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Team Florida!
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Team Parent Debbie Bowe

Debbie Bowe (mother of Jr World Team

 member Brittany Bowe)  and other Team

USA parents at the 2004 World Championships in Italy.


1.      How did you first hear about speed skating? 

In March 1996 Brittany was 8 years old and a guest at Skate Mania for her friend’s birthday. At the end of the party Coach Renee Hildebrand introduced herself to Brittany and me and told us about her speed skating team and said she was watching Brittany at the party and felt like she had potential. Brittany decided to attend Coach renee’s next practice in her store bought roller blades. After a few practices Brittany bought a pair of used hardshell Bonts complete with wheels and a frame from the Skate Mania pro shop manager, Bill. Brittany liked the sport, the team, and coach and we immediately became hooked. There were two experienced parents, Teri Hogsten and David Gordon that took the lead to help us understand the sport and get us organized. Coach Renee discussed with Brittany and me the plan to register her for her first meet. That meet just happen to be the 1997 Regional Championship held at the Civic Center in Pensacola. What an introduction to the competitive world of speed skating. 

2.      What did you think of it the first time you attended a practice? 

The first practice we attended was so new and exciting to me. I knew it would be lengthy because Coach Renee had prepared us for the time commitment. Brittany was very fast, but had NO technique. I kept looking at the more experienced skater and said aloud, “I can’t imagine Britt ever getting the technique”. Well how wrong I was and how right the other parents and Coach Renee were. Coach said she did not want to slow her down, and she will grow into the technique. Coach also was quick to praise Brittany and make her feel very welcome to the team. I also felt very welcome from the parents, the skaters and Coach. 

3.      How do you think speed skating benefits your child? 

The benefits of speed skating are numerous for Brittany. They include: decision making skills, time management, sportsmanship, team work, travel opportunities, friendships, role modeling, business opportunities, speaking engagements, coaching/mentoring, good health, and most important……………FUN. 

4.      Do you think there are any drawbacks to speed skating? 

The drawbacks of skating for Brittany have been few because of our open relationship with Coach Renee and Britt’s other sport coaches. Coach Renee has always supported Brittany’s other sport team choices. At one point during for several years Britt was playing basketball, baseball, travel soccer and volleyball. We never felt pressure that Renee wanted Britt to skate only. I think that is why Britt has continued to love the sport of speedskating. Renee always validated that Britt’s other sports were complimenting (not replacing) skate practices and drills. As Brittany got older and academics became more challenging in 8th grade and highschool she narrowed her team sports to two………skating and basketball. The drawback could have been the pressure from Coach Renee to make a narrow minded choice, but we have never felt that. Brittany is very self driven and motivated and from my parent viewpoint for a few years when she was juggling several sports running from practice to practice and school work she had very little time to relax. 

5.      What do you think could be done to get speed skating more widely recognized? 

I think there is much room for further recognition for the sport. I think there are so many different efforts that are put forth by so many wonderful coaches, parents, skaters, USARS, NIRA etc. For those folks that know me in the skate world they know I do not get involved in the negative conversation. Being a skate mom since 1997 and traveling with Brittany to local, regional, national and international competitions has given me a long observation period. As a counselor by profession and a college administrator the last eight years the dynamics of speed skating have given me an opportunity to witness things that I probably never would have had.

Until the day each becomes united with a common purpose and leaves their egos and biased and close mindedness out of the goal, I do not see much room for positive recognition. Each skater and parent has an obligation to promote the great accomplishments. It starts at the local level with t.v., radio, school, newspaper etc. It does not necessarily mean that you flaunt the skater medals, trophies, accomplishments, but the chance to tell people about our sport and the benefits of speedskating.

6.      Do you stay to watch practice regularly? 

Yes, I have always stayed to watch Brittany’s practices. I think parents should stay to support their skater, the team and the coach. However, I have never crossed the line thinking that I am the coach. My role is to get Britt water, snacks, and to give moral support sometimes through silence and most often through positive comments of cheers for the entire team. For the last several years I have served as one of the team moms to support Coach Renee’s requests for the team’s benefit. 

7.      Do you go to the speed meets? 

Yes, I do attend most of the speed meets. Sometimes my husband, Brooke and I are all in attendance. Since Brittany is older there are some meets where she will attend without us and be with her sponsored team. Most often these situations are a one or two day marathon type event. I think it is important to try to attend as much of what your child is involved in as possible. 

8.      How can parents help build a successful team? 

Parents can help build a successful team by being willing to have faith in the team coach, be willing to volunteer positive energy and time, and allow their child to set his/her goals. Let the child and the coach decide what is best for the skate accomplishments. When parents belittle the coach, or another parent, or team mate it takes away from building a successful team. We, the parents, need to set the practice conditions so the coach is free from worry and has the opportunity to tune into our skater. A successful team needs parent leadership with the idea that everybody is important at every level. It is also very important that we allow our skater to skate for herself and not vicariously through the parent.   

9.       Do you think your family will still be involved with speed skating 10 years from now? 

Yes, I do think we will be involved in speed skating in some capacity. Brittany may be skating, and/or she may be coaching. Regardless, I know the friendships that we have developed from speed skating will last much longer than 10 years.