COLUMBIA — Lisa Trent is a self-taught coach. She has never roller-skated herself, but she still managed to develop and coach the Artistic Skate Club at the Empire Roller Rink.
The Artistic Skate Club is an 18-member roller-skating team comprised of skaters ages 5 to 60. The advanced team of 10 skaters competes regionally and nationally, while the junior team of eight skaters trains solely to work up to the competitive level.
Trent, who has been involved with the rink for the past 15 years, created the team in 2005 with just four skaters.
“I realized that I had to do more than just watch kids skate. I wanted something more, and thought it would be enjoyable to see athletes skating at the rink,” Trent said. “I researched the sport and just happened to really like it.”
Artistic roller skating is similar to figure skating on ice. The team participates in different events such as figures, loops, solo dance, creative solo and freestyle. There are individual events as well as events for pairs, in which the skaters must precisely mirror each other.
Figures, in which a skater traces circles on the rink, are the main discipline to competitive roller skating, according to Trent.
“Figures are our foundation for advanced skating,” she said. “We teach them to utilize their skates to the max.”
The skate club practices five days a week, with some practices lasting up to six hours, in order to train for competitions. The team will next compete in nationals on July 25 in Lincoln, Neb.
Trent coached the team by herself until last November, when Mark Reagan stepped in to assist.
Reagan had been skating since he was 9 years old, but was out of the sport for several years before looking for a way to get back into it.
“I was at the national championships in Peoria, Ill. when I ran into Lisa,” Reagan recalls. “I wanted to get back into coaching, so we went from there.”
Reagan, whom Trent calls a “breath of fresh air” to the team, moved to Columbia last fall and began coaching with the Artistic Skate Club shortly after.
“Artistic Skate Club is great because we have such a wide range of age groups and offer different disciplines, with lots of kids involved in each one,” Reagan said. “Plus Lisa is a super coach and makes it really enjoyable.”
Throughout her coaching career, Trent has trained three national champions, and has even got to work with her daughter, Emma Trent, who is currently training for the world competition next year.
But for Lisa Trent herself, it’s not just about the sport of roller skating. She instead likes to focus on the people that surround her at the roller rink.
“For me, it’s about relationships with coaches, skaters and my daughter,” Trent said. “We spend lots of time together, taking it very seriously but still having a lot of fun. It’s pretty exciting.”