Meet Your Area Representatives
ARC Chairperson and Area 5 Representative
Coaching in Altoona, Penn.
Ratings/Ranking: MM, SFS, RG, Level 3 Ranking
Gloria Leous is the new chairperson of the Area Representatives Committee. She has taken over the post held by Marylill Elbe since 2004. Despite the challenges of being both the ARC chair and an area representative, Leous will continue in her role as the Area 5 Representative. “I didn't want to give up being the Area Representative,” Leous said. “So far I’ve been able to keep up with both positions. The enjoyable part for me is interacting with the members, and I don’t want to lose that connection with the coaches in my area.”
Leous is intent on following the mission already established for the committee. She said her vision for the future isn’t different than Elbe’s, but that she wants to build on the success established by Elbe and continue to improve the ways the committee can serve the membership. “Marylill started something fantastic, and I want to keep doing the best job we can with the mission we already have, which is all about getting information to – and back from - the members. That’s never been more important in our sport than now.”
Leous learned early on the importance of information – and of sharing that knowledge with others. She credits two coaches with instilling those values in her. She shared first names with her first coach, Gloria Russell, and the pair became “Big Gloria” and “Little Gloria” at the rink in Valencia, Penn. “She was a relentlessly-positive lady who started skating as an adult,” Leous said of Russell. “She was always taking lessons, determined to be as knowledgeable as she could. She set such a wonderful example as a coach, because when she felt she couldn’t meet my needs, she didn’t hesitate to help me find another fantastic coach. She was so unselfish, and always put what was best for me first.”
That next coach was Nina Stark-Slapnick, who was teaching in Kent, Ohio, at the time. Leous’s father would drive her the two hours to Kent on Saturdays and she would have all her lessons on that one day. Stark-Slapnick taught Leous to keep her head in the game.
“Nina taught me that skating is a thinking-person’s sport,” she said. “Nina often said the problem was I wasn’t thinking. She had a passion for figures, the geometry and mechanics of turns. She showed me all the detail that was right in front of me that I had just not been aware of. I went from aimlessly wandering around in circles to being mindful and focused on practice, and being deliberate about what I did. That was 30 years ago, but I still tell my skaters the same things – to think their way through.”
Leous said coaches should strive to leave a positive legacy with their skaters, like Nina did with her, because they don’t know which moments will be significant years later.
“I’m sure Nina didn’t think, ‘I’d better be careful what I say because 30 years from now…’” Leous said. “It reminds me that my words need to be constructive, affirming, and never unkind, because my skaters will remember and will be repeating my words 30 years from now!”
Brigitte Carlson Roquet
Area 11 Representative since May 2012
Coaching since 1997
Current location: Rockford, Illinois
Ratings: MPD, CM, CFS
Brigitte Carlson Roquet is the new Area 11 Representative serving Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. She began coaching in 1997 after a successful competitive career, which included being named the Colorado Open Championship’s “most promising young skater” and “the next Janet Lynn” by Rockford Magazine. She also performed as a professional dancer and studied ballet, tap, and jazz.
Roquet has found that her methods have evolved as her students have grown and progressed during her 15 years of coaching. Like most coaches, she admits that she often learns as much from her students as they learn from her.
“I teach many students and each is unique in his or her own way,” Roquet said. “My teaching approach is different for each student and my approach changes as the student changes, and as we get to know each other and share skating experiences.”
Roquet’s ability to adapt instruction to the individual needs of her skaters is just one sign of her professionalism. She knows that as she expands her methodology, she will be able to serve a larger number of skaters, and may inspire others around her with new ideas.
“I can explain the same technique in various ways, which helps a student that needs a different approach. I try to continually grow and improve along with my students,” she said.
Roquet also takes her position as a leader and role model seriously, and knows the decisions she makes can impact the lives of her skaters for the rest of their lives, both on and off the ice.
“As the coach, I am a role model and a mentor for my skaters. I help guide my skaters to make the right decisions and work hard,” she said. “My joy is achieved when my students go above and beyond their own goals and dreams. I am flattered and joyous when they want to be around me and want to be like me.”