Steamboat Skating Club Fosters Inclusivity, Community

The club creates an environment to build and forge friendships and to foster a sense of community both on and off the ice.

Above: Members of the Steamboat Skating Club star in the club’s annual ice show. Photo by Walker and Son Photography

The following story appeared in the June/July 2024 issue of SKATING magazine. Click here to purchase a subscription. 

By Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz

The following story appeared in the June/July 2024 issue of SKATING magazine. Click here to purchase a subscription.

Steamboat Skating Club coach Dana Tracy loves being a part of a club with skaters and parents who genuinely love learning, performing and training every day. 

A group of skaters form a human pyramid by climbing on each others back. Some are looking down while others are smiling at each other
SSC members participate in a team-building pyramid. Photo by Dana Tracy

But it’s the club’s inclusive environment and a unique team-focused hybrid instructional program that Tracy and fellow coaches Courtney Gill, Rachel McCormick, Cheryl Fullerton and skating director Kelli Standekar find sets their program apart.

The club of 50 skaters trains year-round at the Howelsen Ice Arena and draws from a diverse community in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and greater Routt County.

“Our collaborative team-oriented teaching structure offers hybrid group and private instruction to all members, providing the opportunity for every athlete to work with each coach over the course of a season,” Tracy said.

Weekly group lessons based on the U.S. Figure Skating test levels are customized to accommodate the skating skills and competition levels as applicable to the club’s roster.

“These sessions are included in each skater’s monthly club dues and promote a positive collaborative learning environment, while teaching fundamental techniques in a multi-aged group setting,” Tracy said.

The approach was established to optimize instruction time for different levels. Skaters below Free Skate 1 have one hour of club time ice time per week, while higher levels have between two and five hours, with additional freestyle sessions and private lessons as the schedule allows.

The club is most proud of its inclusivity, building and forging friendships and fostering a sense of community both on and off the ice.

“On the training side, club members at Basic 5 and above have access to off-ice training including ballet, yoga, strength and conditioning with team building and technical workshops to supplement the on-ice training,” Tracy said.

Off-ice classes are taught by coaches and professional dance and yoga instructors from the local community.

“Their experience and expertise make it possible for SSC to hold regular community- building workshops with our club members that are creative, self-confidence enhancing and fun,” Tracy said.

The club also requires family members to complete at least 10 working hours to support the club each season. This can include playing music during practice sessions, organizing and/or hosting club parties and social events, and creating sets or costumes for its annual ice show. A much herald of spring, the show serves as an yearly fundraiser and a venue for attracting new members.

“Their efforts are essential to the overall success of the program and are integral to the sense of community that we foster both on and off the ice,” Tracy said.

Social events such as Halloween pumpkin carving, Friendsgiving and Valentine’s Craft Day also help to forge friendships off the ice.

Equally important are the club’s need-based scholarships awarded each season.

“The Steamboat Skating Club provides $5,000 to members of our club who would otherwise not be able to afford ice time and instruction,” Tracy said. “These scholarships are based on merit and require the recipients to uphold our club standards for sportsmanship and team-building while demonstrating a positive attitude and work ethic. Without the SSC’s financial support, many of our scholarship recipients would be unable to train and compete each season.”

By prioritizing a positive experience for member families and coaching staff, Steamboat Springs has retained existing members and grown its club roster each season.

“Our coaching staff’s ability to work seamlessly as a team, willingness to pivot to accommodate competition schedules, juggle classes and private instruction, while supporting our club members and each other is what makes our unique instructional model possible,” Tracy said. “And as a small club within a community, there is a general feeling of camaraderie and kindness that serves as a foundation for all that we do.”