New Howelsen figure skating coach brings years of experience
Steamboat Springs — Even before Stacy McAllister was offered the job to run Howelsen Ice Arena’s Learn to Skate figure skating program, she was certain of two things: She wanted to move to Colorado, and she wanted to spread her passion for the sport she had participated in for 16 years.
McAllister was not far removed from graduating with her degree in exercise science from Syracuse University when she suddenly found herself on the job hunt. So when she was browsing for learn-to-skate jobs online, that opportunity presented itself in the state she was looking for.
“I’m a very outdoorsy person,” McAllister said. “I like to run and ski and hike and bike, all those fun things. I knew Colorado had similar, like-minded people. That’s what brought me here.”
So McAllister uprooted her New England life nearly two months ago and drove two-thirds of the way across the country to Colorado, a state she never even had visited. It wasn’t until a few days after she arrived in Routt County that another opportunity came up, this time to be head coach of the Steamboat Springs Figure Skating Club, also offered through the ice arena.
Run two programs under one roof? No problem.
“This is kind of my dream job, honestly,” McAllister said. “Coaching skating is fun for me. It’s not even work at all. I love working with skaters, the kids and the adults.”
McAllister’s new gig comes on the heels of a deep background in figure skating competition and coaching.
While at Syracuse, she pulled double duty as president of the university’s freestyle skating club as well as serving as captain of the synchronized skating team. She also earned her Level A U.S. Figure Skating certification, allowing her to coach at competitions and test sessions, “the highest kind of certification,” she said.
Her life as a figure skater started in Maine and New Hampshire in the very same kind of learn-to-skate program she now runs, though it wasn’t smooth sailing in the beginning.
“I still skate for myself,” McAllister said. “Originally, I hated skating, the lessons and all that. My parents kind of bribed me to keep going.”
Eventually, she said, things clicked — so much so that she would travel fairly long distances to train and compete in the Northeast. She built a passion for skating that spilled over into coaching, specializing now in USFSA Learn to Skate, freestyle, choreography, synchronized skating and ice dance at Howelsen.
She already has a small contingent of private-lesson students, but a new cycle is set to begin Sunday for anyone interested in taking up the sport or sharpening the skills they already have. McAllister is hoping to build the club’s adult skaters and expand on her off-ice class, a course she just started.
It’s not an easy transition for the club’s students who are used to McAllister’s predecessor, Kim Haggarty, the new coach said. But she’s simply hoping to spread her love for the sport and get skaters new and old interested, even if they are just looking for another way to stay physically fit.
“I’d say the biggest goal for me is having skaters feel accomplished,” McAllister said. “Loving what they do. I love to share my passion with this sport. I love skating, and I like to pass that on to other skaters.”
Registration is ongoing for the new session, which starts Sunday and runs through March.
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