The Questions with Kelly Springer
Kelly is currently in Barcelona Spain for the World Roller Games as part of the Team USA Coaching staff! He started his skating career in 1973, and is still actively involved at the committee, coaching, and racing level.
USARS: You have been involved with skating for a long time, what keeps you in the sport?
KS: Speed Skating is simply one of the most challenging and difficult sports around. You must work very hard just to be an “average” Speed Skater. I would say this challenge is why Speed Skating has been addictive to my life.
USARS: What are some accomplishments you have had in the sport?
KS: After so many years, it is hard to list accomplishments, but I have been a National Champion, National Record Holder and I have competed in many countries around the world including the Downhill World Championships in Italy.
USARS: Do you get more nervous as a coach or a competitor?
KS: I have competed most of my life. I am not sure I can say that racing or coaching created more of a nervous feeling. They both can twist your mind and your stomach at times, but I have to say the nervousness is very different! When you race, you are accountable to yourself for performance, preparation and execution of strategy, so you answer to yourself! It is a different pressure when your athlete looks to you, and if they did everything 100% right, and the fail was leading them in preparation and strategy; you did not let yourself down, you let down an eager mind and soul that trusted you to give them the tools to win!
USARS: What is your favorite competition?
KS: There are so many amazing events around the world all with individual assets that separate them from others. Here in the USA, I always come back to the Northshore Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. First, it has been the largest roller race in the USA since its inception. This event allows you to close out the season with a documented time on an unchanging event from year to year. You have the ability to gauge your performance from year to year. For the most part it is an even comparison. There are weather variables that can have an effect on your finish time, but you still have the ability to compare your performance to other individuals too. If there is a bad head wind and you finish two minutes slower, but match time with someone that beat you the year before; you can still establish a valid comparison to the previous year.
USARS: What roll are you most actively involved with currently?
KS: Although I have had to step into every roll on the list from time to time, at this point I choose to focus on coaching. There was a time that I attempted to coach and skate myself, and it took me some time to realize the value of removing myself from the pack to have more impact on the training and teaching of the athletes. Last season and this season I have served as co-chairperson on the speed committee, served as a member of the USA Team Staff as well as my usual positions leading Synergy Speed Skating as Head Coach and Owner/Operator of CadoMotus USA, Inc. I am proud to have seen my children achieve success in the sport as I have.
USARS: What is the best thing about the sport?
KS: As I mentioned earlier, this sport ranks among the most difficult to achieve success in. Although there are “teams,” and at times in a relay event you compete with a “team”; every time you race the spotlight is on you! You fly or fall in public with no one else to ease the pain of poor performance in that spotlight! In a true team sport, you can be average, but the above average team can mask your average abilities. The fact that it is hard to succeed, and the fact that you stand alone in your performance means that for every success as an athlete you may experience 10 failures! So, to answer your question, this sport instills life skills that make you a better person in sports, school, relationships and every aspect of life! You learn how to fail, learn and do it again! You learn persistence and perseverance! You learn how to deal with negativity personally without letting it explode publicly! You learn sportsmanship and how to communicate and work with others you also compete against! You learn valuable social skills and understanding of various cultures through your travels. I could go on and on, but in our sport, you learn life skills that cannot be attained by any other method!
USARS: What is it missing?
KS: In our country, Speed Skating is missing public awareness! This is not a failure by any of us in the sport! This is simply the result of a large menu of activities across this amazing country! Our countries focus on sports is those top sports we see on TV or the sports supported by the education system. In addition to those, there are countless other sporting activities that are in the same situation as we are. We are exciting, physically demanding and addictive once introduced to Speed Skating, but that menu of sports is so large that we are often overlooked.
USARS: What do you like to do outside of skating?
KS: Share in my family’s successes through their kids, work and other activities. When I leave this life, my greatest contribution to society is leaving some amazing family behind. This is my passion outside of skating.
USARS: What is your favorite meal? Song? Movie? Color? Book? Podcast?
KS: I could never identify favorites. I am very go-with-the-flow, and I enjoy almost anything that comes my way!
USARS: What advice do you have for a new coach?
KS: I have made it one of my top priorities in this sport to mentor and recruit new coaches/teachers to build this sport long after I am gone! The most important advice I give them is, “the skaters and parents do not care how much you know until they know how much you care”!
USARS: Can sport psychology make or break an athlete?
