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Thread: Skating Money or College Money

  1. #1
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    Skating Money or College Money

    I'm at a crossroads right now with my daughter. She loves to ice skate and is a pretty good skater skating at Intermediate Level and usually, usually places at the top of her flight.

    These thoughts have been keeping me up at night lately: 1) She's still not consistent with the important jumps -- double lutz, double flip, double axel. She's had the double axel almost a year now and can land it usually during practice, but at competitions forget it. 2) I spend over a thousand a month for her skating. 3) I haven't saved much ($3,000) for college expenses. 4) She will be graduating in 4 years.

    After regionals this year, if she completely blows it like she has been lately, I'm thinking about pulling her out of skating. I'm not going to say anything before regionals of course because she doesn't need the added pressure. My husband disagrees and thinks we should put "it" off for a few more years. Meanwhile, I'm writing check after check after check, driving from one side of town to the other, for basically an over-priced, all time-consuming sport.

    Have any of you parents ever finally put your foot down or thought about it and said enough is enough? I really can't talk to the other moms about this because I've found out they are really a bunch of gossips and I don't need everybody talking.

    Don't get me wrong, my kid doesn't cry in the locker room like other girls when she screws up. It's almost like she doesn't want to win because does some pretty unusual things and is very unpredictable. I know it's nerves but how comes the other girls' nerves don't show? I don't think I put too much pressure on her but I do feel like leaving her at the rink after a bad skate.

    Thanks for letting me unload.

  2. #2
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    I could hardly believe my eyes when I read your post. I don't know whether you meant it, but what you are saying is that what matters to you is that your daughter wins her competitions, not that she is having fun, taking exercise, and participating in one of the truly great sports! You couldn't have meant that, surely? Surely, surely, surely, please tell me that what matters to you is your daughter's happiness, her love for the sport, her joy in it, whether she never wins another competition in her life.

    By all means talk to your daughter about whether she should continue or not, but please don't threaten her with no more funding unless she starts winning competitions again. No young woman needs that kind of pressure, especially not from her own mother, to whom she should be able to look for unconditional love and acceptance and enormous pride, not "You don't measure up to my standards, so you can't do this any more", which is what she will hear unless you are very, very careful.

    If her skating is truly too expensive for you, with college coming up, then tell her so. But leave her ability or lack of it out of it. If she really wants to go on skating, you can discuss ways and means - perhaps she could give up something else, or is she old enough for a Saturday job, to help fund it? Don't they give athletic scholarships to colleges in the USA? There must be ways and means - maybe she could train to teach skating in her spare time.....

    Of course, if she says "Oh, thank goodness, I was only skating because I thought you wanted me to, can I stop now!" that's another story altogether.... but let her be the one to decide whether or not she wants to stop.....

  3. #3
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    Mrs Redboots,

    Thanks for your input. You're right about me wanting her to win at these local competitions, and why not? She used to be really good when she was younger, but now a little "above average." Is it wise for me to keep pouring in all this money when she obviously will never be an elite skater and have a career in it? I know I'm not the only parent who thinks this way. Why else would some parents pull their kids out of school to have them home schooled so they'll get better practice ice at the rink. It breaks my heart to think of her not skating anymore, but she's not a little girl. Soon she'll be finishing high school and then guess what? We didn't save enough for college because we blew what we could have saved for her college, and her sister's, on her skating. I just feel that I am being irresponsible as a parent to do what's right and what's ultimately important in life -- a good education, and maybe not a childhood filled with an expensive hobby.

    There are always other sports at school that she could get interested in. I tried to encourage tennis or volleyball, but skating takes up way too much time.

    This is an important issue right now in my life and it's not just because she's not winning all the time like she used to.

  4. #4
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    ...But what you're saying is, if she does start winning again, then it's okay for her to not have money for college. You said yourself that she's not going to be an elite skater; so how would it be that different even if she did start winning more at local comps? The end result is still the same.

    I think Mrs. Redboots has it right---talk to her about the finances, & don't bring her ability into it. I see no reason why she would have to quit altogether; some (lots!) kids I know can't afford to compete, or have lessons every day, but still skate & test. Also, just because she's not going to be an elite skater doesn't mean she couldn't be a fantastic coach.

    In my mind, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Cut back on the expenditures, cut down the lesson time, encourage her to work at the rink or another job to help fund part of it herself, but let her keep skating if she wants to. The competitive track is not the be-all & end-all of the sport. Maybe she could just do 1 or 2 comps a year. There are ways around spending so much.

  5. #5
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    The thing about skating is that it is for life. You don't have to give up when you go to college (although lots of kids do). I know someone who is nearer 80 than 70, who wins every competition she enters - although, to be fair, she says she no longer takes skating seriously and only enters artistic/interpretive competitions.

    If money is being a problem, then by all means cut back on your daughter's competitions - but whatever you do, don't link it to her ability. You know what kids are, no matter how careful you are, what she'll hear is: "You aren't good enough to please me!" which is not, I am sure, what you intend to convey! If a kid can hear "You're not good enough for me!" then she will, even if what parent is trying to say is "You aren't able for this!"

