Meet Your Area Representatives

Tracey Seliga-O'Brien

October 1, 2012

   In The Loop Extended Articles

Tracey Seliga-O’Brien
Denver, Colorado
Area: 13, since 2009
Years Coaching: 21 years
Ratings: MFS, CM, Hockey Level I & II; Ranking: Level II

There are many challenges and rewards to raising a family – helping kids grow as they try, fail, learn, and succeed. Tracey Seliga-O’Brien says that applies to raising a skating family, too.

Like parents, skating coaches often learn as much from their “kids” as they try to teach them.  O’Brien admits to an almost-parental pride, reveling in her students’ successes both on and off the ice.

“It’s so gratifying when they achieve their goals,” O’Brien said, “especially the ones who really love the sport because they’ll work the hardest to achieve those goals. It’s important for us, as coaches, to help them achieve their goals in skating and in life.”

O’Brien is a big supporter of skaters in schools, and insists her students grow up and leave with a solid education. She has fostered this attitude among her students, who share a great camaraderie in their off-ice endeavors, as well.

“A lot of them are taking AP classes or are nearing graduation, and they’re all super supportive of one another,” she said. “It’s nice to see them supporting each other, but it’s a very pleasant thing to be a part of, too.  I have students who have gone on to college but they still keep in touch with me. They say the lessons they learned in skating were a great preparation for life beyond high school.”

Navigating the path to success for each skater can be as tricky as raising siblings, too. O’Brien said skaters are all a challenge because, despite their common interest in the sport, they are all individuals.

“They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and you have to find that thing that drives each of them,” she said. “You have to find a common ground with them to help them move forward toward their goals.”

That common ground, she said, can be achieved by simply communicating with students.

“It’s super important for kids to have a say, to have a part in what they’re doing,” she said. “They need to be a part of the decision-making process to help them take ownership of their skating. It also gives them such a feeling of empowerment to be a part of that process.”

So, after they’ve grown and flown, how does O’Brien feel?

“It’s gratifying,” she said. “It’s such a proud moment to know I’ve helped them to grow. I really enjoy hearing from them and getting little thank-you notes – and hugs.”