Monday, March 9, 2015

No “Right” Path

As another season comes to a close for United States Synchronized Skating, we are all aware that no time is lost in planning for the next season.   All of this has a different meaning for the athletes who are looking toward the next step in their skating career.  

For many athletes, the love for this sport was developed through a single organization.  This club gave you not only the skills to succeed, but many best friends - which makes it all the more difficult to move in a new direction. This decision does not weigh lightly, as it asks not only what team you will find yourself on, but also how will you balance your life outside of the rink.

My advice to the worried skaters who have this daunting decision ahead of them is simple; decide what matters most to you.  A favorite quote of mine that reads “Ask yourself what is really important and then have the wisdom and courage to build your life around it”.  If the answer to this question is skating, then I know a few girls who were in your shoes not very long ago.

As a small town girl from Howell, Michigan I joined the Ann Arbor Hockette organization at age 12. I had been skating freestyle and synchro for my local club team since the age of 5, but I was ready to take on a new challenge in hopes of pushing myself further.  For five amazing years I skated for the Hockettes and made friends that are still like family to me, today.  I then found myself in the position to move toward my biggest dream - becoming a member of the Haydenettes. 

Lifelong friends that I made during my time on Hockettes, Maggie Mayer (above) and Tessa Hedges (below)

It is hard enough deciding which team may be a good fit, but what about the life you will have to build outside of the rink?  Take a breath - like I said before, just follow year heart. If your greatest goal is to skate, then you will find a way to make it happen.

There is no single or “right” way to make your dreams come true.  My team has followed a number of paths:
  •  Many of the girls on my team attend college full time.  This is perfect for them because it not only allows them to continue their education, but it also gives them a place to call home. 
  • Others have jobs (instead of, or as well as school) to help offset the costs of skating and living expenses. 
  • Some have graduated college already and move to Hayden as their next step – (even from other countries!)
My path has been a bit more winding than that of a normal student athlete. For the past four years I have been a part time Biology/ Pre-med student at Fitchburg State University. Being part time has given me the chance to focus on skating, as well as maintain my GPA. I have had the freedom to work multiple jobs and the flexibility to balance amazing volunteer/internship opportunities, such the Boys & Girls Club and The Special Olympics.  My favorite volunteer opportunity outside of the rink has been working for the New England Aquarium’s Rescue and Rehabilitation center. Each week I shadow Biologists and Veterinarians as they treat wild animals found on the coast of Massachusetts!
A photo taken by The Boston Globe during the record breaking sea turtle stranding season of the fall/winter of 2014-15
I hope all of this can help to ease some of your minds. I know that there is still much uncertainty, but if you are working towards a goal that drives you, then the sacrifices will be nothing in comparison to reaching those goals! Though we are all synchronized skaters working towards the same dreams, our paths will certainly veer in different directions before merging into one.

-Lindsay Grajek

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