About the Coach

Updated: Apr 8




Team USA 2003 - Junior World Class (17 & Under) - bound for Worlds in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


No car seats, no airbags, no AC—just a brown and gray daycare van crammed full of four-year-olds, on our way to the local roller rink in the summer of 1989.

I was four years old.

The rink's AC was cool, the front desk's buzzer grated my ears, I walked in.

This is the turning point. I entered the rink, the floor was dimly lit, the music deafened us as we walked in single file. We see the skate counter. My preK friends and I hastily gave the attendee our shoes at the skate room counter.

I had just rented my own skates.

My parents weren't with me, so I had to figure this out. I tied my own skates my first day, not very well, but all the way to the top.

I've tied them every day since.

The anticipation and joy of putting on my skates gave me the frissons (goosebumps), as well as wheels and wings. Marching like a penguin, I made my way to the floor's edge.

All doubts were mute. This is my thing. This is my first session, my first of all firsts.

One day in 1989 changed my life and the life of those I'd meet as a result of skating. I knew I had started something I had to do all the time. I had found the proverbial door and I had already walked through it.

Fortunately, I had parents who rallied behind me. Skating had come into my life like an epiphany and there was no way of ignoring it now. I knew something was different about me and it was quite simple: I just had to skate.

There was never a day I missed skating—that is until I learned the rink was open outside of weekday hours.

Once a week turned into once-a-week and on Saturdays. Rollercade's owner, a former competitive skater, finally told me after years of me jumping and spinning on her floor that I should try another local rink where I could work directly with a world champion coach and go as far as I'd like.

Next stop: Chester, Virginia.

I walk into my new rink, not sure what to expect. For the first time in my short life, I could observe 50+ other skaters doing things I had been trying to do on my own but with a plan and execution happening live, right there in front of me. They'd been at the rink for 5 hours before "club," which was another 90 min drill session.

My sport was real.

I watched them trace circles (figures) painted in black on a yellow, particle-board floor. I hear a blues start overhead, and they're changing skates.

They drilled dances in the American style roller skating, which I'd learn that day is one of two styles of dance.

I watched boys my age skate with their partners skate down the floor while supporting their partners overhead with two arms, then one arm! Then, I hear from the coach (Cindy):

Faster this time. Again.

I had found a window.
And it looked (and felt) like this:

My partner, Shannon, and I goofing around a few years after retiring. We skated together for nearly a decade and won several national championships. We're still close; I'm officiating her wedding next year. Time flies...

I grew up skating in Petersburg until my first year of competition. By then, I was still a preteen, I got three (3) kinds of skates, I trained 5 days a week. I got a figure coach, a dance coach, and a freestyle coach, all of whom happened to be world champions in their own specializations.

Even then, I knew my specialization would be pairs skating (video below), and I had to earn my right to specialize, train with Olympians, and represent the USA, which I accomplished all before starting college.

MY FIRST NATIONALS (see stats below)
If I thought club in Chester, Virginia on my first day was exciting, I was about to go to the mental Olympics (in my young mind) at Nationals in 1999, which looked like this (video below), though it's a compilation from worlds of the same year.

I skated 1999's nationals came home this year with two gold medals (freestyle and pairs) and never competed in nationals thereafter without coming home with a gold or silver medal.

Back then, I wasn't sure I'd ever know a greater passion than skating but skating brought many gifts with the relationship I crafted with the sport.

It also gifted my pre-teen and teen years with weekly and biweekly traveling and a tremendous new tool: email. Now, I could skate AND be a teenager (keep up with school). Most importantly, it took me out of my small town (which I love, but it never felt like home) and put me on planes to places around the world, which I later learned was home in and of itself.

Skating presented its own challenges: clashes in philosophy, approach, and execution. Most importantly, it taught me to fail (and how to fall) and work with others (also fail/fall with them). Failure, falling is awkward but it's the only consistent factor in any successful story.

Skating gave me the experience to build a life and friends for a lifetime.

I've walked this path before. It was a daily practice. I'd later learn, skating was the beginning of my fight for French in life, at work, and at play. Skating taught me to set goals and fight for them. It taught me to fail and to identify my values. This is why I made a promise to myself in 2010, shortly before finishing college, that I would never work at a company or do work for a client where French wasn't involved and being valued. I've worked around the world from the US and abroad and never broken that promise to myself. This promise is one reason, among others, why our classes, the rink's site, and our future together is already bilingual and will be as long as I'm involved. Share the news with an immersion family! Viens patiner ! (Come skate!)

My promise to you
Skating's lessons can be learned at any age and returning to skating is about doing my part. It's at the top of my life's great honors to come full circle with a rink like Fun Nation, offering who I am to my community, and building something that has never existed (for us) before. #ViveLaLouisiane

I look forward to working with you and however far your desire dictates you to go, I'll be there.

See our media tab for clips and videos of modern roller figure skating.


Learn more about my career in skating below.
MY COACHES | links open videos in a new tab... • Cindy Shrader (née Smith) & Mark HowardAndy Grubbs (dance) and Cathy Grubs (freestyle & pairs) • Tony Berger (dance and freestyle)

• 1999 Junior Olympic (JO) 1B Boys Nat'l Champion (Gold) - Syracuse, NY • 1999 JO 1B Pairs National Champion (Gold) - Syracuse, NY
• 2000 JO 2B Boys National Champion (Silver) - Lincoln, NE • 2000 JO 2B Pairs National Champion (Gold) - Lincoln, NE
• 2001 Sophomore Pairs National Champion (Silver) - Pensacola, FL
• 2002 Sophomore Mens National Champion (Silver) - Lincoln, NE
• 2002 Olympic Training Center - Colorado Springs, CO
• 2003 Junior World Class Pairs (Silver) - Lincoln, NE
• 2003 World Roller Figure Skating Championships - Buenos Aires, Argentina • 2003 Olympic Training Center - Colorado Springs, CO
• 2004 - Trained with Tony Berger (OTC coach) - Melbourne, FL
• 2005 - World Class Pairs (6th) - Pensacola, FL • 2006-2008 - Trained in Paris with French team's coach

• Petersburg, Virginia (home rink) 1989-1998
• Chester, Virginia (home rink) 1998-2003
• Melbourne, Florida (2003-2004)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado (Olympic Training Center) 2001-2003
• Buenos Aires, Argentina (2003)
• Mount Arénal, Costa Rica (2005)
• Montréal, Québec (2011-2017)
• Garmisch, Germany (2007 & every Christmas) • Hamburg, Germany (2008) • Paris, France (2006-2008)
• Venice, Italy (2009)
• Rome, Italy • Richmond, Virginia
• Hampton, Virginia
• Washington, DC
• Atlanta, Georgia
• Pensacola, Florida
• Port Lucie, Florida
• Pensacola, Florida
• Christiana, Delaware
• Reading, Pennsylvania • Denora, Pennsylvania
• Orange County, California
• Beverly Hills, Florida
• Fresno, California
• Greensboro, North Carolina
• Lincoln, Nebraska

• French
• Italian
• German
• Spanish (intermediate)
• English

Hometown: Dinwiddie, Virginia
Homes: Arnaudville, Louisiana & Québec City, Québec.



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