From beginner to coach: A 23-year-old’s roller skating journey
She now spends her free time coaching fellow enthusiasts, most of whom are in their mid-thirties.
When most hear the word “skate”, sports like skateboarding and ice skating come to mind. However, for 23-year-old Kristianne Fajardo, she’s reminded of hours spent at the skatepark, trying out new tricks and techniques with her roller skates.
It’s been three years since Kristianne, also known as Kris, embarked on her skating journey. Today, as a part-time coach, she teaches students who are mostly in their mid-thirties the art of roller skating.
Her journey all began in 2019. Freshly graduated from polytechnic, Kris was looking to kill time.
“I was very bored. I kept going on Instagram and I would see these roller skaters look so carefree and so happy. You know, the world is in such a state. If they can be so carefree and happy, maybe I can too,” shares Kris.
Besides Instagram, she tapped on other social media platforms such as Reddit. In fact, it was through Reddit that she chanced upon Lion City Roller Skaters, an interest group formed by passionate roller skaters from all around Singapore.
Kris was the fifth member to join the group. Fast forward to 2022, the group now has 200 active members and counting.
As a beginner, she mostly learnt from friends as well as the “oldies” or old artistic roller skaters from the 90s and 80s such as Uncle Chuan and Uncle Steven.
Another online resource she used was YouTube. During her free time, she’d search for tutorials by popular skaters like Indy Jamma Jones, Kamry Lorin and Ana Octo to learn new techniques as well as gain inspiration.
Roller skating continued as a hobby for Kris until about two years in, when a close friend who works with HiRoller approached her with the idea to become a coach.
“I didn’t know anything about coaching or teaching anybody else. I just felt like I was still a beginner myself. It was kinda funny that other people wanted to learn from me but (HiRoller) opened the floor to me so I started coaching.
“I felt like a fish out of water when I first started roller skate coaching. Until today, it’s been a learning process everyday with my students. I learnt how to teach better, how to coach better and I still learn how to skate better, even, alongside my students.”
Kris currently teaches at HiRoller which is in Downtown East. She also conducts private one-to-one lessons under the overpass, next to the Helix Bridge at Marina Bay.
“I like that area because it’s really flat and it’s wide. It’s always sheltered from the rain and there is a railing as well for my students to hold on to.”
As an interior design student at LASALLE, she juggles her studies, work and hobby by meticulously managing her schedule. She usually skates two to three times a week – four hours to coach her students and another three hours to skate for fun at the skatepark.
“Rest is productive and I give myself a lot of time to rest. These days, I try not to overbook myself with my coachings so that I still have time to skate for fun, which is quite important for me.”
While Kris has evidently come a long way since from when she first started, she does have her moments of self-doubt.
She recounts: “Mid-last year in 2021, I attempted to drop in from a ramp but I fell backwards which is the number one thing not to do in roller skating. It was so embarrassing because I was lying down in the middle of the ramp with a blank face. I was just in shock the entire afternoon.
“After that fall, it took a lot of my roller skate confidence. I couldn’t jump as high or I couldn’t skate as fast. I had to build up my confidence slowly, over several months, just to get back to where I was.”
Apart from such setbacks, she also experiences social anxiety which used to stop her from going to the skatepark or the roller rink.
“These places are often very wide and are always full of advanced skaters. So as a beginner, I feel very nervous all the time. I would take about an hour or two to just warm up and bring myself out there and put on my skates.”
However, despite these challenges, Kris’ love for the sport remains unwavering. Through the help and support of the roller skating community, she was able to overcome her fears.
“Going out with my friends who are also roller skaters, who are also at a similar skill level as I am, helped me a lot because I didn’t feel as nervous and I didn’t feel alone as well. It was really nice to fall back on them to give myself courage.”
With the community being her strongest pillar of support, Kris strongly encourages fellow beginners to go online first and make friends there before throwing yourself out there, in the skatepark or in the roller rink, as you might injure yourself easily.
“Give yourself the time to practise at home and then after a little while, maybe a few months, you go out and start learning from friends. The skate community is never too big,” says Kris.