Written by Samantha Pearsall on behalf of the entire Chicago Jazz Junior Team
The weeks leading up to the Junior World Qualifying competition were spent working extremely hard both on and off the ice perfecting every element in both of our programs. Even though we had to sacrifice spending time with our friends over winter break, none of us minded because we were all working towards a common goal: bringing back the title of Junior World Team to the Chicago Jazz organization. We spent every team and individual practice striving to improve our skating skills and our facial expressions. We wanted to ensure that after competing both programs, we felt as if we had done everything we could to hopefully earn the Chicago Jazz a spot on the World Junior Team.
It felt like the Junior World Qualifier in Wisconsin could not come soon enough. Upon arriving in Fond du Lac, we had an unofficial practice session on Thursday. It was a strong practice, and we hoped to deliver an equally strong short program the next day.
We awoke the following day extremely well rested and excited to perform our short program. Our official practice was solid, and all of our hard work would be put to the test later that night in competition. Despite our minor bobble, we exhibited an amazing short program that night and were ecstatic with the scores we received. However, we knew that we could not let our initial success go to our heads, and needed to maintain our mental toughness for the long program the next day.
We knew as the “underdogs” of this competition and the current leaders after the short program by a slim margin that all eyes would be on us in the long program. The point totals between the first five places were extremely close, and it was still anyone’s game. The next day, our official practice for the long program went extremely well, and we felt confident entering the long program later that night. We had another unofficial practice that day which we used to polish the minor details of our program. Feeling prepared, excited, and a bit nervous, we took the ice for our long program with the crowd roaring. Our program was solid, and we hoped it would be enough to earn us a spot on the Junior World Team. However, no matter the outcome, we were all incredibly delighted because we had come a long way since last year. We had skated for our coaches, the entire Chicago Jazz organization, and ourselves that night, and were engulfed with pride.
The wait in the locker room until the end of the flight seemed like forever. We all stood in a circle, singing and dancing to inspirational music and just hugging, talking, crying, and laughing with each other. When our coaches ran into the locker room screaming “Team USA!” later that night, we absolutely could not believe our hard work had paid off in an enormous way. That moment will forever thrive in our hearts. Seeing the immense pride and happiness our coaches were filled with is an irreplaceable feeling in all of us. Our motto this season is “One team, one dream,” and we definitely reached one of our many dreams for the season at the Junior World Qualifier.
We are beyond excited to see what the rest of the season holds for us. We plan to improve our programs with each practice as we have been doing, and work even harder as we prepare for the French Cup, Nationals, and the Junior World Challenge Cup. We hope to make the United States immensely proud at each of our international events, and continue to skate for ourselves and everyone who believes in us. Thank you to everyone who made this dream possible.