Thursday, February 26, 2015

My “Rhode” to the 2015 US Synchronized Skating Championships

The idea that all good things must come to an end is one that I refuse to believe is true… at least in this particular situation. As I sit here on the 13 hour bus ride with the Miami University Skating Organization, headed to my final National Championship, I am thinking about how my experience as a synchronized skater over the past 16 seasons has not just been a good thing, but an incredible life changing experience.  A long road came prior to this year’s National Championship.  A road that had some bumps and many hills to climb, but also some unbelievable views from the tops of those hills. Although this may be my final National Championship, I don’t see it as the end of the road, but just a veer in a new direction.

2004 Juvenile National Championships
It all started as a seemingly giant goal for a fairly small 9 year old attending her first Nationals at the juvenile level back in 2003. I had a dream of competing on a nationally ranked senior level team that would compete internationally as part of Team USA. Things really started three years before that when an even smaller 6 year old little girl, begged her mom to let her try this thing called precision skating. Year after year I became more and more in love with the sport, and thrived on the energy I received from performing and competing. The road to where I am now was not always a smooth sheet of ice, but it had some rocky starts, downfalls, and uphill battles.

The first several years that I competed at the U.S. Synchronized Skating National Championships, I was absolutely thrilled to be there and to experience it all. The outcome however, was not quite as exciting as the event itself, ending many times towards the bottom of the division. As the years went on, my teammates and I worked even harder, became more and more driven to succeed, and finally began to rise in the ranks. It wasn’t until 2006 that I finally earned my first national medal, the novice division pewter in Grand Rapids, MI. Moving into the junior division, we struggled to make it onto the podium, but it was those times of adversity that brought us together and made us fight even harder the next season. This perseverance through even the most devastating of performances afforded me 4 international competitions with Team USA at the junior level and 2 appearances on the Junior World Team as both Team USA 1 and Team USA 2.

2006 Novice Pewter Medalist
Starting a new chapter of my life and moving on to college, I could not be happier or luckier to be a part of the Miami University Varsity Synchronized Skating teams, where I have been given the best of both worlds. Competing on the senior team for the past 4 years has been a dream come true and the only place you can proudly say that you represent your university and your country each and every time you take the ice with your 19 best friends. While things haven’t always gone the exact way that I may have wanted them to, I have learned more than I could have ever imagined from each of these experiences. The synchronized skating world and culture as a whole have shaped me into the athlete and person that I am today. I have countless memories, lifelong friendships, and connections that I will hold close to me wherever the future may take me.

2011 U.S. Junior National Champions - Skyliners
I am beyond excited to compete at my final U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships as an athlete, alongside my 18 teammates. I truly could not think of a better group of girls to compete with. However, my Nationals road is not ending here, I look forward to returning to future U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in a new way that will keep me as close as possible to this sport that has given me so much, and that I will love forever.

Best of luck to all the skaters competing this weekend in the 2015 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in Providence, RI. Remember to fully enjoy each and every moment, cherish your teammates around you, and most of all have a blast!
Miami Senior Team ready to take on Providence and the 2015 US Synchronized Skating Championships
Photo Credit - Chandler Carroll

Love & Honor Forever and a Day,
Ashley Mulhern

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