Area 9 Representative
Coaching 23 years
Currently at Kettering Ice Arena, Kettering, Ohio
Ratings/Rankings: MM, CG, CFS
Like many of the area representatives in this round of interviews, Lisa Bardonaro-Reibly believes the coach and person she is today is a culmination of many memorable skating moments, both good and “challenging.” Her list of happy memories outweighs the bad, though, no doubt contributing to her love of the sport.
She reminisces about the hum of the arena lights during patch and the smell of the arena – which she admits could sometimes be put on the “bad” list. She remembers quick skate changes after patch, trying not to be the last skater out on the freestyle. Other formative memories include being the only skater in her school, getting solos in club shows, and meeting and skating with her skating idols.
However, these idols weren’t the only important people in her skating life.
“I spent countless hours with my always-encouraging parents traveling to competitions and practices,” Bardonaro-Reibly said, “my dad dancing to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ to get me motivated before I skated and my mom putting the finishing touches on my dresses – sometimes in the parking lot. And I remember the friends who were more like family that I spent so many hours a day with.”
She remembers the great feeling of accomplishing goals, too.
“When I think of good memories of skating, I also think of landing a jump cleanly for the first time or passing a figure test on the first try, skating perfect programs in practice and competition, winning the Ohio State Championships and qualifying for regionals every year, and realizing my dream and skating in Lake Placid in the U.S. Collegiate Championships,” she said. “I loved being a part of the ‘team’ representing my club.
“However, I also remember the challenging moments we have all experienced – those tough practice days when nothing went my way, falling on jumps during competition, blowing your short program, or not doing well in figures which hurt your chances for overall placement, and failing some figure tests,” she said.
Bardonaro-Reibly said this lifetime of experiences, both good and bad, made her who she is today – a fun, realistic, caring, organized, goal-oriented, and patient coach.
“I thoroughly enjoy coaching, whether it’s hockey, basic skills, competitive skaters, waltz jumps, doubles, or recreational skating,” she said. “I try to get all of my skaters and group lesson class participants to love the sport. That’s what it’s all about – enjoying yourself and loving your sport. The last thing I always tell my competitors as they take the ice is to do their best and have fun.”
Area 3 Representative
Coaching 30+ years
Currently coaching in New Jersey
In the early 1960s, Lee Cabell was just a small boy who had just learned how to skate when the Czech national championships came to his hometown of Opava, near the Polish border. Many notable Czech skaters were in town, and the young Cabell was chosen for a special honor, which provided him with his most memorable skating moment.
“My grandfather had a large garden at the time and he offered his beautiful gladiolus flowers to be given to the competitors,” Cabell said. “At that time, each skater received flowers after skating their freestyle program. My role was to deliver the flowers on the ice to the skaters. The ice rink was packed with about 7,000 people.”
Cabell’s first delivery didn’t go quite as planned. He rushed to the ice with the flowers, but had forgotten to take off his skate guards. He fell on the ice with the flowers.
“You can imagine how the whole rink started to laugh, and the female competitor came to me, removed my skate guards, and took the flowers from me,” he said. “Well, I was glad I gave her the flowers!”
The impetuousness of youth caused him to take another misstep during the ice dancing competition, when he was supposed to give flowers to Eva and Pavel Roman, the world champions at the time. The organizer gave him the flowers, and he was eagerly awaiting his turn to deliver the flowers.
“I heard the music stop, and I flew onto the ice with a bright smile,” Cabell said. “A few seconds later, I realized the music had stopped in the middle of the program as a transition from fast to slow parts. At that moment, I became part of the championships in the eyes of the audience. Of course, the organizer ran after me and got me off the ice, and the Romans showed their professionalism and continued with their dance.”
For the remainder of his flower-delivery duty, a male skater sat next to Cabell and told him when to go onto the ice. That skater was Karol Divin, who that year won the Czech national and European championships. Divin also won the silver medal at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif. Whether Divin had been told by the organizers to assist the small boy did not diminish the effect of Cabell getting to spend the time with one of his skating idols.
“I didn’t realize at that time how proud I was, and I felt like I had won the national championships, myself,” Cabell said.
Cabell and Divin met again many times and were coaching colleagues in Brno, Czechoslovakia, where the 79-year-old Divin still lives.
“I am still in touch with that gentleman who saved me from total embarrassment so long ago!” Cabell said.