Sunday, May 30, 2010

Outdoor Racing

Yesterday I raced the first trexlertown race of the year/season. But that was also my first outdoor race since the World Championships. That means I went 8 months without a single race outdoors. But the weird part is probably the amount of practices I did outdoor without racing which is really, really high. I didn't notice until yesterday it was that long, which is odd because I love to race. I think the fact that I enjoy outdoor skating so much allows me to do it without ever needing to race a regular schedule which is cool I guess.

Anyway, Cheex came up for the event which was awesome. It had been a while since someone other than Justin and I were there to headline the race which is cool. Is great to get new people there especially because it's a great course. Another reason that it's nice to get other people there is that its a change of pace. That race yesterday was like none I had raced since Chris (Creveling) stopped skating them. There was someone else in the lead and pushing the pace then the normal people that you almost get use to it. Anyway, Cheex had the race pretty fast. It seemed like every lap he had a few spots that he kept picking it up in but his purpose was a fast pace, not a breakaway or anything. By doing so the race had very, very few breakaways but was still faster then what we normally have which is a lot of stop and go breakaway stuff.

In the end Cheex had a great lead out for one of his new teammates this year, Justin. Cheex made the last lap one of the fastest laps which effectively stalled much of the passing that you would expect for positioning reasons on the last lap. Then he pulled out at about the perfect time allowing Justin to have a good 200m sprint to the line which worked well allowing Justin to pick up the first win of the series. Rounding out the top three in Senior was Me and John Ristine.

On the other note I kept reading about how sore everyone is after the first race and it is definitely a reflection of the type of practicing you do I think. Some soreness is to be expected if you haven't raced outdoor recently like a little in the groin area maybe but if you practice outdoor a lot much of the other soreness should not exist, which thankfully I can say definitely doesn't for me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What A Journey It's Been

I am 19 years old, my name is Keith Carroll Jr. I come from a small town in Pennsylvania, only about 1300 residents. Everyday I can't believe I've gotten as far as I have.

When I was about five I skated my first speed skating practice. I was on boots that were far to big for me but I said they fit because I wanted to give it a shot. Moments later it was obvious they did not fit my feet.

Fast forward four years and I started skating for a different team. It was a change that has probably shaped me as a person. My coach gave lectures at the end of practices and I was the three foot tall, nine years old, and was still too afraid to talk to my coach. But when he lectured us he said things like, "If you give me 100% you will get faster" and "When I stop yelling that means I stopped caring" and I still remember getting the chills from the words. I was not fast, I really wanted to be though. I spent four years giving 100% for a different coach and never got that much faster. But it was the confidence in his voice, when I was just nine years old that made me believe I could get faster, and the idea of going fast, maybe winning a race someday gave me the chills.

Fast forward another two years and I was still skating. On the verge of my first national medal in a JO (Junior Olympic) relay. I said I was ready for a skate that was far to big for me, with five wheels. At this point I was at the tallest four feet tall, with a skate that would extend much higher then my knee if stood up next me. Watching video now I was not even close to being ready for that skate but we did it anyway because I begged and pleaded with my parents that I was ready.

After I won my first national medal I kept going to practice because that was all I knew. The older guys at practice use to joke with me and call me champ and national champion. I always shrugged it off i knew they were teasing me in a joking way, not being mean but not being sincere either.
Two very very short years later I was introduced to outdoor skating in a big way. I had skated outside before but I had never really raced outside. I went to Outdoor Nationals earned myself three national medals to bring my collection to six in two years and I broke my first national record. That very first year watching Junior and Senior World Class skate I said to my mom I was going to make the world team.. I was thirteen.

I would be sixteen before I finally made that first world team. And I barely made it. But that was okay to me because it made me work harder because there were a lot of people that didn't believe I deserved to be on that team. A few months later a former world team coach actually told me she didn't think I ever deserved to make the world team.

More importantly, when I was sixteen I signed my first autograph. I didn't even have a signature yet. I was still testing it out. But there were people who wanted me to sign things for them. I couldn't believe it. It was easily a milestone in my life. I was sixteen, I came from a town of just 1300 people and I could not fathom that somewhere else in the world someone wanted me to give them an autograph. I think i was more excited to sign then they were to get my signature.

Now I am 19, I sign autographs occasionally still and I still marvel at the opportunity. I've been to four different countries and all over the US. I skate everyday and I love every second of it. I want the world to realize that this sport is just as good as any other. Maybe more. I want the world to realize that we have our stud athletes and our bad ones, we have our good people and our bad people in the sport. I want them to see the passion the I put on display. I want them to notice that when we get good we look for ways to get better. I want the world to realize that a small kid, just 5'5" and not getting any bigger can be a world class athlete from a small town of just 1300 people that didn't have to move or switch schools to get where they are. How many sports is that possible in??

I want the world to realize "if you give me 100%, you will get faster."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Coaching 101

Before I jump into this let me make a disclaimer here that I am not a coach. Just an athlete. But if you are a coach here are a few things you should avoid that I had the very unfortunate task of witnesses this past weekend.

1. This is a big one for me. As a coach, know your skaters. More then that know their names. I sat through an entire race. Where I watched a coach not only tell his skater the same thing lap after lap but also call them by the wrong name lap, after lap, after lap. My first thought it oh, simple mistake he'll get it right next lap.... I was wrong. This continued the whole race. To make matter worse this kid was in 5th place so he needed the motivation that should have come from his coach in order to catch up. Now, if your coach is trying to cheer you on by saying "let's go _____" and the blank is not your name then he is having the reverse effect. The athlete in question wasn't even a new athlete, he has skated for the SAME coach for like two years. Are you kidding me!?! If I was in that position that would have been the very very very last race I ever skated for him. I felt embarrassed for the kid let alone how horrible I felt that my coach didn't even know my name. Awful.. just awful.

Now before I jump into the next one.. let me make this clear. When I skate I want to skate against the fastest skaters. If I win i want it to be because I was faster and I deserved to win. I never believed a true victory was one that someone could look at and say.. they definitely wouldn't win that the majority of the time.

With that being said...
2. I also had the completely and utterly unfortunate luck of witnessing what I feel as a complete disgrace to sport in general. Not skating, but any type of sport you could think of. I watched a coach cheer on one of his athletes that was not yet 8 years old. NOT YET EIGHT! (Just remember that) and as another athlete pulled up along side of his to pass he yelled "FIGHT THEM OFF". Now the next part may or may not have been intentional or not but the fact remains that it happened. His skater's foot happened to collide with the passing skaters foot causing the passer to fall.. hard. And instantaneously the coach yelled "GOOD JOB. WAY TO GO. GOOD JOB" Pardon my french, but are you ****ing me!!!! This child is not even eight years old, and you have just successfully cheered them on for knocking another athlete down. Eight years old. Now his athlete may not have knocked the other down intentionally but either way you don't cheer them for that particular instance. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but if my under eight year old child happened to do that I would make sure that were not trying to knock another athlete down simply to achieve a better placement.

Something like that makes me want to ask the parents.. is that who you really want playing a role in the development of your child?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NSC Tribulation 3

Thursday May 20th 9pm eastern. Tune in at and watch the live feed for just $8 dollars. Athletes from Washington State, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania all come together to decide who is the Grand Champion of the most decorated indoor athletes in the world. The athletes could reach speeds up to 30mph with nothing but a helmet for protection.

Special Guest and Olympic Medalist, J.R. Celski, comes back to where it all started to watch some of the athletes he use to race and watch. Tune in to watch a high speed event that will not disappoint.

And if you are an inline enthusiast tune in to get a preview of Pro Men at nationals as all the athletes are gearing up for their regional championships.