Area 17 Representative
Currently Head Coach at Skautafelag Reyjavikur, Reykjavik, Iceland
Years Coaching: 20
Ratings/Rankings: RFS, MG, RM, CPD, Hockey Level 2 & Power
The most memorable event in John Kauffman’s skating career is a recent one, but it spans his experiences over the past year – a year in which he has learned that “it will all work out fine.”
Kauffman made a big leap of faith, moving to Iceland to become the head coach at the Skautafelag Reyjavikur rink. He faced the task of learning to live abroad in a new culture, and had to learn the rules governing skating in a different country. But the challenges did not end there.
“Working here in Iceland has been very memorable,” Kauffman said. “Working in a different culture with a different skating system has been very challenging and rewarding, not to mention learning a new language.”
Even though he was new to the language, he had to put together a Christmas show in Icelandic not long after arriving.
“I used their legend of the 13 Santa Clauses,” he said. (In Icelandic folklore, the 13 Yule Lads brought rewards or punishment to children at Christmastime, depending on their behavior through the year. Children placed their shoes on the window sill, with the Yule Lads leaving gifts in the shoes of the good, and rotten potatoes in the shoes of those who had misbehaved.) “Between finding Icelandic music and scripting the story, it was quite an education.
Kauffman has been able to grow professionally as a coach, as well. He has continued his work with Special Olympics and co-chaired Iceland’s first inclusive skating event. Over the past competitive season, his skaters also received the highest scores in the country.
How has he managed to overcome the trials of such a move, and so many life adjustments? Two simple words: Þetta reddast.
Pronounced “theh-tah red-ahst” and roughly translated as “it fixes itself,” Kauffman credits his peace of mind to this traditional Icelandic philosophy that everything will work out fine in the end. He has, in fact, adopted Þetta reddast into his coaching style and sees it as a stepping stone to a promising future.
“I have a new way of looking at things,” he said. “Coaching here has reinforced in me the need to be patient, easy going, and positive. This country and its skaters continue to bring about changes in me.”
Anne Marie Filosa
Ratings: MM-01,SFS-01,MG-05,RT-12, Ranking: Level II
As a child, my father taught me to skate at the local outdoor rink. My absolute favorite thing to do was to go public skating with him. I read the library book “Carol Heiss – Olympic Queen” over and over again and dreamt of becoming an Olympic champion.
I started taking group lessons, then semi-private lessons, and graduated to private lessons. Before you know it, I was testing and competing. In 1969, I was training at the Skating Club of Boston and spending my summer and school vacations in Lake Placid studying under Gus Lussi. My family was trying to decide if I should move to Lake Placid to train there on a year-round basis when my Olympic dream came to an abrupt end. My father, a doctor in his early 50s, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Because of my father’s illness, my Olympic dream was replaced with the more realistic goal of passing all of the USFSA figure and free skating tests before college. I had to do this on a fairly independent basis and with limited resources and parental support, since my father was incapacitated and my mother was busy working to support the family and dealing with all the issues related to my father’s illness.
I had to get myself to and from the rink with public transportation that involved a mile-long walk, a trolley, a train, and a bus each way. I took responsibility for making most skating-related decisions and made the most of my lesson and practice times. As I look back, I realize that my love of skating was bigger than any Olympic dream and motivated me to continue skating in spite of my father’s illness.
Less than two months after high school graduation, I passed my Eighth Figure and Senior Free Skating tests and achieved my goal of becoming a USFSA Gold Medalist. In the fall, I began my freshman year at Wellesley College and my father passed away.
I also began teaching skating – thanks to my coach, Tom McGinnis. He scheduled me to teach group classes and referred my first private students to me. Tom jumpstarted my teaching career, but more importantly, he guided me through the transition from amateur skater to professional coach. He encouraged me to join the PSGA and I attended my first PSGA Seminar in 1974.
After teaching for 41 years, I still look to Tom as my mentor in coaching and thank my father for giving me the love of skating.