On any given day on the rink at Chelsea Piers, a group of young professional figure skaters can be spotted alongside struggling amateurs and first-timers. The team, ‘Reach for the Sky Rink All Stars,’ is a group of teenage girls ranging from 12 to 18 years of age. Together for the past six to seven years, the girls have been dedicated to creating unique choreographic work and participating in local as well as national competitions, all while juggling a busy schedule split between schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
But for these girls, skating is not just about adding impressive experiences to their resumes or forging a career in the hope of going to the Olympics. It is more about building an inclusive community, enhancing the very precious relationships they have built with each other.
“I really love skating because it’s a way to express emotions and to play a character and just kind of step outside of your life and just be someone else for a while,” said team captain Catherine Mayer.
Like other girls on the team, Mayer believes that skating can be a fulfilling activity, teaching them social skills, responsibility, time-management, dedication and how to generate good ideas.
Although she’s not sure if skating will become her permanent career, Mayer is grateful about how much she has learned from skating. “You know if you get frustrated about stuff,” she said, you “just persevere and that has just kind of made me a better person.”
In the end, the experience for Mayer and the others is about something much more basic: growing up.