Michael Weiss Foundation Honors Don Lawsby Jake Duhaime, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Photo by (c) Andrea Chempinski
(9/23/05) - Don Laws, coach of 1984 Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton and three-time U.S. champion Michael Weiss, was honored Sept. 17 with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” as part of the Michael Weiss Foundation Fundraiser.
The fundraiser, which featured Weiss, six-time U.S. champion Todd Eldredge and five-time U.S. ice dancing champions Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev, raised more than $25,000 for scholarships awarded to promising skaters.
“You could say I was blindsided” said Laws, who received the honor by surprise at the end of the event. “I really didn't know what to say. I guess I haven't done too badly I suppose.”
Weiss presented his coach with a crystal trophy which was inscribed with the following message:
“The Michael Weiss Foundation presents the Lifetime Achievement Award to Donald E. Laws. Appreciating 52 years of Coaching Excellence for the Sport of Figure Skating.”
“It's nice to finally give him some public recognition for all the hard work he's done and his dedication to young skaters” Weiss said. “He's really an amazing coach.”
The foundation also named an award in honor of Laws. The Donald E. Laws Distinguished Coaching Award will be awarded yearly by the Weiss Foundation, in addition to the scholarship money it awards to skaters.
"A lot of time the skaters are in the spotlight and the coach is usually behind the scenes,” Weiss said. “This award is designed to recognize coaches who work hard and dedicate themselves to the sport.”
Laws was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame both as a skater and a coach in 2001. He's a former U.S. junior champion, U.S. junior dance champion and a former World Team member. Currently he serves on the International Skating Union's Singles and Pairs Committee.
“He's been in the sport for such a long time that he really has seen everything,” Weiss said. "When I'm working with him, I don't have to explain anything to him because he usually already knows.”
Weiss and Laws have only worked together for a few years, but they've quickly gone from being skater and coach to good friends.
“The whole Weiss family is close and functions closely,” Laws said. “I feel like one of them. They treat me like family.”
“He's almost like a wise uncle,” Weiss said. “It's weird - we go to a competition somewhere and he'll see a judge, or an official, or a board member and go ‘I coached them' or ‘I coached their son' or ‘I coached their daughter.' It seems like he's coached everyone in the sport, and you see what a large impact he's had on a lot of young lives."