Coaching since 2000
Currently coaching at Yorba Linda ICE, Yorba Linda, CA
Ratings/Rankings: CM, RFS, Level II ranking
Area 16 Representative Josselyn Baumgartner started skating at age 5 and competed for the first time just six months later. She joked that, in hindsight, that rapid turn of events seemed a bit “disturbing.” It was, however, her first step toward a goal that would impact her life as a skater and coach from then on.
As a juvenile seven years later, she competed at her first regional championships, and made it through the initial round of figures and free skating. That year, only the top two girls would advance from regionals to the U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships for juveniles and intermediates.
“We all knew the top juvenile girl would win with no problem, so we were basically all competing for that one second-place spot,” Baumgartner said. “A zillion juvenile girls competing for one spot!”
Baumgartner not only advanced to the final round, but earned that coveted second place that qualified her for the U.S. Junior Championships. Her adventure continued as the national event was on the opposite coast, requiring her first cross-country flight to a competition.
“I met competitors from all over the country and truly discovered what a huge nationals event really was,” she said. “I made friends that year and in the following years at sectionals and nationals with whom I still keep in touch. ”
Her skating career continued through a long cycle of training, competing, and recovering from injuries, including an ongoing pressure to make it to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships every year. She competed in the last figure event ever held at nationals in 1999.
“I wanted to stop competing by then because I’d had so many injuries by that point that it just became ridiculous,” she said.
Baumgartner transitioned to coaching, but never forgot the impact that first regionals-to-nationals journey made on her skating career.
“Even though that first national event was only at the juvenile level, it made me realize success was not an impossible achievement,” she said.
Coaching since 1977
Currently coaching at Ann Arbor Ice Cube, Michigan
Ratings/Rankings: SM, CFS, Level III
Many coaches encourage their skaters to attend elite training programs away from home during the summer, knowing they will come back with new motivation to reach their goals. Area 8 representative Melanie Bolhuis knows this from first-hand experience. Visiting such a program as a teenager impacted the rest of her skating career and continues to help her find direction today as a coach.
Bolhuis’s first such training adventure came when she was 14. Home was in Michigan, and her parents sent her to skate at the South Suburban Ice Arena in Littleton, Colo., for the summer.
“The level of skating that I experienced at South Suburban and the coaching I received from Wally and Norma Sahlin changed my training habits and my personal skating, and expanded my circle of friends,” Bolhuis said.
She returned to Colorado for the next four summers and has maintained the friendships she made there.
“The people I skated with back then are still my friends to this day,” she said.
As a coach, Bolhuis has continued to use what she learned those summers long ago to enhance her students’ training today. For a time, she traveled with her skaters so she could learn alongside them.
“In my early coaching days, I would take a group of skaters to different training locations in the summer so they could have the same experience that I benefited from as a skater,” she said. “If I couldn’t take them personally, I would encourage my high-level skaters to take a week or more to go to an elite skating facility to work with another coach.”
This approach laid the foundation for Bolhuis’s strong feelings about the value of the team coaching concept.
“I still believe in this philosophy of team coaching, whether it’s inside my rink or with other coaches around the country,” she said.