Not Just Girls on Ice says Female Ice Skater
“We are not Just Girls on Ice” is what we deciphered as we read through one of our ambassador applications. Reading these stories can sometimes bring a tear or sometimes get us fired up! The Beauty in Strength book will be compiled of such stories. Jen is a former professional female ice skater who has created a platform called The Skating Lesson. We asked this amazing woman some personal questions.
What/who inspired you to start in your sport/activity?
I started skating when I was nine years old, in the middle of the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal and the 1994 Olympics. I am from Boston, and I wanted to be just like Nancy, who was also from Boston. She was on every news program and television show, and so watching Nancy skate so well during the Olympics and overcome such adversity motivated me to try to emulate her strength and success in the sport. I went on to train with her coaches on Cape Cod, and Nancy was definitely my role model in the sport growing up.
Do you have a hero/role model?
My mom is my role model. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to appreciate the dedication and the sacrifices she made for my skating career. She paid for my entire skating career on her own. (My parents divorced when I was a toddler.) My career ended up costing around $60,000/ year, and when she wasn’t at the rink watching me skate—or driving me from one rink to another—she was at work. Whether it was weekends, trips to competitions or an evening at home, she was always on her computer working in order to fund my skating career while also attending as many skating practice sessions and events as she could.
When I was 14, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and passed away three years later. Yet, throughout the treatment process, she never missed attending a competition with me or a practice session when I was at home.
Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. When I was eleven, however, I started living away from home to train, so I matured very quickly. Instead of living at home with my mom and sister during the week, I lived with various families who would house me while I skated and went to school Monday through Friday. Then, I would return to my mom on the weekends. I had to learn how to take care of myself at a really young age—scheduling rides for myself to and from school, making sure I got all my school work done, preparing dinner and meals—and I also learned how to deal with the pressure of competition and the sacrifice that can go along with achieving a goal.
If you could have any super power what would it be and why?
I would enjoy being able to time travel. Not so much to travel to the future, but I’d like to go back to the past and relive some fun experiences and also give myself the advice that I needed during various stages in my life. I think a lot of young women are very hard on themselves—whether it’s comparing themselves to others or not feeling like their living up to their own expectations—and so I’d like to go back in time and give myself some muchneeded pep talks.
Tell us a story/incident that happened while you were playing or not playing that may have made you feel defeated. Now tell us how you overcame that.
The first season when I started living away from home to train, I placed a disappointing 7th at the biggest competition of the year, despite skating my very best. Three of the judges ranked me first, but because of the way the ordinals worked out, I ended up off the podium and felt really defeated. It made me question my decision to live away from my family and the work I had done. It also showed me while sometimes you can give something your maximum effort, skating is a subjective sport and the cards won’t always be dealt in your favor. Rather than let the experience defeat me, however, I used to motivate me to learn harder triples, with the plan that at the same competition the next season, I would land more triple jumps than any of my competitors and leave the judges with no doubt that I was the best skater in the field. I was able to achieve that and won the competition the following year. That was an important life lesson: Rather than staying down when I’m defeated, I’ve learned to channel my disappointment and frustration to become better and move towards a bigger goal.