View Full Version : Jennifer Kirk's blog: "... skating taught me far more than winning and losing"
05-03-2012, 10:39 PM
^this seems like an esoteric conversation for this site. We're all pretty much skating fan ubers who know more about the sport than just something we read in passing. I assume most of us didn't really read anything too new in Jenny's blog, which was pretty much confirming everything that's ever been written about Evy in the past. And since Evy's "side of the story" is usually something like "Geez, these kids today are too soft. When I was their age, a good day was when I didn't get smacked", it's also kinda funny.
05-03-2012, 10:41 PM
And since Evy's "side of the story" is usually something like "Geez, these kids today are too soft. When I was their age, a good day was when I didn't get smacked", it's also kinda funny.[/QUOTE]
That's sick, I don't see the humor in that at all...
05-04-2012, 12:13 AM
So if you're not saying she's lying, than you're saying she is telling the truth, so what's the problem? She's supposed to cover up this abuse? It's probably good for other young skaters to see that this is not normal or acceptable behavior for an adult.
I do not think jlai's point was to debate truth vs. lies. More, I think they were trying to touch on perception and bias more than to qualify what is true and what is a lie. Those terms are far too complex to be reduced to simple binary oppositions anyway. Peel that onion, friend.
I'm really grateful for Jenny's blog and her candid reflections upon her career. I really hope she can come to some peace with what, perhaps, still feels like an unfulfilled venture. Joyful memories of her experience seem to be rather few in numbers. Maybe we are witness to her growth, reconciliation, and therapy. There seems to have been a lot of trauma, and little joy. She seems to be still healing. I look forward to posts in the future that focus on the positive recollections, I hope at least she can find that elusive peace. Really appreciative of her brave admissions. That latest post could not have been easy to write.
05-04-2012, 12:21 AM
[QUOTE=jl22aries;3562218]I do not think jlai's point was to debate truth vs. lies. More, I think they were trying to touch on perception and bias more than to qualify what is true and what is a lie. Those terms are far too complex to be reduced to simple binary oppositions anyway. Peel that onion, friend.
05-04-2012, 12:50 AM
Ohh, Deme, "truth" is not concrete. But, don't worry about it.
05-04-2012, 01:09 AM
"Peel the onion," as in go beneath the surface. Few things, especially not relationships are either true or false, black or white.
For sure, there are probably a lot of healthy coach/ student relationships, Wyliefan, just as there are/ have been some unhealthy ones. Developing Healthy Coach/ Skater Relationships could be a helpful seminar topic at one of USFS' Champs Camps.
IMO, Jenny writes about what happened in a very beautiful, honest, reflective and straightforward way. As berthesghost observes: What Jenny relates, while personally revealing, is hardly that surprising to many in the skating world. What she describes about Evy in particular, IMO, is certainly not meant to betray him. Neither does Jenny relate what happened between her and Evy in a malicious or derogatory way. And, in any case, as Jenny points out, Evy’s often “gruff” behavior as a coach was well known since before she trained with him:
My mom was repeatedly told by other parents that Evy was not the kind of coach with whom an impressionable, shy eleven-year-old girl, only two years into the sport, should train. But my mom and I refused to listen to their warnings.
I recall that Evy had very harsh words to say about Nancy Kerrigan when she had poor performances at 1993 Worlds, where she was considered the favored heir-apparent. But I am not intentionally attempting to judge him harshly simply because I remember that. He was apparently being brutally honest about how Nancy had skated, but of course it’s debatable whether he should have excoriated Nancy that way in the media. As far as sitting in judgment of Evy, we kinda all in many ways judge ourselves and each other every day. What I admire about Jenny’s writing is that she goes beyond judgment to self-discovery, to understanding and to forgiveness for Evy and for herself.
As in all of her blogs, Jenny provides a lot of food for thought which obviously sparks a lot of reflection among many people, including skaters and coaches at all levels (as can be seen from the public comments posted on her blog). As Jenny so aptly characterizes, her latest blog is about love and the break-up of a close relationship. She has kind words to say about Evy as well as truthful words, fond memories and painful memories:
He had energy and a spark that was infectious…
Within three days of working together, Evy got me to land my first triple…
[M]y relationship with Evy and Mary was one truly filled with love and a deep level of trust…
But with this level of intimacy comes a responsibility…
The ability for coaches to hold an intense form of power over their athletes is one of the most complex and potentially pernicious aspects of the skater-coach relationship. Coaches are presented with the opportunity to inflict serious psychological damage to skaters long after skaters have left the sport…
Coaches rely heavily on skaters’ trust, and often, skaters are so young when they begin their relationship with a coach that skaters have no idea what is acceptable behavior and what many would consider abuse…
Reading Evy’s words … that day after our split hurt me so badly because of how successfully he had etched the weight of his opinion into my mind. His opinion mattered; …
I learned so much more than triple jumps from Evy. I learned trust, the power that can result from intimacy and truly understanding another human being. And, unfortunately, I also learned the pain that can come from the severing of a relationship…
The last time I saw Evy was at Nationals, a year following our breakup. It was backstage, right before the final group of ladies were about to take the ice for our six-minute warmup. Evy’s and my eyes briefly met, and he smiled…
In that moment backstage before the event, … all I wanted was to have Evy back as my coach, to have him standing by the boards, waiting to give me one of his bear hugs when I finished my program… It’s a funny thing about breakups: You can move on, find someone who is perhaps better suited for you, but something is always lost. For me, it was my competitive fire…
This post was very difficult for me to write. Coaches must remember that they have a tremendous amount of responsibility… The power they have and the words they say have the ability to color the rest of a skater’s life… What I learned from my time with Evy and this first breakup is that unfortunately many great relationships must end—sometimes in messy and public ways—and the sting of the heartbreak may never truly fade but neither does the love.
