Friday, February 23, 2018

Lisa Believed In Me and I Believed in Lisa

As I have been writing about some of my friends in this JO ANN's Friends blog, I have realized that some of the friends that I now consider lifelong friends were once my bosses, so I am writing some blog posts that are dedicated to those wonderful people who hold a very special place in my heart since they had a part in shaping my life. We met because of work, but as the years passed, when we no longer worked together, we connected again and discovered that we were friends for life. How COOL is that!

In this blog post, I am writing about Lisa.  Lisa believed in me.  Her belief that I could achieve great things helped me to work at doing things I didn't believe I could do. She and I now have a friendship and trust that both of us treasure. Enjoy the story of our friendship which is below.

Lisa - Manager at Plaza Ice Chalet Colorado Springs 1994
 At the end of 1991, my husband Dan and I moved to Colorado Springs.  The two of us wanted to start over in Colorado Springs after our nearly four years in San Francisco.  The organization we had worked for in San Francisco was what some might call "high demand" and we were exhausted.  I stopped working for that organization in late 1989, but Dan stayed until we left San Francisco in late October of 1991.

At the time, we did not want to stay in San Francisco and decided it was time to fulfil our dream of moving to Colorado Springs.  Every time we vacationed in "The Springs," we felt like the place should be our home.  It was time to make our dream a reality.

My family owned a small two bedroom condo at the foot of Cheyenne Mountain that my father had purchased at an auction during my days of training at The Broadmoor.  "The Condo" had been the Schneider family's vacation home ever since my brother Billy and I stopped training. We would gather at "The Condo" for family reunions and Dan and I had spent several wonderful vacations there enjoying the condo's indoor pool and hot tub and just enjoying Colorado. 

When Dan and I left San Francisco and moved to Colorado Springs, we moved without landing jobs in advance since my parents told us that we could stay in "The Condo" for as long as we needed to.  We were delighted and so happy to be in Colorado!

In early November of 1991, when we arrived in Colorado, the job market in Colorado Springs was what one might have called "dismal."  The want-ads in the city's only newspaper, the Gazette Telegraph, could be read in a matter of seconds.  There were just no jobs available.

Once we were unpacked and settled in "The Condo," Dan and I prepared resumes on our little Macintosh computer and began looking for work.  Of course I wanted to teach skating.  In San Francisco, after I'd left the organization that Dan and I worked for, I'd taught part-time for Ice Capades Chalets and balanced that with an office job.  I wanted to do the same thing in Colorado Springs.

I first contacted Kathy Casey at The Broadmoor World Arena,  but learned quickly that she was not hiring new coaches.  At the city owned rink, Sertich Ice Center, the Skating Director, Linda Kola, told me she'd put me on the substitute teaching list.  

There was one more ice rink in town called The Plaza Ice Chalet.  It was located on Tejon Street near the downtown and was a cute small chalet type rink with low rails.  The rink was was indoors and was small.  A beautiful view of the mountains could be seen by those who skated there.  Public skating went on at "The Plaza" for hours and hours each day and there was no hockey. 

As soon as I walked into "The Plaza" with my resume, I wanted to teach there.  The rink reminded me so much of Ice Capades Chalet in San Mateo, California, where I had taught part-time when I lived in San Francisco.  I knew I'd found my teaching skating "home" in Colorado and hoped that whoever hired coaches at "The Plaza" would want me on the staff.

I will never forget the day I met Lisa, the manager of "The Plaza."  I introduced myself and gave her my resume which she studied thoroughly.  She saw how qualified and experienced I was after reading my resume, and I knew immediately that she wanted me on her coaching staff.  She recognized the names of my coaches during my days of training and also recognized the people I'd put on the resume as references.  She even knew my brother!  Lisa made me feel important and welcome that day.

It took a few weeks before a new session of class lessons began, but soon, I received a call from Lisa and I was given a full schedule of classes to teach, and in time, I became quite established at the Plaza as a respected coach.  Lisa believed in me and never stopped believing in me.  Teaching on her staff at "The Plaza" was so fun, that I wanted to be there all the time!

Lisa was the hardest working rink manager and she also was the most knowledgeable figure skating coach.  I was in total awe of her.  She worked from early morning to late at night.  She made sure the condition of the ice at the Plaza Ice Chalet was perfect and was an expert at driving the little Zamboni that resurfaced Plaza's small ice sheet.  It was common to see her walking and sometimes running across the rink in high heels!  Her carefully selected staff worked hard and somehow every person that worked under her became her friend.  

It is unusual for an individual to manage a rink and also direct a skating school, but Lisa did both.  She was able to do that because she'd give her employees a chance to excel and do work that she could have done herself.  She was a master at delegating responsibility.  When we made mistakes, Lisa took the blame, and let us try again.  

Lisa tells me that whenever possible, she considered everyone that worked for her to be a friend and she never thought of herself as being a "boss" to any coach.  She knew she had hired a capable group of coaches, so she let them do what they did naturally and Lisa says they did a great job.

