I’ve been thinking a lot recently about gratitude and the concept of mentoring. I believe that when things get tough in your own life, the best thing you can do is to step out of yourself and double down on giving generously to others: empathy, wisdom, grace, love, and time. As a seasoned adult and parent, my own understanding of paying it forward continues to evolve.
But before I share thoughts on the present day, let’s go back to the start. I’ve had tremendous opportunities for learning and growth thanks to the generosity and patience of my mentors. This includes mentors on the ice.
I laced up ice skates for the first time as a 22-year-old senior during my last semester at Penn State. I was fortunate enough to secure one of 25 highly coveted learn-to-skate class spots—it was finally time for me to pursue my gold medal dreams! Like all new skaters, I was hesitant, slow, and methodical. But, I was getting better with each hour spent on the ice with the college’s patient instructors mentoring me. They encouraged me. I stayed with it.
The capstone project of our semester was a group performance at Penn State’s spring ice show. Focusing more on the program steps versus stressing about perfect mohawks and 3-turns, the experience advanced my confidence quickly. And, I realized I couldn’t get enough of this intoxicating sport.
Flash forward a few years, and my local adult learn-to-skate class decided officially to give adult synchronized skating a shot with Team Reflections Synchronized Skating Team. A unique team discipline within the US Figure Skating universe, synchro presented us with new skills to learn to meet specific program requirements—intersections, pinwheels, blocks, lines, and circles. We also learned about spacing and how to complete these moves safely and in very close proximity to each other, all while training individually to perfect the basics of high-quality ice skating. We may have been slow at the start, but we were having a great time and setting the foundation of our team.
I reflect back again on patience, and the grace of my top-level synchro skating teammates. These skating sisters selflessly mentored those of us who were new to the discipline and oftentimes, scared to try things. They could have skated with far more competitive and challenging teams, but they chose to invest in those of us who were passionate and committed but just needed some time to grow.
And grow we did, to the point where I’ve lost count of the number of medals I have in my possession earned alongside these ladies! At some point, it all just clicked (it always does if you have the right people on board), and both old and new came together in synchronicity as champions.
Our new independent adult synchro skating team, Revolution Ice Unity, gives me the opportunity to see my skating journey come full circle. I feel blessed to be able to pay it forward by mentoring our eager new recruits—suddenly, I’m one of the veterans helping to teach and grow a new group of fledgling Central Pennsylvania adult synchronized skating teammates. What an honor!
Additionally, I now understand my own mentors’ motivations more than ever—it’s all based on a sheer joy for skating and a commitment to investing in people and achieving together. I’m moved by how these new skaters are already investing in themselves and this team. They inspire me to do my part to deliver an amazing experience—and nurture some new gold medal dreams.