"For sure, there are probably a lot of healthy coach/ student relationships, Wyliefan, just as there are/ have been some unhealthy ones. Developing Healthy Coach/ Skater Relationships could be a helpful seminar topic at one of USFS' Champs Camps.
To classify most relationships as healthy/unhealthy is also too simplistic. It's apparent from the blog entry that she has mixed emotions about her old coach, and deep down she still cares about him. Yes, they hurt each other--it happens in close relationships (not just coaches and students). And if it were me, and if feelings still existed between me and that person, the last thing I would want is for some outsider to rush to denounce that person I'd just spoken about, even if I had just written something about this person's flaws. Of course, my first choice is to have a face to face chat with that person. Shame this opportunity didn't present itself in this cae.
05-04-2012, 01:51 PM
Yep, nothing is simplistic that involves relationships between people. Kudos to Jenny for sharing this complicated relationship/ experience she went through. We don't all make the same choices in life, unsurprisingly. It's clear to me that Jenny didn't write this in order for any "innocent bystanders" to rush to judgment. Food for thought for everyone ... and self-reflection is a good thing.
05-04-2012, 02:53 PM
Of course, my first choice is to have a face to face chat with that person. Shame this opportunity didn't present itself in this cae.:confused: they both have phones and email and common friends, so this "opportunity" presents itself daily for over a decade now, and it's obviously not an opportunity either is interested in taking. Talk about shames, the real shame here IMHO is that a grown adult man in the authority position lashed out at a child in the public press with petty lies. But that's how Evy chose to deal with it. Face to face heart to hearts is obviously not Evy's first choice, but he's not me, so whatever. He deals with things his way, and Jenny deals with things hers.
05-04-2012, 03:11 PM
Evy has never been subtle. I can remember him publicly saying that at every competition, he'd look at Tonya Harding's butt and thighs. If her weight was up, he knew Nancy wouldn't have to worry about her. If she was slimmed down, "they were in trouble." OK, I can understand him checking out the competition, but good grief, he had to say this out loud to the press??? One of the rare times I ever felt sorry for Tonya.
I think it took Jenny a long time to sort out her feelings about this situation. And I also think she may have backed off from ever speaking to him again on the risk of him blowing her off or being his usual, obnoxious self and further traumatizing herself. That said, she presented the story fairly, she didn't paint Evy as a demon, just stated what had happened. Personally, I thought she went pretty easy on him. And I agree with whoever said he probably lashed out because they were losing a potential champion when she left. The Scotvolds haven't exactly been swimming in medalists since Jenny departed.
On a side note, picking up on Jenny's first theme, here's an interesting article about Nancy and her perfection and failure demons, written just before she was assaulted; makes me wonder what would have played out if the "whack" never occurred:
:confused: they both have phones and email and common friends, so this "opportunity" presents itself daily for over a decade now, and it's obviously not an opportunity either is interested in taking. Talk about shames, the real shame here IMHO is that a grown adult man in the authority position lashed out at a child in the public press with petty lies. But that's how Evy chose to deal with it. Face to face heart to hearts is obviously not Evy's first choice, but he's not me, so whatever. He deals with things his way, and Jenny deals with things hers.
I didnt mean physical opportunities. I have had people just like Evy in close relationships, andit is pretty clear I will never get a chance to have a heart to heart chat with them, and not because we dont have email or anything. If I were in her shoes I would want to speak out in an alternative way, the same way Jenny posted her blog. To me that is the "substitute" for talking to that person and explaining myself.
Relationships like this are so hard. You know that person had done so much for you but there were critical moments when that person did sth to you that hurt. You can dwell on the negative and go on and on, but you can also dwell on the positive part. Eitherway that
experience becomes part of you and that is who you have become
05-04-2012, 04:05 PM
Jenny K wrote a very elegant and insightful piece. But while she believed Evy told deliberate lies to the press, could it be that he really thought, based on something someone else said, that Jenny ran off to be a boy, especially if she never explained anything to him in person, and her dad was unlike to bring up the issue even if it were true? And Jenny said herself that she never talked to her dad about more personal things at that point in her life.
