Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pacific Coast DREAM Camp

This past weekend was the Pacific Coast DREAM camp in Anaheim, Calif. Taylor, Annaleigh, and I were the 3 DREAMmates to attend this camp along with Team USA coaches, Josh Babb (Skyliners), Pam May (Team Braemar), and Lisa Darken (Chicago Jazz).

We had a jam packed day full of various on ice classes including musical interpretation, lines and wheels, and circles and blocks. On ice classes were alternated with off ice classes consisting of dance, team bonding, and conditioning.

(Working on spirals with Pam and Lisa)

The athletes were split into separate groups which allowed all to really use this time to learn to their advantage. It was evident that the campers were having a great time and Taylor, Annaleigh, and I had an equally fun time demonstrating and participating in all the events. The day was finished off with a pizza party for all the athletes where they could sit and chat with all their new friends.

Now, it's almost time for the U.S. Figure Skating Synchronized Skating Training Festival in Strongsville, Ohio! Participating in the festival is always one of the highlights of the summer. The DREAMmates start off by participating in the Coaches College, where we learn more about the new IJS communications and get to interact with the top coaches and officials in the country. During the 2 day skating camp, we each take on various roles on and off the ice, serving as team leaders, on- and off-ice demostrators and helpers. We have fantastic time together and with all the campers participating. It is always such a neat thing to see how everyone comes together in such a short amount of time, regardless of where the individuals come from.

Hope everyone has had a fabulous summer so far and we can't wait to see you in Ohio next week!

Love from California,

Friday, July 15, 2011

DREAM Alumni Update - Emily Saitta

Emily Saitta was an original DREAM Athlete, serving as a member of the program from 2008-2010. Saitta has competed as a member of University of Michigan's collegiate team, as well as been a member of Team USA while competing with the Crystallettes senior team. Before college, Saitta was a skater with the ICE'Kateers Synchronized Skating Teams, from Anaheim, Calif., for six years.

Since completing my time with the DREAM program, I have done quite a bit of skating and traveling. I decided to apply to study abroad in Sydney, Australia for the second semester of my junior year and was accepted into the program! I focused and worked really hard on my singles skating and passed my senior freeskate test in November 2010, right before I left for Sydney. This was a huge accomplishment for me and I was then able to “hang up my skates” for a few months while traveling around Australia. But before I took that 15 hour flight around the world, I had to get my synchro fix satisfied! In the two months I spent at home before flying to Australia, I skated with the ICE’Kateers senior synchronized skating team. After a few short weeks of training, I competed with the team at sectionals in Minnesota. I had a wonderful time performing the routines and was able to spend my last few months in California with some great friends.

Before I knew it, I was off to Australia for an adventure of a lifetime. I lived in Australia for 5 months taking a full load of classes, interning with travel agency Backpacker World Travel, and learning how to budget extremely well. I made great friendships, navigated through unfamiliar lands, and studied in a new teaching environment. A quote from my final posting to my personal blog that I updated while in Australia sums up my time while studying abroad:

“This has been perhaps the greatest experience of my life. I can't imagine my college career being complete without studying abroad. It is a learning experience you simply can't get any other way. I have learned so much from this experience, including increased knowledge in economics and the marine environment through my courses. I worked for a local business with English and Irish people learning about their cultures and lifestyles. I learned how to live off the land, make a fire, and even play guitar. I made great friends and explored an AMAZING country.

Walking past the opera house and Sydney Bridge never gets old. I am in awe every time. By talking to and living with individuals from other countries, my eyes were open to what goes on in the rest of the world. I even changed my homepage to BBC international! I have learned how to relax here and value the time I get to listen and talk with friends. Making dinner and singing to a guitar is just as great as camping in the rainforest and swimming under waterfalls when you are with great friends. Being here was such a surreal experience. Everything around you is beautiful and you are learning so much at the same time. I am so glad I did it.”

I have just returned home to California and am spending time with friends and family before I head back to the University of Michigan for my final year as a senior! This has been such an incredible journey and it proves to me that one can accomplish all of their desires including skating, studying abroad, being involved in clubs, attending sporting events, knowing professors personally, meeting incredible people, and being happy knowing that many doors are available just waiting to be opened!

--Emily Saitta

Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer Update From Wisconsin

Summer in Wisconsin is always just as busy as my school year. I’m grateful that I have such a supportive skating club where I can come home and coach 6 days a week, while taking 12 credits of summer school, preparing for tryouts in the fall, working on a senior free program, staying in shape, running 5Ks & 10Ks and making a profit by pursuing my passion for photography through family portraits, senior pictures and an upcoming wedding. I guess there is just a little bit of free time in there to enjoy spending time with family, friends and three little nephews.

As a communications major, I’ve started job searching for life after graduation. I’d like to do something where I can incorporate advertising, photography, graphic design and/or sports marketing. The options seem endless and I’m still not quite sure what sort of company I can see myself working for, but for now I’ll continue investigating and see where life leads me come next May.
I suppose I really like to make use of every ounce of my day and continuing to do what I love and loving what I do. I think it’s important to soak up the time that I have while I’m still in school and enjoy it all. I guess you could say “busy” is my middle name, but I’ve never had any regrets on how much I take on. Living the life of a student-athlete at Miami teaches skaters many life skills, and one of the most important is time management. You truly can pursue anything you want with focus and perseverance.

I’m off to New Jersey next week to coach a DREAM Camp with Jenna Longo and Audrey McQuade while also visiting visit teammates Christina Lee, Martha Buckley and DREAM member Ashley Mulhern. At the end of the month myself and the nine other DREAM members will head to Strongsville, OH for the annual Training Festival.

An update from one of the camps will be coming soon!

Love & Honor,