Skating has always been my go-to place. It is my version of therapy—I call it “Ice Therapy.” For me, there is nothing like the feeling of the cold wind in my face as I glide across the ice, the beautiful sound of the ice crunching under my blades as I lean into a perfect edge, and the exhilaration that comes after I leave it all on the ice. Skating makes me feel as though I am transported to another place, a place of joy and abandonment. I feel like I shed my troubles, my frustrations, and my fears with every stroke on the ice. No matter what anchors might be holding me down, on the ice my heart soars.
The past 15 months have affected the world in unprecedented ways. Many of us have taken on roles that we never anticipated and have been forced to conduct our personal and professional lives in a way that left us feeling isolated and afraid. I, like so many others, was longing for normalcy. I was fatigued by the oxymoron “social distancing” (There is nothing social about distancing). Zoom calls and FaceTime helped to let me know that I was still connected to friends and family, but they were not enough. I wanted my life back.
Yet, as a member of the Sandwich Generation, the thought of emerging from the safety of the cocoon in the midst of a pandemic—and the fear that my actions could cause illness or even death for my loved ones at home—left me feeling absolutely paralyzed. I remember thinking that if ever I needed Ice Therapy, it was at that time.
Then, during one of those Revolution Ice Unity adult synchronized skating team Zoom calls, one of my skating sisters mentioned getting back on the ice. But it was July 2020. COVID-19 was still all around us.
Together we broached the subject carefully, gingerly, knowing that although adult ice skating can be more controlled (and thus, safer), there was still risk involved. We discussed the precautions that we were taking at home to keep ourselves and our families safe, and we spoke candidly about any possible exposure that we may have had. We looked at statistics and infection rates and consulted with our team’s doctor. We discussed precautions that we could take that would enable us to meet safely. We relied heavily on a teammate who works in education at Milton Hershey School and took cues from her school’s health and safety protocols for planning our program. As one of the team’s attorneys, I drafted a COVID-19 questionnaire and release. Then we agreed—yes, it was time to again take the ice.
As I drove to the rink for the first time in many months, in the early morning hours before the rising of the sun, I was filled with trepidation. Other than the necessary trips to the supermarket for which I practically enveloped myself in hazmat gear, and the occasional visits to the playground (“Wash your hands, baby;” “You can run together, darling, but no touching;” “Sorry sweetheart, there are too many children here and we have to leave because of the virus”), I had not been around any human beings outside of my “pod.” But I trusted my skating sisters—trusted that none of us would ever put the others in harm’s way.
It is that same blind trust that our team has every time we skate together, as the possibility of blades meeting with skin is all too real. I laced up my skates, stepped on the ice, and saw the joy in the eyes of my team members, despite their masked faces. Although there were a few times that we evaluated the infection rates and canceled sessions, we continue to skate together twice a month. As a proud member of Revolution Ice Unity adult synchro skating, I can tell you that there is only one thing better than Ice Therapy…group Ice Therapy!