The Importance of Mental Health to Your Training and Life

Written By: 2018-19 U.S. DREAM Program and Adrian College Senior Varsity Team Member, Kara Klomparens 

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On our team we commonly ask, “How much do you have left in the tank? How much more can you give?” The answer is not always 100%, actually it is rarely 100%. Sometimes it’s only 75% or 60%; we all have hard days and on those maybe it’s only 30%.  AND THAT’S OKAY!  The answer to this question isn’t dependent on the number you say, it’s what you do with that number. Give 100% of whatever percent you got. Working to improve your tank’s capacity is a hard task and the bottom line is in improving your mental health.

Mental health is a lifelong skill, it is something you have to work at and practice just like anything else. Many of us tend to only notice mental health when it has gone awry, like when we’re stressed, losing sleep or anxious. However, it is important to focus on mental health when life is going smoothly as well!  Having a strong concept of mental health will improve your life on and off the ice; it will enable you to give more out of your tank. You will be happier, more confident and more capable of giving your best.

So, where can we start?

  1. Start by sleeping!

When you’re at the peak of the season and in the depth of the school year, things start piling up quickly and sleep is commonly the first thing to slip. With that being said, it has been proven that sleep is essential for athletic ability. Non-athletes need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and athletes need even more! The most elite and famous athletes we know report that sleep is the most important part of their training: LeBron James claims that he gets 12 hours of sleep a night and Roger Federer agrees with  11-12 hours. Not getting enough sleep reduces your ability to perform,  make quick decisions, and makes you more susceptible to injury.  In fact, sleeping less than 8 hours a night as a student-athlete makes you twice as likely to suffer an injury within a month.

  1. Eat healthy and drink plenty of water!

Food is fuel. You cannot expect your body to function if you are not feeding it properly. Eating healthy gives you the energy you need to train on the ice and learn in the classroom, it helps your endurance and recovery time as well.  Make time in your schedule to eat three full meals a day and bring nutritious snacks like trail mix, fruit, or yogurt wherever you go.

Hydration is also incredibly important both throughout the day and during practice. It is recommended to drink 4 to 8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes of practice.

  1. Take time for yourself!

Always remember to take the time to do what feeds your soul. That could be reading a good book, watching your favorite Netflix show, writing in your journal, or anything that makes you happy! My favorite thing to do to relax is to eat chocolate while watching ‘The Office’ with my friends!

  1. Learn to manage your time effectively!

The best way to handle all the stress that comes with being a student-athlete is staying ahead of the game. Part of your stress can come from keeping everything you need to do cluttered up in your head. Writing everything you have to do (homework, lessons, doctor appointments, competitions, jobs, etc.) down on paper can ease some of your unwanted stress. Try keeping an organized planner with due dates and skating commitments, this way you always know what you need to get done and when.

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How to Stay Focused on Details During Competition Season

Written By: 2018-19 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program Member and Adrian College Varsity Synchronized Skating Team Member, Kara Klomparens

We’ve practiced all season long to finally be staring down the nose of February–the peak of competition season. Together, We’ve spent countless hours on and off the ice perfecting our programs to make them competition ready. By now, most of our programs are set and have become second nature, so what now? What makes a good team great? Here at Adrian, our teams came back from winter break early, eager to take on the rest of our season. We have been putting in extra hours on the ice, in the gym, and in the dance studio. We’ve been focusing on strengthening our elements, adding arms, and improving our synchronicity as well as working on our mental training.

Sebastian Barbarito once said, “the difference between mediocrity and excellence is attention to detail.” So, while your team is preparing to take the trip to nationals or wherever your season has yet to bring you, make sure you’re staying focused on the details. The little things like heads, precise arms, or pointing your toes will set you apart from other teams. Being able to do this will take focus and discipline, but it is well worth it when your team is performing in perfect unison.

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Here are some tips on how to stay focused on the details:

  1. Repetition!

The more you practice the small details, the more they will become muscle memory. Try walking through the program off-ice before you go to bed to hammer in any changes or details added at practice.

  1. Ask Questions!

If you’re not sure exactly what your head or arms are supposed to be doing, ask your coach! Odds are, if you don’t know the answer, one of your teammates might not either.

  1. Always remember the end goal!

Focusing on details can be tedious and sometimes frustrating. When this happens, make sure to take a step back and remember that the work you’re putting in now will be so worth it when you take the ice for competition!

-Kara

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Sun or Snow the Holiday Season Shines

Written By: 2018-19 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Skyliners Senior Member, Emily Kirillov 

The holidays are a great opportunity to spend extra time with your family and friends. Some of my favorite things to do around this time of year are traveling with my family, doing gift exchanges with friends, and seeing all of the holiday decorations (especially in New York City)!

Since we have a small break from practices in the middle of December, it’s the perfect time to unwind and go on a short vacation or just spend time family. This past week, I traveled to Orlando, Florida and had the chance to visit both Disney World and Universal Studios. It was so much fun to see the parks decorated for the holidays with festive lights.  Although it was warmer than the winter weather I am used to at home, the parks were all winter themed and even had artificial snow flurrying through the air.

