I looked up. This 15 year old boy was smiling at me. "Who is this?" went through my brain. Nice looking kid, T-shirt, baggy shorts, run down tennis shoes. Then he started yapping at me, and I realized it was Dance Coach.
In my defense, I'd only had one lesson from him, and I'd never seen him in anything but his coaching jacket. The face was the same, but the whole impression was not of a man, but of a boy. Put his coaching jacket on and he became A Coach.
The difference between a coach in street clothes and in the Coat of Power is really amazing. Once a coach puts on that jacket they become a different person. Tiny little women you might mistake for a child suddenly seem taller and stronger. Easy going guys suddenly become commanding.
It had never been obvious to me before how important that coaching jacket was as a uniform. It gives coaches an instantly recognizable identity and authority on the ice. Like a policeman's uniform it gives kids on public a sense of 'the guy that's in charge.' Little kids who he knows come up and hug Dance Coach on ice. When he's off ice in 'civvies', only the parents approach him. The little kids don't seem to recognize him. I guess that means I'm a child at heart!