do it, I would, I will and I can.

I skated for about 20 minutes to the music the DJ played but the music became uninteresting so I moved into the center of the rink and essentially stayed there for an hour. With my heart pounding most of the time (maybe due to the incredible cup of coffee I had at the Pho restaurant) I started to truly learn the block—staying on it until I got it as a simply entry from both the right and the left.  Then trying to remember what Joe showed me about his entry, I worked on crazy in both moving right and moving into from the left, inserting the block each time. I worked on inserting it into the grapevine and then finally tried to figure out ways to insert it into all the other moves I already do.

I don’t know if you get this but going up on my toes while they are facing each other is something that scares me—it’s a wicked balance point because if you miss it you will likely go straight down to the ground without any advanced notice.  It can be the hardest you fall outside of a skate park.

Difficulties are things that show a person what they are.

By now I was so happy I almost couldn’t contain it but I had more work to do and I needed to keep at it.  I needed to work on my spins. I can do a toe-heal spin for about 8 or nine revolutions, maybe 10 so that wasn’t an issue, but the toe-toe spin with them a 140 degree angle to each other is still a bit scary. Toe – Toe spin video

No great thing is created suddenly.

After many, many attempts I managed to do two revolutions on several occasions and then several more with six revolutions.  Hooray.  Lots more work to do, but hooray!

Only the educated are free.

My moves are good enough to You Tube, and they may never be. But they are so fun to practice. Skating is an amazing wonderment of grace, fluidity, stamina and courage. Today I was graced with the desire, finally, to try moves that scared the hell out of me and it happened because two amazing skaters created an atmosphere where I wanted to be better, to be the best I could be.  Technique was called up, we each were teachers, we each learned. And Joe & Jeremy?  They called forth my best. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


  1. Whoa. That block move is wicked. Time to go dig the skates out. And yes, I can see the high probability of face planting while trying to learn the maneuver. Looking forward to your video when you’ve got it seamlessly linked into your freestyle sequences!

    • Uh, just like you to push me into my next goal. Never forget your request that I show you a salcow then an axel. Okay, get the move, video it, it’s only fair and it’s another fun goal. Thank you for having pushed me to my next goal for 13 years. So sorry that you live on the opposite coast. You are amazing and I truly miss you. T

  2. You are absolutely amazing! I live in a small town in Florida and unfortunately have not found people to skate with although all of my skating is outside. I did go to Baltimore in July and had the pleasure of skating with a friend in a beautiful area and it was so uplifiting. So I totally agree with you that being with people who can inspire you is so wonderful. Although my focus is on exercise, I hope to someday be able to visit you in WA and take more lessons. Just the thought inspires me!

    • Donna, so nice to hear from you. I’ll be starting a series of demos on video shortly so that might help and I’ll be traveling the country to offer seminars on taking your skating to the next level, hopefully you can join in! Trish

  3. Very nicely written, Trish!
    I really like this article.

    Thank you!

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