As time passed, Lisa gave me more and more classes and she'd recommend me to prospective private students.  She did the same with the rest of her staff.  We were a wonderful team.  

Not only did Lisa believe in each person who worked under her, but she made an effort for all who skated at the rink to feel like one happy family. 

When a cool new skating type ski called Sled Dogs was invented, Lisa made it possible for us all to get to rent the product for free and then we all headed up to Copper Mountain to ski together.  When I became pregnant with my first child, Lisa gave me a baby shower.  Banners were put up at the rink when Plaza instructors Christine Fowler and Garrett Swasey won the National Junior Dance title.  Lisa worked it out for the rinks' skaters to march in local parades.  She even began the Plaza Ice Chalet Figure Skating Club .  Enthusiastic volunteers and Plaza coaches together produced ice shows that showed off the many many young and old skaters that skated at the rink.  

There were so many other wonderful things Lisa did for her Plaza Ice Chalet family.  For example, she coached some of the most talented skaters at the rink and became a "2nd Mom" to those skaters.  If a coach needed help, she was always willing to take the time to leave her office.  She was a mentor to all.  

Smiles were contagious at "The Plaza" and that was because of  Lisa!

The Beautiful Plaza Ice Chalet

Sadly, the Plaza Ice Chalet closed in 1994.  As the rumors of the rink closing happened, Lisa did her best to protect "the Plaza family."  She knew we would eventually lose our beloved "skating home," our beloved rink, to what was considered "progress" for Colorado Springs, but she tried so hard to keep our rink open. 

Even after the rink closed, Lisa "looked after" those who had been part of that wonderful magical rink.  I think it might have been then, when Lisa was no longer my boss, that I realized she was a true friend.  Lisa continued to believe in me and without that I don't know if I could have survived during the time I call "The Colorado Springs Ice Famine." 

It was really hard to keep teaching skating in Colorado Springs after the Plaza Ice Chalet closed, but Lisa helped all of us who felt somewhat lost without our rink stay together.  The little club she started at "The Plaza" changed its name to the Front Range Figure Skating Club and rented private ice time.  We continued to connect and help one another.  We tried to keep skating fun for all the people who had once skated at Lisa's happy rink.  Doing that was not easy.

Somehow, I kept teaching skating between 1994 to 1998.  During that time, I taught at both the city's Sertich Ice Center and at Colorado College.  The wonderful Plaza Ice Chalet became a memory.  Lisa continued to teach a bit, but went on to work full-time at another job.

Then, sometimes magical happened!  A new ice rink, the Ice Arena at Chapel Hills Mall, opened in Colorado Springs in 1998.  And guess what?  The management company sent a representative named Glen to Colorado Springs to do the hiring for that mall rink and Glen remembered me when I worked under him when I lived in San Francisco.  He asked me who he should hire to manage the new mall rink and of course,  I recommended Lisa!  I knew she was the best rink manager ever.  I believed in her.

I remember calling Lisa after I met with Glen and telling her that I recommended her.  We were both so excited.

In February of 1998, the offices for the rink opened in the mall before the rink did and I visited the rink's office to congratulate Lisa the day that office officially opened.  I knew I would be teaching at the new beautiful rink, but Lisa believed  me so much, that on that day, I was surprised to be given the job and title of Skating Director!  

Lisa never stopped believing in me.  At the time, I was the mom of two young children, so I ended up sharing the Skating Director job with two other young mothers, Karen S. and Karen K.  The three of us worked  hard for Lisa and based on Lisa's model, we all became friends.  

Also, Lisa knew I liked skating in hockey skates and before long I was directing the rink's learn to skate to play hockey program.  Lisa's belief in me made me do what I thought I could not do.  I've been teaching skating skills for hockey ever since!

Lisa Teaching at the Ice Arena Chapel Hills Mall

The company that managed the Chapel Hills rink put high demands on Lisa.  She always protected those who worked under her from that management; somewhere in 2002 or 2003, Lisa's time as a rink manager ended.  

All of us who worked under Lisa had all gained so much confidence under her leadership and guidance. We all went on to do various things in our lives and careers. 

Many years have passed since the time when I worked for Lisa.   For me, Lisa's belief in me helped me realize that if I put my mind to it, I could do anything!  She gave me that confidence.

Lisa left Colorado, but she and I have kept in touch via phone, through email, and through Facebook.  Two chapters in my autobiography, MY SKATING LIFE, are about her and the happy rinks she managed.  I know that if I ever need need anything, she'll be there.  

I can't help but think of the Carole King song, "You've Got a Friend" when I think about Lisa. If I am ever "down or troubled or need a helping hand," I know Lisa will be there.  Yes, the words "You've got a friend" ring true when it comes to my relationship with Lisa.  We are friends for life. 

To Lisa: Thank you for being a part of my life!  I treasure our friendship.

Lisa (left) is in the front row with Skating Directors JO ANN, Karen K., and Karen S. - Ice Arena at Chapel Hills Mall 2000

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