While Evy sounds brutally honest, harsh, to the point of being unkind, from all the other stories it doesn't seem like he would deliberately make up some slanderous lie to ruin someone else's career/life?
This is not to say that Evy might not have done better by not mentioning the "boy" to the press; he should've probably kept it quiet even if he really believed it. But I think Jenny would feel better to think that it wasn't a lie, it was just what he was led to believe due to the obvious breakdown in their communications and his trying to comprehend why she was leaving their coaching camp based on what other people were saying (including untrue rumors).
05-05-2012, 12:07 AM
I think it took Jenny a long time to sort out her feelings about this situation. And I also think she may have backed off from ever speaking to him again on the risk of him blowing her off or being his usual, obnoxious self and further traumatizing herself.
I've been reading through the posts here, trying to figure out which one to respond to, because I am in a similar situation as the one Jenny wrote about (not as an athlete/coach scenario though). Her post about her first "breakup" really struck a strong chord in me. I have been estranged since December from someone who, while he has been a help to me in the past 7 years in a "spiritual sensei" sort of way, he also has done and said things that have come across as hurtful/disrepectful. I finally said I'd had enough 6 months ago, and I walked away, not before saying some choice things that were my (clouded) impressions of the relationship at that time.
I, too, have thought lately about approaching this person, but his possible reaction has held me back, because I had said some things that I shouldn't have said. That's the thing when you go about attempting to reconcile with someone - the possibility that they will repell your efforts, and you really have to be prepared for that.
05-05-2012, 02:38 AM
That's interesting Karina1974. I know someone who is currently going through a difficult breakup after 14 years together -- so complicated and difficult not only for the two people involved but also for their extended families.
Jennifer's characterization of the split with her coach as her "first break-up" does strike a strong chord I think for everyone regardless of the type of relationship break-up we each personally recall. What Jenny experienced is very thought-provoking, heartbreaking and something we likely all can relate to/ empathize with in different ways. But the key thing about Jenny's situation and what she emphasizes is:
The ability for coaches to hold an intense form of power over their athletes is one of the most complex and potentially pernicious aspects of the skater-coach relationship... [S]katers are so young when they begin their relationship with a coach that skaters have no idea what is acceptable behavior and what many would consider abuse…
In Jenny's situation, the coach as the adult held a great deal more power and responsibility. I think, feraina, that you make some interesting points, but ultimately whatever Evy's motivation and intention was for what he said to the press, it was unwise and detrimental for him to do that. Jennifer does not go into great detail about her decisions to move to another coach, but obviously her decision was extremely difficult and then made worse by Evy's words to the press. Despite his being hurt by Jenny's departure, as the adult, it would have behooved Evy not to say what he did to the press, whether he knew it to be true, untrue, or gossip. And, I think Jenny makes it clear that Evy's statement to the press was purposefully and knowledgeably untrue.
The most important point I think Jennifer makes is that coach-skater relationships are extraordinarily complicated, which makes it even more important for coaches to exert their power wisely. IMO, a good example of how to conduct oneself is that of Frank Carroll, e.g., when Michelle Kwan broke up with him. It was extremely hard for both of them, but Michelle spoke to Frank in person, and Frank (although he was obviously hurt and bewildered) responded in a professional manner. He told the press what Michelle told him was the reason for the breakup and then he had great things to say about Michelle and wished her well. Michelle too made sure she told Frank in person and not by phone. It was obviously a difficult decision for Michelle, one that surely impacted how she fared in her fp skate at the 2002 Olympics.
I recall reading that Michelle and Frank were so close during their skater-coach relationship, that they began completing each others' sentences circa 1998 - 2001. The good thing is that Frank despite their closeness, knew it was ultimately as he always mentioned, "a business relationship." He was unlikely to have made Michelle feel that he depended upon her success. Yet, who knows how even under the best of skater-coach circumstances the ways in which such bonds have an impact on skaters. I wonder if Michelle ever felt that "something was lost" when she broke up with Frank. Certainly, the break-up did not affect her competitive desire, but it may have had some logistical and psychological effects. In any case, despite the awkwardness, the sadness and the hurt of parting, I think Michelle and Frank were able to maintain a deep respect and admiration for each other, and were both also able to move forward in positive ways.
...It’s a funny thing about breakups: You can move on, find someone who is perhaps better suited for you, but something is always lost.
That sounds kinda scary, especially in a romantic break-up. It seems to signal that the weaker partner in the relationship (Jenny as the young athlete, or in the case of a romantic breakup whichever partner was overly trying to please) lost a part of their self because of psychological damage. But it makes me ponder whether even in a more balanced, healthy relationship (be it romantic or otherwise), if the bonds were deep, is something also still lost (of course the relationship itself is, but what else)? Hopefully, if the relationship was not abusive, the "something lost" is not as dire, but perhaps just part of the changes and transitions that we must all go through in our lives.
05-05-2012, 05:05 PM
Even in the healthiest relationships, you lose something when they end.
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