Coach Michelle Hong is a global coach who has the mission to provide content to skaters via videos, motivational tips and emotional guidance. Recently, we talked to Michelle about how she plans to change the world of figure skating.
How did you get started in your career?
I grew up in the Bay area and I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of talent. There are a handful of successful people that come out of Bay area in terms of technology. But for me growing up, the biggest role models I had, were my family and my sisters.
My parents are from Cambodia. They were able to survive the Khmer Rouge regime and they had nothing. Luckily enough, they were able to survive. For me, I always think back to my roots and the biggest thing that I had when I was going through life.
The fact that I can navigate and control my life based on work ethic, grit, and passion. Those three things, passion, work ethic and grit are what got me to where I am today.
My sister and I first started skating because we went to a birthday party and my sister was. I was put in group classes with my sister and then it took off from there.
I was getting hand me down clothes such as dresses, and hand-me-down boots. I didn’t feel like that was a disservice or a disadvantage to me because my parents always made me feel as though we had enough.
I just had a humbling upbringing. I think it was really eye opening for me to see all my competitors having all the top end boots, the top end blades, the top end dresses, and the top end bags.
I was okay because I was emotionally supported by my family, but I did start to notice that it was difficult to keep up with my competitors when I didn’t have the same training regimen as them. It was one of those things where I felt the more I got up into the rankings. It does make a huge difference and it takes a toll on your mind and your body.
You don’t feel like you’re going to make it or you don’t feel like you’re going to be good enough regardless of how much you work.
I felt like I didn’t have enough training compared to everyone else. I wished I had more videos. I wished I had people that I can look towards toward for advice and support.
How did life change when you went to college?
When I got to college, my mindset was like I’m going to go down the medical school track.
I got into integrative bio in Berkeley and I ended up wanting to tie my leadership skills into what I was doing in the future. I ended up switching to business and media studies. After that, I got a job at a biotech startup.
This is what’s deemed as successful, but what I really want deep down inside was to give back to my community. My community was the skating community. People trusted me with their children and their children’s future and it felt wild.
I took it with a lot of pride. I wanted to provide the support that I was lacking when I was younger. I know that a lot of other skaters have struggles including, eating disorders, body image issues, dealing with mental stress, dealing with competition, and anxiety.
For me, that’s what all the videos provide do. I really want to make sure that I make is easy to understand. I didn’t want to have that elitist attitude that is ingrained in the older generation and gets trickled down.
I get a lot of comments on how easy to understand my voiceovers are and it is a great feeling.
How do you plan to change the world of figure skating?
My goal is to make sure that my classes are available for everyone. If you have the passion, the work ethic and grit, then you can join Coach Michelle Academy and become a great skater.
My ultimate goal is to bring skating back to the mainstream. You see stuff such as zumba, yoga and all of these other sports gaining popularity. There is not enough attention to all of the different ways people can feel accomplished in the skating world such as learn to skate classes, synchronized skating, pairs, ice dancing, theatre on ice, adult skating, coaching, judging, and more!
I am here to redefine success in the sport of figure skating. Making it to Nationals and the Olympics isn’t the only way to “succeed”. I believe as long as you are challenging yourself daily and reaching your goals while maintaining health and happiness you have achieved major success. You don’t need to be a certain age or have a certain body type to feel as if you are “succeeding” at the sport.