Sunday, January 1, 2017
Taking Stock at the Start of 2017
It's now 2017, and it is time to take stock of what's important in my life. Certainly, my family is at the top of the list. I am eternally grateful for all of them. My husband continues to be my rock and my anchor. My 94 year old mother keeps life interesting, as do my adult kids, their partners, a beautiful and precocious grandchild and a grand-dog. They all are my thousand points of light that make up our anything-but-normal family.
However, lately I've found myself on the fence about things outside of heart, hearth and home. I've relatively successfully transitioned from being a skate mom to being a skating mom. (There is a difference - a slightly lower level of crazy and a somewhat higher level of respect.) I don't wear a hair shirt or flail about wailing at the loss of my previous life. I have other things to occupy my time.
To a degree, however, that is my conundrum.
For the second straight year, I am heading to Nationals as a spectator and not a skate mom. It is an important season for all skaters hoping to make it to PyeongChang in 2018. This is a dress rehearsal, of sorts. This is the competition where skaters will start to jockey for position and show that they are worthy opponents on the frozen world stage. Of course, next year in San Jose everything will be on the line. This year, though, we will see who stands out - and stands up to the pressure.
This year, however, I'm going not only for the standout stories, but for the ones that are lesser known, among them is competitor-turned coach-turned competitor again, Dennis Phan.
The same age as my son, I watched Dennis compete for many years. He was a US National Champion at Junior and a Junior Grand Prix Gold Medalist. His last senior competition was Spokane in 2010. A beautiful, stylist, Dennis did shows and then turned to coaching. However, at 31 he felt he had not put a period at the end of his competitive sentence. Against odds, he began training again. He competed at Regionals and qualified. I watched him compete at Sectionals here in Colorado where he took Bronze. I watched him tear up with pride knowing that he had done something most adult skaters would not even dream of doing after not competing for six years. I will be there to watch him skate beautifully, for his family, friends, his coaches and himself. That will be a victory in a season of personal and professional growth. I, for one, will stand and applaud.
I will also cheer loudly for many others who continue to train hard, ignoring the sands of time that are inevitably sifting slowly to the bottom of the glass. These are the heroes of our sport. Some better known; some not. They exist in all disciplines and they continue to fight to do it their way against what others would consider insurmountable odds. They are the warriors, the soldiers and the cement that allows ice to take shape. They do not melt; they continue to add layers for the next generation of dreamers and doers.
Why is this a conundrum for me? I should be there looking at the bigger picture, and I will most certainly be doing that. I will cheer for the men, ladies, pairs and dancers, most of whom I've known since they were mere babes on blades. My heart is with them as they make their statement about representing Team USA in 2018. I know what they are going through right now. It is all too familiar. It is a level of nerves that strikes me to the core.
So, I'm taking stock of what matters to me right now, and that is seeing the lesser publicized stories play out on the ice in Kansas City. It's important to remember that each skater who earned a spot by qualifying through Regionals and Sectionals made a personal statement. They worked hard to get there and they deserve their moment, and our respect.