Saturday, February 08, 2014

Ripples, or, You Never Know What Effect You'll Have

You just never know how your efforts will ripple out from you. Here's my current favorite example:

You may have seen this video of Jason Brown at US National Figure Skating Championships in January:

There is a backstory to this that you don't know.

My sister, Page Polk Lipe, has loved figure skating since the age of 2, when she insisted that those stupid double bladed skates were simply not good enough for her, not even on the frozen pond on which we were skating. That love kept her skating throughout grade school, high school, college at an Ivy League university, time traveling with an ice show, and eventually into coaching.

Page has been a figure skating coach for 36 years. In that time, she's had well over a thousand students, ranging from tiny tots in the local parks and recreation skating program to national and international competitors. One of her first national competitors was a boy named Rohene Ward. His mom was a single mom of two, doing the best she could with no support from his dad, and there was no way she could pay for figure skating for her very talented son. Page took him under her wing: she treated him like her third child, often picking him up and dropping him off so he could get to the rink. Many nights, Rohene stayed with Page and her family. She even found sponsors for him, to pay for his ice time, etc.

After a reasonably successful amateur career, Rohene joined an ice show that tours Europe. He's a headliner in the show now. In the off season, he's a coach and choreographer.

This is from the Minneapolis StarTribune:

"Rohene Ward didn’t get to watch from a front-row seat as the performance he choreographed was unveiled last month. While his pupil [Jason] Brown was bringing down the house at the U.S. figure skating championships in Boston, Ward was in Germany, on tour with an ice show.

"Brown had never heard of “Riverdance’’ when Ward, his co-coach and choreographer, suggested a free-skate program based on the Irish step dance. By the time he got to Boston, he had mastered Ward’s symphony of intricate footwork, dazzling spins and athletic jumps. Brown’s performance earned a riotous standing ovation and a stunning second-place finish at the national championships, vaulting him past more seasoned competitors and onto the Olympic team.

"Ward didn’t have an opportunity to see Brown’s skate until it popped up on YouTube, but he had envisioned it a million times. “In my heart, I was there,’’ said Ward, 30, who competed in four national championships and trained at Parade Ice Garden under coach Page Lipe. “It’s still surreal to me. Did I want to skate in the Olympics myself? Of course. But to help someone else reach their dreams, I feel blessed.’’

"During his own competitive career, Ward did much of his own choreography. In 2008, he teamed up with Brown’s coach, Kori Ade, first in suburban Chicago and later in Colorado. Brown was only 12 when Ward started working with him, pushing him to be an athlete while shaping him into an artist.

"This season, Ward was inspired by the spirit of the Winter Games to design a program that would challenge Brown to discover just how good he could be. Their collaboration has now been viewed more than 3.3 million times on YouTube. [It's up to 3.6 million views as I write this. -H]

"A heavy schedule of ice-show performances will prevent Ward from being in Sochi, too, but his fellow cast members already are planning a party to celebrate the Olympic debut of his fancy footwork. “Page taught me to love the sport and to be an athlete,’’ he said. “The only way I can give back is to give that to someone else. With Jason, I shared my love of being an athlete and an artist. And he’s soaked it up like a sponge.’’

Page inspired Rohene with her love of the sport of figure skating. Eventually, that ended up rippling out into the program you just watched. You never know how what you do will ripple out, therefore always share your knowledge, your wisdom and your highest instincts with those around you.

Fight back!