Representing Area 1
Coaching in the metropolitan Boston area
Ratings/Rankings: MM, SFS, Level III
Nothing inspires a coach to strive for excellence like being surrounded by great coaches. Amy Hanson-Kuleszka can attest to this, as she credits two formative weeks in the summer of 1997 as shaping the future of her career. Those two weeks at Ice Castle International Training Center in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., allowed her the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most accomplished coaches.
“I was a young coach who was still skating, and I traveled to Ice Castle with one of my students for training camp,” Hanson-Kuleszka said. “There were so many amazing skaters training there like Michelle Kwan and Angela Nikodinov. I got to work with coaches like Frank Carroll, Evelyn Kramer, Philip Mills, and Irina Rodnina. Skating while Lori Nichol choreographed Michelle’s ‘Lyra Angelica’ program will always be a highlight in my skating experience.”
Hanson-Kuleszka was still a new coach with no PSA ratings and who had yet to take a competitor to regionals. Despite her youth, she said the coaches at Ice Castle welcomed her. They were professional, caring, and eagerly shared their techniques and wisdom.
“Whether or not they realized it, I left inspired to become a more educated coach,” she said. “Their passion and willingness to teach me, as well as my student, left an indelible mark on me as a skater, coach, and person.”
Hanson-Kuleszka continued to attend similar camps where she could learn as her students learned. She started the ratings process, and now holds a master rating in Moves in the Field and a senior rating in Free Skating. She said many coaches helped her along the way, including those who have known her since childhood and those she met along the way.
“They helped me prepare for exams, encouraged me to be my best, and supported me through my journey,” she said. “I am thankful to each of them and to the PSA for creating a community where coaches can continue to learn, collaborate, and support each other.”
Representing Area 6
Coaching since 2001
Currently coaching in Washington, D.C., area
Ratings/Rankings: MFS, CC, CM
Ask any coach how they feel when a student accomplishes a milestone, and the coach will say the thrill is like they reached the goal themselves. It’s not that the coach is living vicariously through a student, but the empathy and relationships built through long hours of practice, struggle, failure, and success affect the coach as much as the skater.
Kevin Curtis recounts just such an experience. He lists his most memorable skating “moment” as culmination of one of his first students go from basic skills to competing at the senior level.
“I had been teaching my student for many years, and had been with her through good and bad times, ups and downs of all sorts,” Curtis said. “Seeing her go from struggling with a single Axel to rotating triples and turning in great skating performances – even at the qualifying level – was mind blowing. I couldn’t believe all that she had become.”
Curtis said the skater was quiet and reserved in the beginning, but she blossomed into a beautiful skater with a mind of her own. She began taking ownership of her skating, contributing music choices for programs, costume designs, and choreography ideas.
“She would create beautiful movements with an ease and body line that were wonderful to watch,” Curtis said. “She was coming out of her shell and extending herself as a person and as a competitive skater.”
Curtis added that, while this student had been a consistent competitive skater since her early qualifying events, seeing her hold her own on the ice with top senior-level talent was “mind blowing.” She had grown physically and emotionally, and seeing that she deserved to be on the ice with the other seniors astounded Curtis.
“She was actually a senior lady!” he said.
During her final competitive season before leaving for college, Curtis said her performances were clear, complete, and beautiful to watch. Seeing their years of hard work, taking her from baby steps through her final moments as a competitive senior skater, was very emotional for him.
“Happiness took over, and an overwhelming sense of pride that I had never felt up to that point,” Curtis said. “From that moment on, I had a new perspective on skating as a whole in my life – a new appreciation, and a new understanding for how rewarding the process is both as a skater and as a coach. I will take that with me forever, and hope I get the chance to revisit it many times over with other students the same way I experienced it that very first time.”