KS: It is almost a prerequisite for a coach to have some type of psychology background! This is not only useful in working with the athletes, but often makes it possible to work with parents to make sure everyone is going the same direction! First, each athlete has their own hot button that makes them skate and makes them want to succeed. Some like the awards, some like the other boys/girls, some strive to accomplish things they did not believe they could, other just like to hear the oooooohs and aaaaaahs out of the crowd as they perform. Each of the motivators require a different psychological approach, and your student will never reach their potential if you cannot find a way to appeal to this need! Yes, sports psychology and a teacher’s use of basic psychology can make or break an athlete.
USARS: How do you manage nerves?
KS: Every athlete must care about their performance. This means that nerves are natural issues to deal with, as you will always get nervous if you truly care about your performance. I believe that it is important to remember that this is still a sport designed to have fun with. If you place the importance of having fun over the importance of your performance, it will settle your nerves!
USARS: Everyone is busy, how do you fit it all in?
KS: I am asked this question every day! The answer is, I have no idea how I accomplish all that I accomplish!
USARS: Do you like the smell of Roll On?
KS: Always! The smell sets off the love for a tight floor, the love of a fast corner and the love of speed skating in every way!
USARS: What motivates you?
KS: There are not words to express how awesome it feels to help someone achieve a personal best or accomplish a task they did not believe they could accomplish themselves! My skaters will tell you that I get just as much joy out seeing a new skater cross into the corner for the first time as I do when I stand side by side with an athlete that just won a World Championship! My athlete’s success motivates me.
The Questions with Jay Ingram
Current Coach and previous Speed Committee Chair, Team Staff, and Athlete, Jay Ingram took some time to answer The Questions! We want to send out a big THANK YOU to Jay for his time as the Speed Committee Chair in 2017 and 2018. How long have you been involved with speed skating?
- Skating, most of my life
- Speed skating since 1977.
What keeps you in the sport?
The love of the sport, the people, the health benefits.
What are some accomplishments you have had in the sport?
As a coach: Getting athletes fast at all levels, for some just getting them to feel comfortable skating and in becoming healthier. Right now, I am enjoying very much working with my elite and advanced athletes while at the same time teaching many at all ages just to stand up and skate. That was a major accomplishment this past Christmas Holiday, a much enjoyable one.
As an athlete: State Champion when that meant something. You had to place 1st through 3rd in all events at the State Championships to make it to regionals, anything else, you stayed home or were spectating the regional championships. Multi times throughout three decades Regional Champion as well as overall nine-time individual National Champion in division. Becoming a coach, demonstrating, then eventually coaching at USARS Clinics, being hired in as USARS Speed and Artistic Sports director, several times USARS World Team Coach and several time USARS World Team Manager from 2000 to present., selection to USARS Speed Committe in the late 90ss, early 2000s with applying to USARS Speed Committee in 2016 and being accepted to it in the fall of that year. Chairperson of USARS Speed Committee elected to that position by other members from the committee in 2017, 2018.
Do you get more nervous as a coach or a competitor? I did both at the same time at all levels except World Championships, in doing so the nervousness would cancel each other out, eventually I really did not care about how I felt, but more about my athletes and what they wanted and needed. My nail biting has become worse since I stopped competing and am just helping my athletes and others accomplish their goals.
What is your favorite competition? In this Great Country the USARS Nationals Championships indoors and out. The reason - because both are the beginning or the end of other great avenues for athletes, their parents, and coaches. Internationally, Arena Geisingen International, It is one of the biggest, if not the biggest International Banked track events in the World. It is often times on par, if not above the World Championships. However, there ALL athletes can compete in all races. Compared to coaching at and managing at the World Championships, this is SOOOO very relaxing LOL.
What is the best thing about the sport?
- The people, the passion, the relationships created that are still strong over the decades
What is it missing? I guess Olympic status? I figure then the rest of the world and other sports would know what we all already know about how amazing this sport is.
What do you like to do outside of skating? Travel, and be with family while traveling.
What is your favorite meal? Song? Movie? Color? Book? Podcast?
- Olgas Kitchen
- Songs always change
- Empire Strikes Back
- Too many to mention and always adding
Sprinkles or no sprinkles? Depends on my mood
Ketchup or mustard? Both
Coke or Pepsi? Both
McDonald’s or Burger King? Decades ago, both – now, home-cooked burgers.
What advice do you have for a new coach? Hang out with a pyschologist. Seriously, LISTEN, all athletes’ feelings are valid to them within, you need to work with those emotions even if you conquered them or something like it 100 years ago. To those athletes it is right here, right now, like a first kiss or first spoken presentation to a few people or thousands, joy or embarrassment - work through it with your athletes. It could be the difference between them being successful or not.
