Kori Ade (coach of Jason Brown):
Jason has proven himself to be a really good competitor, but I didn’t know how the factor of being senior at Nationals would affect him. It pretty much felt like he could bring his tricks and all his Jason-isms. But on the warmup, he said to me, this is different. So there’s a moment of hesitation, but then I kicked into my regular coaching, and said, this is not different. It’s like every other day in your skating world. Just go out there and do what you always do, which is skate a great program, and give the audience what they want. And I think that’s what Jason is starting to do. His idol is Ryan Bradley and I think he really wants to emulate that, to give the crowd that, because Jason’s a pleaser. He never wants to disappoint anybody, so I think he understands the importance of making it a performance in order to please the audience. That’s an important asset that he’s developing. It’s going to take some time for him to really be able to hang with the big boys, but for what we had hoped for tonight, he was actually able to deliver what we thought.
I have some kids that need different rituals [at the boards]. I have one who needs two claps, with a pause, two double high-fives, with a pause — I have to know the timing [laughs] — so it’s all choreographed for that boy. But then there are others that just want me to say ‘go get ‘em’. I just try to read, to be a chameleon, and I think because of my 11-year relationship coaching Jason, the thing he needs the most is to remember that I believe in him, and to know that when it’s over, regardless of the outcome, I’m going to be standing there with open arms and it’s gonna be fine.
Tonight I sat down while he was doing his 45-minute warm up and I wrote him a three-page letter. All week, while he’s been home and I’ve been here with my novice competitor, he’s been asking for motivational quotes on his text messages. I really avoided doing it, because I don’t want to sound clichéd and say, keep your head up, keep working hard — that’s so generic at this point. I said, I’ll give you your motivational stuff when it’s time for you to hear it. So I sat there and I knew that’s when it was going to hit me, that I had gotten a skater to senior level from march-march-glide. That’s a huge journey, a long, long journey.
So I wrote a three-page letter, and I said — I knew that when I met Jason, he presented me with the greatest challenge that I could be presented with as a coach. And I knew that it would take a lot of directing his energy and harnessing his talent, and a lot of education for me. Because I don’t have a strong competitive background, I didn’t intend to be a coach. I intended to have a career in medicine, and I sort of got looped into coaching and had to learn to be a great coach. So I believe in the power of learning, and I believe that having a skater like Jason has allowed me the opportunity to foster that, because I had to. So I don’t know — it’s probably in my personality to keep learning, but I knew because of Jason that I had to do it. It wasn’t a choice, because I care about him.
And several times in my coaching journey with him, judges or officials have said, you know, it’s really in his best interests for you to pass him along to somebody. Because I wasn’t a well-known coach, I was a nobody. And I just am really grateful to the Brown family for trusting in me, and believing in me. My favorite story that I tell other coaches is that I had another skater that started with me when she was a beginner, and when she got to the double axel, her mother — even though she made final rounds at juvenile and was progressing really well — sat me down and said, you know, we think you’re wonderful, but we know you’ve never taught a double axel before, and we don’t want our child to be the guinea pig. And I remember those words so vividly. It was a pivotal moment for me, because it was at that moment that I said, I need to go learn, because I will never have this conversation again. Ever.
And I think that’s what forced me to seek out apprenticeships and to find people that I knew I trusted to guide me. And there have been a lot of people along the way who have said, you can’t do it, or, you don’t know what you’re talking about. And I think as a coach that hasn’t proven themselves, I’ll be up against that for the next ten years, and I’ve been up against it for the last ten years, but if it’s your passion, which it has become for me, you just keep your head up, and you keep showing up every day, and you’re consistent with what you do, and you find people that know a little bit better, and you just learn. And I have to say, I’m probably the biggest nerd there is, because I spent five years at Lake Arrowhead with a video camera and notes, sitting on the side of those elite sessions, watching those elite coaches teaching, and taking notes, and then going with my video camera and filming the tracings on the ice and figuring it out. I’ve probably spent $100,000 figuring out how to be a better coach. To me, that’s my master’s degree, and I think that’s what Jason has done for me, to force me to be the best coach I can be, and I thank him for that. Because if I didn’t have a talent like that, that I had to stay one step ahead of — that was the bulk of my letter. Congratulations on getting here, I’m so proud of you, thank you for letting me be on this journey with you, and it’s amazing that you have pushed me to this level. That’s cool that you asked me that question, I’ll let you read the letter [laughs].