by Catherine Amodeo
Is it the feeling you get when you finally master a twizzle on your non-dominant side? The feeling of the crisp, cold rink air hitting your face? Making it to Nationals? We all have our reasons for continuing to return to the ice each day. A drive that never ceases. No matter the age, skaters have their reasons, which are very personal to them, for being motivated to continue doing what they love.
Bella Cherry, 10, of Team Ashburn has synchronized skating in her blood. Her mom, a coach, brought her to the rink when she was just two years old. Although she didn’t like being on the ice at first, she hasn’t looked back since.
Spending time on the ice at least five days a week, she has worked hard on her Moves in the Field and Ice Dance tests, and is now on the juvenile team and cross-skating for the intermediate team. For the past two seasons, Bella was the youngest skater on her team. She was motivated to work hard and prove that she could skate just as well as the older skaters. Aside from setting a goal to pass all of her Moves in the Field and Dance tests, Bella is motivated by her promising future. After attending a camp at Miami University, she realized her dream of attending college at Miami University and skating on the senior team. Beyond that, she hopes to one day coach a team of her own.
Of course, things haven’t always been smooth sailing for Bella. Two years ago her beloved coach of many years, Lydia, passed away. As hard as it was for her and her teammates, they did their best to continue the season. “The hard time brought the team closer together,” Bella says. In addition to her mother, Bella looks up to Devin Wang of the Haydenettes, whom she met at the DREAM Camp when it came to her rink. “She is just an amazing skater and so passionate for the sport,” she says.
For 17 year-old Cara Gabriel, a high school senior, it’s the adrenaline rush after skating a clean program and being able to strive to earn more points. Cara turned down gymnastics and swimming before finding her true passion of figure skating. After trying it out on the frozen lake at her lake house, she begged her mother to sign her up for lessons. She knew that skating was different from any other activity she had tried.
Now, Cara skates six days a week for two to three hours at a time. “My favorite part of being on the ice is being able to forget about everything else but skating. If I’m having a bad day, it doesn’t matter or affect me once I step on the ice,” she says. Cara started her synchro career eight years ago with the Kicks Group. She then skated for Fond Du Lac Blades, and is now skating for Chicago Jazz junior. Cara’s favorite memory so far was her experience at an international competition in Neuchatel, Switzerland, and getting to represent the USA.
Unfortunately, Cara suffered a broken leg a few years ago and was off the ice for an entire summer. As difficult as it was to bounce back physically, she says it was even more difficult mentally. She learned how to trust herself, her training, her coach, and her teammates again. The sense of teamwork pushes Cara to work harder and harder because it isn’t just about her. She knows she has the biggest support system behind her. Her parents are always there for her – they go above and beyond – driving her to camps, tests, and practice – for which she is very grateful. In the future, Cara hopes to represent Team USA at the senior level. When she attends college to study biology, athletic training, or physical therapy, she will definitely make time for synchro. She has seen the sport change and grow so much already and wants to see how far it can go…hopefully to the Olympics!
20-year-old Jamie Howe loves surprising herself and achieving things she never thought she could. As much as she loved school, she wanted something more. In skating, there was always something else for her to work toward like a new program, the next test, or a new jump.
She knew the ice rink was where she was supposed to be. Starting recreationally at age four thanks to her wonderful mother, Lolly, it wasn’t until Jamie turned 14 when competitive figure skating became her life. “I was the girl who would come to the rink even if I had the stomach bug,” Jamie joked. She wouldn’t miss a day of skating if her life depended on it. “Every time I would get on the ice, I would think to myself, ‘Gosh, I’m just so happy here!’”
Everyone who knows Jamie can vouch for that – she is always smiling! When Jamie met her longtime coach, Karla, she learned what she could do with this passion of hers. The options were endless. It wasn’t until 2013 that she discovered synchro. It opened up a whole new world. She skated on Team Achilles Edge/Empire Edge open juvenile for three great seasons before beginning her college classes. She loved the sense of camaraderie and comfort that came from skating with a team.
During her second season, Jamie had to work through a grueling back injury. After the first competition, she and her team couldn’t hold back their excitement for the promising season ahead, but unfortunately she was off the ice for the next nine months. If she was still only skating individually, nothing would’ve kept her involved during the long hiatus. Thankfully, she was still able to attend the rest of the competitions and participate in fun activities with her teammates. Synchro and time with her team brought her some much needed patience.
Currently, Jamie is working hard studying communications and of course, still skating. She hopes to pass her senior moves in the field test and take her novice freestyle test. She isn’t sure how it will all work, but one thing she knows for certain is that skating MUST always be a part of her life in some way. Her dream job would be to work for an organization in the sport so it could be her everyday job, as well as coaching on the side. Jamie skates for “the moments” that take her breath away.
Synchronized skating offers skaters so many opportunities to pursue their dreams, be part of something bigger than themselves and find joy and satisfaction in their lives. It is when you are involved in something that you are very passionate about when you learn what true discipline and motivation really is.