Scott Hamilton Skating Academy

By Terri Milner Tarquini


April 1, 2016
   In The Loop Extended Articles

The Scott Hamilton Skating Academy isn’t looking to completely reinvent the sport of figure skating, but it is taking aim at reinvigorating it.

“Scott is really innovative,” said Paula Trujillo, figure skating manager and coach at the academy. “He believes there are no problems, only solutions. We work toward two goals here: how to make learning to skate fun and how to make it affordable.”

It’s a mission statement that seems to be working, judging by the numbers.

Located in Antioch, Tennessee, the academy is at the Ford Ice Center, a facility that opened in August 2014 and is the result of a public partnership between the Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County and the NHL’s Nashville Predators, the latter of which does all of the advertising for the skating program.

The first night the academy’s basic skills program debuted, there were four skaters total. Now there are over 300 registered skaters for each eight-week series.

“The program is blowing up - hockey, figure skating, adults, kids,” Trujillo said. “We are the teaching side of this and we are encouraging families to come out and stay skating. It’s amazing how many families we see skating together. We have adult skaters in classes while their kids are in figure skating and hockey. It’s become a family destination.”

Training has a little different look at the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy.

First, there’s the group dynamic, which is the lifeblood of the academy and what helps feed its tenets of fun and financial accessibility. Called Crossover, it is the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy’s link from Learn to Skate to advanced skating and covers a range of on- ice and off-ice group classes, including jumps, spins, edges, yoga, and ballet.

Second, there’s the dedication to teaching school figures - even if they do look a little different than the circles on assigned patches of ice of yesteryear.

“We go about them in a more progressive mode,” Trujillo said. “One skater starts, followed by another at a certain point, and then another skater. It’s a staggered start but the skaters follow the same continuous path on the same figure. The academy is built on fun. Even figures don’t have to be tedious.”

Heck, and maybe they can even be the means to a top place finish, which might be why Hamilton has a soft spot for the ol’ 8s.

“Something about Scott: He wanted to win the Olympics and he knew he had to determine what he was not good at,” said Trujillo of Hamilton’s road between a fifth place Olympic finish in 1980 to the top of the podium at the 1984 Winter Games. “He spent two years focusing on making his figures the best they could be and he ended up doing what he set out to do.”

It’s that kind of motivation that radiates from Hamilton - and why he is such an inspiration to so many.

“He has a beautiful approach where he draws from his own experiences,” Trujillo said. “He is able to help those who are struggling and he leads them toward finding the joy in the sport.”

When the idea of the Ford Ice Center was becoming a reality, the Nashville Predators approached Hamilton, a Franklin, Tennessee, resident and long-time Predators season ticket holder, to head up the figure skating side of things. Hamilton was willing and eager to bring his name and knowledge to the grassroots of skating - albeit, possibly, a little apprehensive.

“He was actually nervous in the beginning because he had never taught before,” Trujillo said, “but it came so naturally for him and now it’s so comfortable. He has found his calling.”

The Hamilton name carries a massive amount of cache seeing as he snagged the men’s national and world titles four years in row in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984, as well as bringing home the gold at the 1984 Winter Games.

“What an honor it is to have him attached to this program,” Trujillo said “It is a huge responsibility to put value to the academy that carries his name.”

While Nashville has its share of amenities, the Ford Ice Center is actually 12 miles away in Antioch - a city in need of a little revitalization, which came in the form of a state-of-the-art facility with two ice sheets, a ballet room and an on-ice jump harness. The arena is adjacent to a park with a running track, a fitness facility and a library.

The shot in the arm seems to be working.

A local figure skating club recently relocated to the Ford Ice Center and renamed itself the Scott Hamilton Skating Club, the academy held a successful holiday show at the end of 2015 and had its first test session in February. With the growth of the Learn to Skate program, as well as other programs within the academy, what’s next for the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy?

“The sport of skating has a place for everybody,” Trujillo said. “We want to provide all of the opportunities possible at our academy so everyone can find their niche and they can grow within the program and discover all of the joy that skating has to offer.”

It’s no surprise, however, that Hamilton will have his hand in anything he puts his name on.

“When Scott is here, he gets out there and is down on his hands and knees with the kids, he is helping the coaches, he is with the stragglers at the back of the class who are struggling,” Trujillo said. “He has made an effort to be here for our advanced skaters that is extraordinary. He genuinely loves this program.”

Scott Hamilton Sk8 Academy presents its 2016 Summer Program on June 6th through July 29th held at the new twin sheet Ford Ice Center.
  • Featuring Scott Hamilton and guest coaches as well as master rated SHSA Staff
  • In depth classes on ice and off ice 
  • Performance Fridays
  • Space is limited to assure the highest quality program and experience
  • Guest coaching opportunities are available
  • Visit for more information