Mrs. Dotson was my first skating coach and passed away on May 22, 2011. She instructed me between the ages of about twelve and fifteen. The relationship between a figure skating coach and student is unique and far more personal than in some other sports. I saw Mrs. Dotson five days a week, and even if I didn't have a lesson scheduled with her everyday, she always had her eye on me, and was molding me into a better person.
I can still hear her saying to me in her German accent, "One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. Leg through and Jump," when she taught me how to do my first axel.
I remember how for the life of me I couldn't do a camel spin in front of her because I would get so nervous. So she would turn her back to me and watch me spin in the reflection of the glass. It would make her laugh every time.
I remember how much she liked my backward outside pivot and always found a place for them in my programs.
I remember how proud she was when I did well in competition and how she encouraged me to never stop trying when I fell.
I remember how she encouraged me to eat healthy. "If the hips get too wide you can not rotate." As a teen, I rarely, if ever, ate french fries, potato chips, etc... I wish I had the will power to eat that healthy now. Oh, Mrs. Dotson, if you could only see my hips now.
When she told me that I should become an ice dancer, even though I didn't take her advice for almost five years, she was right. She always had her student's best interest at heart.
Mrs. Dotson taught me more than skating, she taught me life lessons such as the importance of punctuality, responsibility, and perseverance. I still remember the day she taught me responsibility. I had left my skating music in my locker at school and she was livid with me. And she had every right to be angry. How were we supposed to train my program without my music? And since that day, which was about fifteen or sixteen years ago, I have never once stepped onto the ice with out my music if I was training a program.
When my family didn't have enough money to pay for my training, Mrs. Dotson allowed me to assist her when she taught classes in lieu for ice time and helped me get a scholarship to help with skating expenses. I will never forget that opportunity she gave me.
And as the years went by, whether I would run into her at a test session, competition, or just a casual passing in the lobby of the skating rink, she always greeted me with a smile and called out, "Anita!" in her signature accent. She always asked about school and was proud of the fact that I kept testing and skating throughout college and graduate school. I remember one time she said, "There isn't a test session that Anita isn't skating at."
And lastly, in her passing, she taught me the importance of humility. Growing up, I think I knew that she was Miss Belgium in 1952, but I honestly can't remember. It's not something that she ever brought up. But, it wasn't until she passed that I learned she was a competitor in the 1952 Miss Universe Pageant or that she starred in movies in Hollywood and Belgium under the name of Myriam Lynn. Before the funeral service I was able to glimpse for a few minutes the many stunning beautiful pictures of her. I wish I could have stayed longer to see them all.
Mrs. Dotson you made a positive mark not only on my life, but the lives of all of your students, family, and friends. My only regret is that I didn't come see you this past December at the ice show in Huntsville. I had work to do and couldn't make the trip. I would have loved to have seen you smile and hear you say my name in that way that you only could.
Rest in peace, Mrs. Dotson.
Donations can be made in her honor to the Marianne Dotson Scholarship Fund at Municipal Ice Complex, Attn: Friends of Recreational Ice Activities 3185 Leeman Ferry Rd, Huntsville, Al 35801.