Meet Your Area Representatives
Nilda Nancy Garcia
Representing: Area 17, since June 2011
Years coaching: 8
Current location: Monterrey, NL, Mexico
ISU Technical Specialist
Hard work and passion have defined the life of Nancy Garcia, both on and off the ice. She has taken that drive internationally as a competitor for Mexico, as an International Business and Trade graduate of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM), and now as the PSA’s representative to international coaches.
Garcia comes by her drive honestly. When asked whom she holds in the highest regard, she didn’t hesitate to name her mother and grandmother. “Both of them are amazing women,” she said, “I share their names, too. My mom is Nilda Nancy Villarreal, and my grandma was Nilda Nancy Garza.”
Nancy’s grandmother passed away in January. She said it was a great loss to a large family that has stayed very close. “I have four uncles and their families that live within a block of each other,” she said. “My grandparents did an amazing job to keep our big family united.” Her close family supported her skating, including her grandfather, Ruben Villarreal, who traveled to all her competitions to cheer her on. Several family members moved with her for months at a time when she was training in Colorado with Gerry and Debbie Lane.
“Even though skating looks like an individual sport, it’s all about team work,” she said. “You do well because of your hard work, but also because of the people that love you and are behind you, supporting you and pushing you to reach higher goals every day. Sometimes we don’t see that these people also sacrifice a lot.”
Nancy first stepped onto the international competitive stage at the 1998 North American Challenge Skate in San Jose, Calif. “It’s a great feeling to represent your country,” she said. “It feels like all the hard work has been worth it. It’s a great honor, and I also got to meet some amazing athletes.”
Now, as a coach in Monterrey, Mexico, she hopes to pass on to her students and fellow coaches not only her work ethic, but her love for the sport as well. “Be passionate about what you’re doing,” she said. “Be fair and honest, and be the best example you can be to your students, because you end up being their role model. Skating taught me to believe in myself,” she said. “You have to take the difficult times as a challenge and know that if you work hard and love what you are doing, there is nothing you can’t achieve.”
Representing: Area 12, 2 1/2 years
Years coaching: 21 years
Current location: Omaha, Neb.
Ratings: MM, MG, SFS
Like most working moms, Andrea Williamson finds it a daily challenge to balance work with family – although even a brief chat reveals which is most important in her life. As the wife of former ice dancer Ben Williamson and mom to nearly-9-year-old Ava, she beams when she talks about home, school, and Ava’s activities.
While being a skating director, coach, and PSA volunteer keep Andrea very busy, her flexible schedule allows her to spend time volunteering during the day. “I do a lot of volunteering at Ava’s school,” Andrea said. “I’m a room mom and help out in the library. I also lead the school’s book club program.”
In the fall, Andrea will join the board of directors of The Rose Theater, a non-profit organization in Omaha that provides affordable performing arts experiences for children and never turns away a child based on ability to pay. Ava has been in the theater’s programs and skated for a while when she was younger, but right now competitive swimming is her sport – and that’s just fine with mom!
“I don’t know swimming, and it’s been interesting to learn about a new sport,” Andrea said. “It reminds me how new families coming into skating feel. It helps me remember you need to walk the new parent through the process. I have really enjoyed being able to sit back and just be the parent and the cheerleader. I let the coach do the coaching! I appreciate that in my world, so hopefully I’m being a good swim parent.”
Recently, Andrea added recovering from hip surgery to her balancing act. The surgery kept her off the ice for two months. “That’s the longest I’ve ever been off the ice in 31 years,” she said. “It gave me an appreciation for athletes coming back from injury and being able to return to the sport at the same level. I missed being on the ice with my skaters. It did help me improve my verbal skills, though!”
Andrea had her final physical therapy in late February and is already running. Although she admitted to some nagging pain, it’s not keeping her from doing what she wants. “As skaters, we’re just used to sucking it up and getting on with it.”
So Andrea is getting on with it and continuing her balancing act, but she hesitates when asked to explain how she does it all. “If I had the answer to that, I’d be a millionaire!”