    But I'm sure you have a sensible child who will understand that there just isn't the money available to skate at her present intensity unless she can help to earn it. It might be an idea to sit down with her - both parents, if she has two living at home - and discuss it from a totally objective point of view, not raising the question of her ability or lack of it. And do listen to her input, too. She will know which competitions she loves, and which she hates. She might even be ready to cut back on competition, but perhaps skate in a show for a year or two before college - I know you don't have the concept of a "gap year" between school and university that we have in the UK, but it's a good idea, and can be a serious help towards college expenses!

  6. #6
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    It is good that you are concerned about your daugher's future and thinking about her educational opportunities.

    Have you spoken to a financial planner? You are right that her choices may be limited if you don't start saving now, although it's not all or nothing- there are lower-cost schools that are very good and my parents and I all took out loans to pay for my education.

    A planner could start you on a structured savings plan, and make sure that you are taking care of your family's long-term needs as well as your daughter's- even a small amount saved a month might help you feel less limited by the financial demands of skating.

    It would be good to have a conversation with your daughter about what she wants for her future and what place skating might have in it. Does she want to coach? Does she have interests outside of skating?

    If she loves skating, try to continue to be supportive even if she's not winning. As she gets older, she may also be able to take more responsibility for contributing to her skating costs and college savings plan.

  7. #7
    Rinkside
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    Hmm. Okay, step back a minute. Your daughter is, what, 13 or 14? And she's at intermediate. You've decided she's not going to the Olympics :-). Fair enough, because 99.99999% of skaters aren't. I just started skating last year (age 39); obviously I'm not going to the Olympics but I'm still spending lots of money and time (okay, not $1000/mo) on skating just because it means a lot to me.

    Obviously it's up to you and your husband to decide what's best for your daughter, and college is certainly important. I assume when she got into skating you thought it was a good outlet for her, something good for her to be involved in, a positive thing in her life. Has that changed? You said she loves to skate, so it would seem not. You said she's not winning, but that's not in her control. You also say she's doing some odd/unusual things. Maybe the pressure is too much? Maybe she doesn't want to compete anymore? It's a fine line to try to judge and I don't envy you the task.

    If your daughter doesn't want to compete anymore then clearly you can back off some of the most egregious expenses, for example # of lessons and freestyle sessions etc.

    If she does want to compete, then perhaps she can help to earn some money herself to help; also perhaps there are others who would be willing to help her. Many skaters these days are receiving support. I know at our own rink one family has been the subject of some anonymous largesse because they have 3 kids (all very promising) in skate school but the family is dirt poor (single mom).

    Finally, has it occurred to you that your current concerns and frustration are being perceived by her and are upsetting her and/or throwing her "off her feed" so to speak?

    Anyway, good luck with your deliberations. It's not easy. I do think you should talk to her about it. I don't know if you are a skater yourself, but I can vouch for myself that skating has an importance in my life that would seem to be totally unreasonable. Perhaps your daughter is that way; perhaps not. Ask her.

  8. #8
    Rinkside
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    Hi Suzy,

    I don't know if this will be helpful to you or not, but I thought I'd add my input because I can sympathize. I'm 22 and just started skating as a hobby last year. Unfortunately, I LOVE it. I say "unfortunately", only because it is so expensive and so time consuming. I just graduated from college and have been debating with myself on whether or not to continue, because between working and grad school, it almost felt silly to keep going. But I love it so I finally decided to make it a priority in my life in order to keep up my skills, but just not the TOP priority. I can definately see where you are coming from. It's a difficult decision and I commend you for thinking ahead. As someone who put herself through college (my parents would have loved to help me and my siblings out, but they just don't have the money), I can attest to the stress of always worrying about money and the size of a savings account.


    So this is what I suggest. Why don't you wait until after the regional competition and then talk to your daughter about this. She's old enough to understand the difficulty of the decision and also start thinking ahead for the future. Because in the end, when Mom and Dad aren't paying for lessons and ice time, and all the other expenses of competition anymore, it's going to be your daughter that has to keep herself motivated to enjoy and love the sport and stay with it.

    I agree completely with you, if she isn't winning why keep investing the money in something that won't support her later in life (such as a college degree). I would put the question to her as to what she sees the money being most useful for, skating or college? Her input would probably reveal a lot about her motivation for the sport and where she sees herself heading in the future. Of course all kids are different, but I would venture to guess she's mature enough to at least consider this question.

    I mean, even if she says wants to continue at the current level, just b/c she doesn't go to the Olympics doesn't mean it can't be useful to her if she really does love the sport. She could always coach, ect. But of course that is years down the road. I would simply ask for her input and maybe talk to her coach about her potential for the future. Who knows? Whatever her answer, it doesn't have to be written in stone. Maybe try scaling back her involvement in skating (thus the cost and expenses) and see how hungry she is to get back into it.

    Just a few suggestions, hope it's helpful to you!

    p.s. when my parents told me they had to cut out my piano lessons b/c they were getting too costly, I burst into tears - something I never do. They understood how I felt and let me continue without ever mentioning it never to me again.

