Coach Spotlight: Doug Mattis, Choreographer
“I am a firm believer that Riedell is the go-to boot maker!”
– Doug Mattis
1. How are you involved in the figure skating industry?
I’ve worked as a figure skating choreographer for more than 20 years and many of those years I spent as a main coach. Currently, I am exclusively a freelance choreographer.
I was lucky early in my coaching career to have my skaters make Nationals. Since then, however, I’ve been most proud to coach with a focus on how skating can enrich personal expression and life skills. It’s amazing to witness the development of young people who take the discipline and dedication they’ve learned through skating and translate it into being successful adults. All skaters can learn life skills that will benefit them throughout their lives—whether they make the Olympic Team or not!
I also co-produce Young Artists Showcase (YAS), a non-profit choreography competition that seeks to demonstrate to all skaters (not just the YAS competitors) that they can have a voice in the artistry and expression of skating through choreography. After just three seasons, YAS has participants from beginner and adult skaters to skaters who are World Team competitors. Our goal is to help young skaters see that their creativity is what will make future figure skaters as thrilled as they’ve been for 100 years.
2. How did you first become interested in figure skating?
My brother, Bill, was on a hockey team and his coach asked my mom to take him to public ice skating sessions to improve his skating skills. One day, we went to the ice rink as a family and I LOVED IT. Within months, I was in my first competition and I became hooked. The sport combined a lot of things I was already interested in as a 10 year-old: athletics, music, performance, competition and creativity. I was a “lifer” from day one.
3. What do you love about figure skating?
The combination of athleticism, artistry and creativity. What we do looks like “magic” to a lot of people who have never skated or have only tried it a few times. I believe that great entertainment takes the audience to a place that (for whatever reason) they don’t believe they can get to on their own. Skating has the ability to transport the audience in this way.
4. Why put your trust in Riedell?
I started in Riedells! I won many competitions, including the National Junior Championship, in Riedells. Then…I took the opportunity to wear another boot maker’s skates. At a critical moment during my international team competition season (when I was a top 7 ranked skater) that company failed me. The boots fell apart and I became frustrated at the arrogant manner in which I was treated by the boot maker during my desperate attempt to get replacement skates.
So, I returned to Riedell and they got me back up and running in just three days. I will never forget that moment of awesome customer service at a time of personal emergency! Since then, Riedell has demonstrated that their customer service and commitment to quality has always been of the utmost importance in the industry. Whenever I have questions or requests, Riedell is there. As an instructor, I wear the 975 Instructor boot and I proudly send my students to Riedell for skates. To say that Riedell goes out of their way (above and beyond) to promote skating in general, would be a colossal understatement—they do so much more! On and off the ice, the skating community (and I) rely on Riedell.
5. Anything else you’d like to share?
I believe that skating is a great microcosm for life. I tell my parents, “I don’t teach skating…so much as life skills.” Skating can involve pressure (to do well), dedication (goal-setting) and work ethic—all great lessons for life. Because we, as a skating family, all go through similar trials and tribulations together—because we see each other experience intense emotions, hard work and achievement—we are bonded in ways that, perhaps, most communities are not. Skating is a brotherhood and sisterhood. Ultimately, we are all “there” for each other. I love that. That’s pretty darn cool.
Want to connect with Doug? Follow him on Twitter or leave a comment for him below.