I’m beginning to realize that I am at the end of my competitive skating career. It’s hard to imagine, but after:
- 15 years of skating (starting with the Dover Arena’s US Figure Skating Basic Skills Program in the second grade)
- 12 years of sectional competition and 12 sectional medals (starting with the Sharper Edge Youth Team in the fifth grade)
- Skating in 7 different divisions: Youth, Teen, Intermediate, Novice, Junior, Collegiate and Open Collegiate
- Qualifying for 6 National Championships 2006-2011 (starting with Team Boston’s Intermediate Team representing The Skating Club of Boston in the eighth grade), earning 3 national medals including a 2011 Collegiate National Championship as a member of the Miami University Varsity Synchronized Skating Team
- 3 international seasons as a member of Team USA 2009-2011, bringing home a 2010 ISU Bronze Medal at the Cup of Berlin with the Lexettes
- 3 wonderful seasons as a member of the Miami Ice Skating Open Collegiate Team 2012-2014
- 2 US Figure Skating “Athlete Alumni Ambassador (3A) Awards” in 2009 & 2010
- And 33 tests passed
Plus more travel miles, adventures, friends, banagrams, carpools, bus rides, van rides, missed school days, blisters, tears, and magical memories than I ever imagined. Miami has a tradition called “Passdowns” where Seniors hand off their skating dresses and team spirit wear to underclassmen. I’ve packed up all my old show costumes, ice dance dresses and even a treasured Freida B from my first national championship short program to pass on. Looking back, it is absolutely amazing that I reached every goal I set for myself as a young skater. With lots of guidance and encouragement from dedicated coaches and officials*, I achieved my dream of becoming an NCAA Division I student-athlete, a three-time member of Team USA, and a US Figure Skating National Champion.
On Sunday, I had the chance to help at the Synchro Stars Tryouts for the 2014-2015 Season at the Cyclones Arena in Hudson. It was awesome to see an arena full of skaters wearing numbers and working hard to earn a spot on their dream team. After twelve seasons of synchronized skating, I know exactly how important those tryouts are. Skaters work hard all season to build their skills, test and improve, hoping to move up into new, challenging divisions.
I was a little nostalgic seeing the little skaters at the very beginning of their career and wanted to passdown the best advice given to me, “The person having the most fun wins.” Skating is a beautiful, enchanting, rewarding sport. But it can break your heart. I’ve experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Every skater battles injuries, surgeries, lace bite, bruises, a concussion or two. And while it is important to focus on skill development and competitive excellence, it’s also important to have fun along the way.
The secret to my long career is that I have always loved being on the ice. Skating has brought me so much joy. I truly love this crazy sport. I cherish my losing seasons (or “less successful” seasons) as much as my winning years. Each season is special. When you reach the old age of twenty-one, you won’t remember how your Spiderman Team did in Lake Placid (I do remember it wasn’t especially good). But you WILL remember running through the Olympic Village, riding on dog sleds in the snow, eating a delicious team dinner of Italian food, and that Katie Burke’s mom always has the best snacks in her room. I learned so much from my coaches and teammates. I appreciate every life lesson, every late night laugh with my tired team, and every early morning practice – they helped shape me as an athlete, an artist, and a person.
It’s time to put away my skates for a while and focus on launching a career. I wish the very best for every little skater lacing up for tryouts. If I could do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat. Dream big. Listen to your coaches. Trust your teammates. There is no limit to what you can achieve if you work hard, believe in yourself, and have fun.
*A heartfelt thank you to my coaches and mentors: Ron Kravette, Jaqueline Fondiller, Christine Hardy, Kelly Richall, Nick Moorman, Alice Sedgwick, Rebecca Stump, Saga Krantz, Deirdre Wilson, Jacqui Lovato, Carrie Heath, Carla DeGirolamo, Lee Ann Shoker, Lauren McHenry, Martha Buckley, Sally-Anne Kaminski, Rachel Funk, Dr. Mary Jane Hanlon, Pat McNulty, Joe Blount, Ann Buckley, and Shirley Holdsworth.