  9. #9
    Fan of The Incomparable Sonja Henie Glacierskater's Avatar
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    How about skating AND college?

    Suzy,

    Have you looked into funding for your daughter. I think that there is financial assistance that starts for skaters around the Intermediate level. Also, I thought that there wwere colleges out there where you could get a scholarship for skating. I am not a parent or a student...I am an adult skater, but I would look into those two options as well. And if she is not die hard like those of us who have not just a hobby, but a skating addiction, then maybe she could cut back? Just some food for thought. I wish you the best in closure on this.

  10. #10
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    You mentioned problems with being less consistant. Well, based on what you said about her graduating in 4 years, I take it that she is a freshman in high school? At that age, your body changes and you need to re-learn her muscle memory. Sadly, a lot of skaters lose hope and quit. Help her through it.

  11. #11
    Rinkside
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    Suzy, might I suggest taking a break with competitions and just having your daughter skate? Perhaps cut back on lessons as well.

    Without competition entrance fees, costuming, choreography, travel, etc., your monthly bills may go down. She could be just a test skater, and work on achieving her gold medals in moves and freestyle. Then she could coach while she attends college.

    This is just my opinion, but if money is so tight that college is not being funded, you need to level with your daughter. I wouldn't protect her from your financial reality. An education is much more important than skating IMO.
    Last edited by dobiesk8r; 09-23-2004 at 08:38 AM. Reason: add to message

  12. #12
    Hell's Librarian
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    Perhaps, if she's still interested in skating, you could take it down a notch. Focus on skating as one step towards college, rather than a be-all, end-all in itself. There are several schools that have varsity level skating teams, either synchro or individual. Perhaps you could get some info on what colleges look for in their skaters, and adjust your daughter's skating accordingly?

    Definately start saving towards college for your kids. College is more important than skating. If that means that you cut some funds that now go towards skating, it will be worth it. If she still wants to skate, think about what you can cut in skating combined with how much per month you need to start saving towards college, and make some hard decisions. Skating doesn't have to completely end for her if she doesn't want it to, but things may need to change. Even cutting 1-2 lessons/freestyles per week, and doing a few less competitions, might save you $250 per month, or more, which you could put into a 529 plan for college.

    She might really enjoy the opportunity to do a non-skating activity at school. If you cut back on skating a bit, could she fit in drama, or track, or art club, or some other activity that she can try without any pressure to actually be any good at it?

  13. #13
    Rinkside
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    I registered for this website specifically to answer your post. I am 24 and a college student. My parents paid around $20,000 a year for me to skate and no I was never anyone famous. I did a lot of great things, competed at the Senior level, skated all over the place, worked with some of the best coaches in the world, had my triples etc. When I was in high school and ready to graduate (near then) my father discussed this with me and pointed out that it would be difficult to ever be at the top and/or make money and he hoped that I wouldn't want to just coach someday and I wanted to go to college. In order for me to continue skating, I agreed to put my way through college to the best extent that I could.

    Today I teach skating at $50 an hour and pay for myself to live and go to school in NYC. He gives me $3000 at the beginning of the year and I am on my own. I have started my own rollerblading business and frankly, because of what I got out of skating I am able to do this. Skating gave me a lot of opportunities, including getting into school, because I was a diverse person.

    I was a fantastic skater when I was younger. When I turned 14 and was Intermediate, everything got crazy. Nerves set in, I moved up to a higher level, and I wasn't placing like I had before. Thank goodness my parents held in there because I kept working and I still loved it and eventually I got over it, and let me say it wasn't til I was a Senior level skater that I did really well again. They also let me go to a sports psychologist for a short period to work on my issues with landing my double axel in competition. I got that jump in less than a month and had the hardest time for a YEAR landing it at competition.

    What I got out of skating is something that I will never regret. I have a strong work ethic, am proud of the work I have done, am a healthy person, can make great money while I go through school, and made great friends. Although I didn't accomplish what I wanted, my parents were always proud of me. And I remind my students now and PLEASE keep this in mind.....Michelle Kwan is a great skater. Someday she can go out, skate a clean program to the best of her ability, and another skater will beat her because they skated better that day. Are you disappointed with Michelle because she didn't win? No way, you are proud of her because she did the best she could and worked her hardest. You have no control over placements, and you'd be upset to see her mad that she didn't win. Thus is the way skating goes. But it sure gives us a lot more than just a gold medal.
    Last edited by edemamepirate; 09-24-2004 at 09:22 PM.

  14. #14
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Suzy:

    I am not a skating mom, but was a figure skater for many years. It sounds to me like your daughter does not enjoy the competitive side of figure skating. It's not for everyone! Why not let your daughter decide whether or not she wants to continue to skate? Getting an education is important. It's pretty hard to balance both. Of course, many athletes do. My best advice is to take the pressure off as far as the competing goes and just let your daughter enjoy figure skating. That maybe why she is having problems with her jumps. She may have lost her joy.
    She could still continue to skate for fun and attend a local College. After all, she may decide she wants to teach skating. Just a thought.

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