I learned to ice skate when I was three years old, my mom brought me to our local ice rink and the instructor gave me this walker looking device that glided along the ice and helped me to learn how to balance. Actually, truth be told, she left me with the walker in the middle of the ice. I’m sure she only left for a few minutes to get something or do something, but I remember being in the middle of the rink thinking that the woman abandoned me forever.
That experience didn’t deter me from ice skating at all because when I was 5 my mom enrolled me in figure skating lessons and that was the very beginning of my passion. I absolutely loved figure skating from the second I stepped foot on the ice at 5 years old and dreamed of being as good as the other skaters I saw around me, I was one determined child and worked through challenges of falling and learning very basic figure skating fundamentals for quite a few years. Each year we would take a “test” called the “Basic Skills Test“. This test was from the United States Figure Skating Association and outlined each set of skills we were to learn and master each year. We were given this little book with all of the different levels and when we passed a level we would get a stamp in the book. I would get so incredibly excited every time I got a new stamp in my book, it really made me feel special and our coaches made a huge deal about us moving up a level.
When I was 10 I got more seriously into skating and tried out for the Junior Precision Team. The precision teams (Junior and Senior) were synchronized skating teams that would compete a few times per year at local competitions around my area. In our rink, it was a huge deal to be part of the precision teams and so many girls would show up to try out. I was lucky enough to get onto the Junior team on my first try and I was absolutely over the moon that I was now a part of a team that I wanted to be on for so long.
With the Junior Precision Team, I got a taste of what competitive figure skating was like and I realized how cut throat it actually was. One team would threaten other teams, they would try to sabotage other teams and would do absolutely anything to win. In fact, one competition I remember being in, a girl from one of the Canadian teams threw something on the ice right as we were getting ready to skate. I’m not exactly sure why they did it, but I remember our coach having to skate out to get whatever it was they threw on the ice. Cut throat or not, I enjoyed competing with my team because whether or not we won or lost, we had a lot of fun trying and being a part of the competitions.
As soon as I turned 14 and was able to try out for the Senior Precision Team I jumped at the chance and fortunately, I got onto the team. This team was a bigger deal because they practiced three times a week, which was more than the once a week the Junior team practiced. I competed and performed with that team until I was 17 and had to stop figure skating.
When I was 17 my skating team was performing at an exhibition and somehow my skate got intertwined with the girl next to me and I fell right down. However, because I was a trained figure skater I had always been taught that when you fell, you get right back up and continue from where you left off. I was in a lot of pain but kept skating until we were finished. When I got off the ice I immediately went over to my mom hysterically crying in pain. My coach ran over and told my mom not to take my skate off because if anything serious had happened to my foot, it would immediately swell when my skate was removed. We put my blade protectors back on my skates and off we went to the emergency room.
When we were in the emergency room the doctor took my skate off and immediately my foot swelled up like a balloon, I had some x-rays only to find out that I had broken my foot. I was devastated because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to skate for a good while because of my injury and skating was all I wanted to do at that point in my life; figure skating was my life. I had dreams of becoming a professional figure skater and I was scared that it would never happen since I would have to take time off.
To make a very long story short, my foot healed, I graduated High School and when I went off to college I realized that I just didn’t have the time to go back to figure skating. On top of being busy with college, I was still having a lot of problems with pain in the foot that I had broken while I was skating. That was when I had to come to terms with the fact that I probably wouldn’t be able to go back to training because of the pain and weakness I had in that foot and ankle; it was a very hard time for me and I had to shift my thinking so I could figure out what else I wanted to do with my life. Truth be told, I was so heavy into figure skating and becoming a professional figure skater that I had no backup plan for my future.
Since then I have gone skating with my friends and now go skating with my kids and love every minute of it. Yes, I still have a lot of pain in that foot when I put my skates on, mostly because I developed arthritis in that foot, but I try to power through it when I go skating for fun. I’ve begun teaching my children how to figure skate and always hoped that they would develop the same passion that I had. Unfortunately, neither of my girls want to figure skate, but they have fun learning from me and going skating every so often during the winter months.
I still have my skating ribbons for competitions I placed in and will always have them as a reminder of how far I got in my short-lived 12-year skating career and I also have the memories of the fun I had while I was training. Every so often I still get a little down thinking of what I could have accomplished if I hadn’t broken my foot but life had other plans for me and I had to embrace them even though I didn’t exactly want to.