Last week, July 25th-29th, the DREAM team traveled to Delaware to participate in the Coaches College/Training Festival. Last year at this festival, I participated in the event as a coach. However, this year I had the opportunity to be a DREAMer! It was a fun, educational, and rewarding experience.
The first two days of our trip were spent at the Coaches’ College. We were fortunate enough to be allowed to go to the classes that discussed the new rules and clarifications. This synchronized skating season, I will be skating on the Crystallette senior team as well as being a coach of the Crystallette intermediate and preliminary team. These classes were extremely helpful in distinguishing exactly what the judges and callers are looking for as a coach and a skater. As a DREAM skater, I was also afforded the privilege of demonstrating for the on ice sessions. I learned a lot of helpful drills that I will bring back and share with my teams. The sessions at Training Festival included: turns and edges, elements, musical interpretation, freestyle moves and much more. Focusing on the main elements and step sequences in the program was also helpful because the rules have a tendency to be clarified throughout the season and working/actively doing the elements gives me a better idea of how to explain and complete the element so that each maneuver gets called.
The Coaches College ended Friday afternoon and the Athlete Welcome was scheduled for Friday evening. At the Athlete Welcome, I was asked to give a speech on one of the challenges that I have overcome in my synchronized skating career. After some thinking, I chose to talk about having my mother as a coach. After writing my speech and practicing for hours, I was nervous but felt ready to speak in front of the athletes, parents, and coaches. I believe that the reason I was so nervous was because I wanted to make a good impression, represent the Crystallettes with dignity and make my mom proud. In my speech, I mainly focused on how having my mom as a coach, was hard because she has always held me to a very high expectations. However, I knew she pushed me so hard because she wanted me to be the best I could be and I would not want it any other way. I love having her as my coach and enjoy making my skating memories right along side of her. Remember, if a coach, mentor or parent are tough on you, it is probably because they see something special in you and want you to succeed. Sennet and Tessa spoke as well and it was interesting to hear their challenges along with how they overcame them. After a successful and inviting Athlete Welcome, it was time for bed because there was still a long weekend of skating ahead.
Saturday and Sunday were two of my favorite days out of the whole trip because I got to skate with the different age/level groups in the festival. I thoroughly enjoyed working and demonstrating for the different coaches and all of the athletes attending the festival. The skaters were eager to learn and had great personalities. It was evident that all of the athletes are truly dedicated to this sport. I found that through all of my demonstrating and working with the other coaches that I acquired a ton of helpful knowledge and drills! It was very exciting to see how different all of the top coaches in the country were. I learned many new drills that they teach their teams. I was happy that I received the opportunity to work with all of those different individuals and I am eager to share all that I have learned with my teammates and the teams I coach.
Another part of the training festival that I liked was choreographing the programs with the coaches. I had the opportunity to help choreograph the Footloose number with Josh Babb and Shannon Peterson (my mom) as well as the Across the Universe number with my mom and Brooke Sloan. Along with helping choreograph those two numbers, the DREAM team had a number to Dream Girls! After two short 50 minute practices, our DREAM program came together and was fun to perform at the exhibition. I particularly enjoyed watching the other groups perform their programs! It was clear that the athletes were having fun performing and skating with their “Festival teammates”. I am very thankful for all of the new friendships that I have made and all the information that I acquired over the weekend. I cannot wait to see everyone at competitions this year. Training Festival was a great experience and I am very excited to see what experiences next year’s event will bring!