Club Update: May 15, 2020

Dear Member,

This is your Captain’s log update for May 15, 2020. Reporting from the (remote) bridge of The Skating Club of Boston. It has been exactly 2 months since we closed the Club on the evening of March 15th. Almost 9 weeks. 61 days. 1,464 hours. You get my point. It’s been a long time, and we are all ready for a positive change.

Opening Protocol
Once we have received the state and city guidelines for re-opening, we will review and update the draft policies that we have developed for the Club’s re-imagined operations. In the meantime, we continue to refine what we are planning for the safety of our members, coaches and employees. Everyone’s safety is of paramount concern. It will make no sense to re-open, to only become a hot spot for infection. There is too much at risk for everyone’s individual safety, and to the reputation and immediate and future operations of the Club. We have to operate in the most conservative manner possible, at least through the first several weeks of re-opening. We will then have a handle on renewed operations, and we’ll know more about the direction of the crisis in our surrounding environment. What bears repeating from last week is that no matter what the Club does for implementing safety measures, our success will still all come down to each of us as individuals. We must respect ourselves and our fellow community members by willingly, closely and consistently following all established protocols for membership, coach and employee safety. That will start with open and honest answers to the Club’s health-screening questionnaire. Don’t enter the Club if you pose any possible risk to the community. We will credit you for your ice. Not an issue. And you will be able to skate again. If we can eliminate the obvious sources of risk and contamination from coming into the Club, I think we are halfway there to creating a maximally safe environment for the entire community. We will only then be protecting ourselves against the more challenging asymptomatic sources of transmission.

Face Masks
My conclusion from everything I have been reading and hearing is that face masks are a key tool in blocking the transition of the COVID19 virus. They certainly cannot be ignored. And that means we also cannot ignore consideration of a Club policy that requires their use while skating. There are numerous arguments for and against athletes training in masks, as it weighs the safety of the individual against the safety of the group. I have been talking to doctors, coaches and members, while also reading a whole slew of the literature on what is known and suspected about the airborne transmission of the virus. (I encourage everyone interested to go online themselves and maybe start reading with Dr. Erin Brommage from here in Massachusetts.) While we haven’t made a final decision regarding the practice, I encourage everyone to at least get accustomed to the idea. Some coaches already have their skaters training off-ice in masks, and I have heard that many of the coaches in Russia have used training in masks to prepare their skaters for high-altitude competitions. (Luckily, we will have a high-altitude training room in the new facility so we’ll be able to improve on that technique in the very near future.) The final Club policy regarding mask use while at the Club will be included in our written protocol for re-opening.

Ice Allocation
With reduced capacities now necessary in the building and on the ice, we will be examining all sessions and re-allocating some skaters to other sessions during the day to meet the lower capacity requirements. We will also be prioritizing contracted skaters. Contracting skaters have made a commitment to the Club, and when it has been inconvenient or impossible for them to skate, they have still met the obligations of their contract. In good faith, the Club will also keep its commitments to these skaters. After the re-allocation and acceptance of new sessions from contracted skaters, we will then know what sessions have available spots. We are still evaluating the fairest means of assigning those sessions next. More information will be forthcoming as we confirm the entire plan. But contracted skaters should be expecting outreach from their coaches inquiring as to flexibility in their schedule to move sessions. Please respond to your coach and not the front office. We are asking all members to be as flexible and accommodating as possible to make room for as many skaters as possible. We need to do this together. This might also include a request to contracted skaters with multiple sessions to consider turning back some sessions to accommodate walk-on skaters.

Instagram Live Archives
I continue to really enjoy Jimmy Morgan’s Instagram Live interviews. I am learning so much about different Club members from Jimmy’s fun and kickback conversations. Last week’s interview with Simon Shnapir has been posted on the Club website and can be seen along with the interviews with Jimmy’s previous guests. I learned so much fun stuff about Simon! He has such an interesting journey to the Olympic podium. (You might even call it a hero’s journey.) But I think I loved the story of Tenley’s mittens the most. Look for it! Jimmy’s guests tomorrow will be the Club’s rising national pair team of Cate Fleming and Jedidiah Isbell. The Club’s Instagram Live segment is each Saturday at 1:00 pm on the Club’s Instagram page. If you miss it, the interviews are posted shortly afterwards on the Club’s website under the About, and then the News & Media links.

Club Awards
For the safety of the membership, and in accordance with likely government guidelines to still be in effect for June, we will be hosting the annual Club awards event virtually this year. Are you ready to Zoom?! The Awards ceremony will be Friday, May 29th, at 7:00 pm from the safety of our homes. Jimmy Morgan will be leaving Instagram momentarily to serve as our very special event emcee. It promises to be a fun and more intimate celebration via our personal computers and other devices. We believe it was important not to cancel this annual event as so many skaters and volunteers achieved so much this past season. Please join in! Grab a snack, a beverage of choice and share in the many achievements of particular note in our community this year. Details about the event and information on how to access it on your devices will be forthcoming in your inboxes.

Weekly Wisdom
This week we will be making lemonade. The beverage just happens to be my all-time favorite drink throughout the year, especially if it is cold, tart and not too sweet. But I am thinking less about my drink of choice here, and more of how we confront obstacles, disappointments and changes to plans. When life is lobbing lemons at us, do we pivot and get out the juicer and plan for lemonade? Or do we stand immobile and risk turning as sour as the lemons? I think we most always have a choice. I firmly believe there is an opportunity at almost every unwanted twist or unplanned turn that comes our way. They may not always be immediately evident, but given a little time and patience, an interest in problem-solving, and some thought, a creative solution can almost always be found. And sometimes, these workarounds and solutions will lead to something even better. Or at the very least, something more palatable. COVID19 has been lobbing an awful lot of lemons at us all of late. And we may still get a few more this week, depending on what the Governor and the Mayor decide about re-opening.

Stay safe and sane inside insanity everyone. And use a juicer for your lemons! It helps when there is quantity.


Doug Zeghibe
Executive Director