Tim Covington

Meet Your Area Representatives

Tracey Seliga-OBrien

April 1, 2015

   In The Loop Extended Articles

Tim Covington
Area 4 Representative
Ice Time Sports, Newburgh, New York
Years Coaching: 10
Ratings: MFS, SM

Sometimes you have to travel a long road to find your way back home. Tim Covington knows this better than most. He also knows it’s wise to read the signs along the way.

Covington skated in Atlanta as a child, but that part of his life ended abruptly when the rink closed and he couldn’t continue elsewhere. He threw himself into theater, partly because it was his second passion, but largely to keep his mind off skating.

“I didn’t allow myself to think about skating at all,” he said. “Never.”
Covington moved on, but was fortunate to have an exciting life after skating. He lived in Florence, Italy, earned a master’s degree in fine arts, and worked as an actor in theater, film, and television.

Fast forward to 2002. Covington was living in New York City with a successful job in the fashion industry and traveling the world. But the events of a few months earlier impacted him greatly.

“I witnessed the horror of 9/11. I felt uninspired in my job, and, honestly, I was miserable,” he said. “I needed help. One day at the gym, I was at a very low point and found myself praying out loud, ‘God, I need some direction in my life. I need some meaning in my life.’”

Covington started having recurring dreams about skating. He thought it was a sign that it was time to skate again. He thought he could return to the “reverence and quietness” of figures and maybe get a few jumps back. However, while he was out seeing the world, figure skating moved on, too.

“Little did I know that the world had changed to MIF and the new rules of IJS,” he said. “I discovered what I really wanted was to be a coach, but I had a lot to learn and relearn.”

He described his comeback as arduous, but set about completing some unfinished business. He passed his Senior MIF and revived his double Lutz, but not without some bruises and pulled muscles along the way.

“At one point, I ended up in dance therapy alongside Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth as they were rehearsing ‘Wicked.’ Only in New York!” he said.

“A lot of my friends think I completely reinvented myself. I think God just gave me a second chance to be who I was really meant to be – a coach. Perhaps my 22 years ‘wandering in the wilderness’ was just preparing me to be a better coach. I love coaching and I love figure skating. The skaters I teach are wonderful and bring joy and humor to me every day. I often stop myself, look across the rink, and think, ‘I have the best job in the world!’”

An answer to a prayer? Perhaps. But if anything is certain, Covington is home again.

Tracey Seliga-O’Brien
Denver, Colorado
Area: 13, since 2009
Years Coaching: 23 years
Ratings:  MFS, CM, Hockey Level I & II; Ranking: Level II

Tracey Seliga-O’Brien sees the big picture. When asked if there was a pivotal moment in her skating career that made her who she is today, her thoughts turned to the cumulative process that took her from beginner, to international competitor, to coach. For her, every goal achieved along the way was an important victory.

“My skating started with hard work,” she said. “Some skaters are good right away, but then they fizzle out. We took everything one step at a time, one test at a time. I was fortunate to pass all my figure tests and freestyle tests, and I got to experience all levels of skating. The only way I made it to international competition was through perseverance.”

O’Brien was guided over these stepping stones by coaches, family, and others who maintained a positive outlook that was important at that time in her life. She credits not only her love of skating and tenacity for her success, but learning just as much from failures as from triumphs.

She has worked to bring this same attitude to both her coaching and her parenting. She believes in setting realistic, attainable goals along the way to the top of any pursuit.

“My students have seen ups and downs,” she said. “My ups and downs built me into what I am today. I think every year is a learning experience. The foundation you build and the groundwork you do today will prepare you for what’s next. If you make it to the next level and find it’s hard, just take it one step at a time and be realistic

.” O’Brien hopes to instill this same outlook in her son, who plays hockey. However, she said young skaters today are faced with many more choices and often participate in multiple activities. She believes, whatever they do, skaters need to ask themselves why they are in these activities, and what the big picture is for them.

Young skaters are also exposed to more stresses in their lives than when O’Brien was young. She is particularly concerned about recent violent and tragic events in the Denver area that have directly affected some of her students. She said kids who love to skate often find the rink a refuge from the outside world.

“Kids are having to deal with a lot of stuff at a very young age. Bad stuff happens everywhere, and it’s magnified by the media. I just want my skaters and my children to know that hard work pays off, and things happen for a reason. Take it one step at a time, and use it all as a learning experience for next time.”