One winter morning in 1976, my father was reading the Sunday paper when he stumbled across an ad for ice-skating lessons. He snapped the paper in front of me and asked, “It says you have to be able to skate across the length of the ice to sign up. Can you skate across the ice?”
“Of course I can skate across the ice,” I said, and then gulped a spoonful of oatmeal.
A minute later he was on the phone, registering me. What on earth made him believe a five year-old who had never put on a pair of skates could cross a slippery arena, I’ll never know. But I was excited to begin lessons and I imagined zooming around in circles, faster than everyone at South Mountain.
The next week I proudly stepped onto the ice in my new skates.
And promptly fell.
And fell again.
Then I learned to hold onto the side. And then I learned what it’s like to hit the boards AND the ice. And this was in the days before helmets.
A guard helped me off the ice. She told my father I could not be in group lessons. I thought I might cry. Then she suggested I spend a private lesson with her, learning to skate. My father agreed and by the end of the lesson, I was indeed moving across the ice.
I took group lessons every winter for a few years, earning my USFSA patches faster than everyone else. And when I had completed those patches, they told me I was ready for a coach and private lessons–lessons my family could barely afford.
I went for one private lesson and waited for my coach in the corner, practicing simple figures. The older skaters yelled at me because, unbeknown to me, I was hogging the JUMP corner. I was trying to stay out of the way, but I was totally screwing up their double lutzes.
And then when my father heard what time the coach wanted me at the arena–5:30am twice a week–that was the end of private lessons.
Over the years, I skated recreationally instead, going to the arena once a week and trying to teach myself. I was able to do a scratch spin and a waltz jump, crossovers in every direction, and a few fancy turns. But my real desire was to compete. I always thought…some day.
That day came as an adult. As soon as I had my own money, I took lessons. And like I had done as a child, I quickly moved up through the ranks. I hired a coach. I competed. And I won. In 2002, I competed at Adult Nationals in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after winning Gold at Eastern Sectionals and two other Golds, a Silver and a Bronze in other competitions that year. It was a dream come true.
I thought–if I can do this, I can do anything.
And now, here I am today, accepting an offer of literary representation. Skating gave me the confidence to pursue another dream, that of becoming a published children’s author. And now I’m one step closer to that dream.
I’m here to tell you–work hard, believe in yourself and your talents, find a great critique group and writer friends who support you, and go for it!
You will stumble. You will fall. But brush yourself off and soon you’ll hit your stride–or in my case–glide!