Within reason do what you do for your athletes, and others, it is about them, without them there is no need for any of this. I say within reason because you can and many have done too much and often get abused in some way or other, I have seen it and I have as well without even seeing it.
How do you manage nerves? FACE IT, admit to it as a competitor so that you are actually competing against the other people on the track, and not the one in your head.
As a coach, depending on the athletes, some want to know and see you are nervous, but always be reassuring, while others, LOL, even though you are, need your confidence with that same reassurance, and knowing you care.
Everyone is busy, how do you fit it all in? I don't, I AM ALWAYS LATE, and when I am not, I am usually missing something or getting to it at 12 a.m., 3 a.m......
Do you like the smell of Roll On? YES, but now at 53, I’m thinking that is a bad thing in SO many ways.
What motivates you? Living, helping others reach their goals, not just in this sport, but in life. I have always stated that this is more than just a sport. I know for many of us it is FAMILY.
Anything else we should know about you? Yes, this sport has some AMAZING HISTORY, I mean books and movies, sitcoms and drama fictional and non-true to life could be made generating some major cashflow with that history. I GIVE credit and PROPS to all the coaches and athletes past and present out there who have inspired a young athlete to be themselves and to be the best they could be. For me, it was George Hook and Jon Long when I was younger. I have not talked to George or seen him since the 70s, but I remember him like many of us who coach do. He would drive me to and or from practices when I could barely go fast and cross. My parents thought I was just skating session at 7 a.m. or 6 p.m. I would walk two miles to the rink, no lie, just to skate a practice. Jon Long, I have reconnected with via Facebook. He is amazed at where the sport is. I was a beginner he coached with about 15 other beginners he obviously inspired me. Chris Heartly, who still skates now and coaches would ride to practice skate and ride back home, he was not our coach, not even a teammate, just a guy who skated practices with us, this was in the 1970s or so, you did not see that back then. Chris was not a national champion, not sure about state or regional, but he was someone we wanted to be, we all wanted to be fast like him, better like him. People road their choppers while smoking back then, LOL. Again, for me as a teenager, it was Virgil and Sue Dooley most people in this sport have heard of them. They have a major connection to so many athletes, clubs and coaches throughout this country who owe what they do to them, myself included. Also in my teens to early twenties and beyond, Mr. Robb Dunn as teammate and my coach, and the person who not only got me to win my first national division title several times, he also purchased my first coaches card for me. Robb, for me and many others on my team back then, a decade or so before I coached was like a god in our sport. Three times in a row he won senior men's overall title, back then that was not an easy task. As a coach, honestly every coach I have come in contact with. PEOPLE really help make us who we are. Jan and Rick Porter - loved these people and miss them both. Renee Hildebrand, what can I say, we have done loads together within this sport. Mark Muse, he's "MARK" - if you know him, you know what I mean. Paul DiJulio, he needs to come back in some form or fashion. Dennis King Senior - so wise - worked with Jan and myself loads - both are missed very much. Ricky Brock - great guy, other than seeing odd things in Colorado Springs LOL. Linda Wood - we were a great team. Wade Newman - not many know him, but he loved this sport. Jenny and BJ Steketee with their village of children. Chris Keesler made me a better coach helping him to become one. Charlie Lucas - I wish I would have known Charlie Lucas two decades back. I mean, I knew of Charlie Lucas, but did not know Charlie Lucas. Jeff Foster, many do not know this, but he can be a softy. I FEEL at the 1994 National Championships, Jeff let me win the start of the 500-meter final. I had better corners and just broke the record twice, but Jeff had the better start and we were not in the heat or semis together, but I knew if I could beat him I would be gone LOL, NO ONE BEAT JEFF FOSTER on a start back then, and he was even tougher to pass. Maybe I am off with this fact in my head, but in either case, it helped secure my first national-overall win. There are many, many, many more coaches and athletes I have worked with and coached who have helped me be me and continue to do so. For the athletes and some coaches, many are really unaware of what they can create or destroy for themselves and others at all levels. In keeping this positive, to which many who know me state I do too much, I have seen inspiration in ways that have lead to a beginner just taking their first crosses, to making it out of regionals, to a national placement, a World Team member to World Champion, Olympic Champion, Dr., lawyer, coach, mother, father, grandparents, Speed/Art Director, rink owner and so on - all due in part to this AMAZING SPORT, and most importantly the people who were and are in it.