To my dearest grandpa,

 

Another one of my favorite activities is participating in gift exchanges! Every year during winter boot camp, my team does a Secret Santa. On one of the days, we sit in a circle and exchange each gift one by one! I always look forwards to this moment because it is a fun way to bond with teammates and see all of the thoughtful gifts everyone receives. Recently, some of my past teammates and I did another gift exchange! It was so great to catch up with each other while opening presents.

I especially love seeing all of the beautiful decorations in New York City around the holidays with my friends and family. My friends and I have made it a tradition to see the tree in Rockefeller Center each year. It is always so extravagantly decorated with lights and looks so amazing right behind the outdoor rink. The winter market in Bryant Park is also another fun place to visit around the holidays with the winter, Christmas, and holiday themed shops set up all around the park. Even on the coldest winter days, you can warm up with a cup of tea or hot chocolate while enjoying the views of the city around the park.

The holidays are truly my favorite time of the year because I get to share it with family and my friends.

I hope everyone has a great holiday season and good luck in the upcoming competitions!

Emily

Healthy Yet Tasty Sweets For the Holidays

2018-19 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Starlights Synchronized Skating Team Member, Brittney Rivelli

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Hi everyone!

With the holiday season upon us and winter training quickly approaching, it is important that we continue to fuel our bodies efficiently. Around this time, baking with friends and family is very popular, so it is the perfect chance to try out some new, healthy recipes! Over the past few weeks, my teammates and I have been testing out various pre and post-practice snacks and have been pleasantly surprised with the outcome!

Here are a few of our favorite recipes (so far!):

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork. Stir in the peanut butter, and mix until smooth.
  3. Add in the oats and stir until combined.
  4. Add dark chocolate chips
  5. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are set. Let cool on baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

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EmergingTrends inReal EstateDirections:

  1. Remove the pits from the Medjool Dates and pack them (really pack them!) into 1 cup. Transfer the Dates to a larger bowl and cover with hot water. Soak the Dates for 10 minutes (or just cover the Dates in water and microwave for 60-80 seconds if you want to be efficient).
  2. If you do not have Oat Flour, make some by blending a scant ⅔ cup of Quick or Rolled Oats in a Blender for 45-60 seconds until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Drain any excess liquid off of the Medjool Dates (they should be relatively moist, but not dripping) and add them to a food processor or high speed blender with the remaining ingredients for the Caramel. Process until thick and smooth, scraping the sides of the device if necessary.
  4. Remove the Date “Caramel” from the food processor. Add the Oat Flour to the food processor with ¼ cup of the Date Caramel and process until well incorporated. This should form a slightly sticky “dough” that will hold together when you pinch it.
  5. Firmly and evenly press the Oat Flour Nougat into a small and narrow container.
  6. Use a spatula to spread the remaining Date Caramel evenly over the Nougat, then sprinkle the Peanut Pieces over the Caramel. Use your fingers to press the Peanuts into the Caramel layer, so they stick.
  7. Place this in the freezer for 60-90 minutes, until firm.
  8. Remove the frozen “filling” from it’s container, then use a sharp knife to cut it into bar-sized pieces. Return these to the freezer while you melt your chocolate.
  9. Melt your Chocolate using either a double boiler or the microwave. If you choose to use the microwave, place your Chocolate pieces in a wide bowl (so the candy bars will fit along the base) and microwave at 30 seconds intervals, stirring in between. Once the Chocolate is 75% melted, stop microwaving and stir the mixture with a spatula until completely melted.
  10. Moving quickly,  place 1 candy bar into the bowl of melted Chocolate. Use two forks to “flip” the bar, until it is coated in chocolate on all sides. Remove the bar from the melted chocolate, letting any excess chocolate drip off. Then, place it onto a plate lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining bars.
  11. Place the bars in the fridge for 5-10 minutes, to allow the Chocolate to harden.
  12. Serve and enjoy! Bars are best stored in the fridge and will last there for up to 10 days. You can also place them in the freezer, where they will last for up to one month – just let the bars thaw for 5 or so minutes before enjoying.

Source here.


EmergingTrends inReal Estate

EmergingTrends inReal EstateDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-count muffin pan very well with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Add the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until fully combined. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Add the chopped apple and gently mix it in.
  4. Evenly distribute the mixture between all 12 cavities in the prepared muffin pan. Bake at 350°F for 25-27 minutes, or until the tops of the oatmeal cups are lightly golden brown and firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes, then remove the oatmeal cups and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Source here.

Feel free to share some of your favorite healthy recipes with us! I hope everyone has the happiest of holidays and very productive training this winter!

Love,

Brittney

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Gift Exchange Ideas

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Written By: 2018-19 DREAM Program and Starlights Synchronized Skating Team Member, Hailey Rosenberg

Hi everyone!

As the holiday season is approaching, many teams are reaching the peak of the season and the most significant portion of their training. This does not mean, however, that the holiday is season is all work and no fun! While my team and I spend a lot of time practicing in preparation for our upcoming competitions, we always find time to celebrate the holidays and new year together.

Whether this means coming together for a holiday party, team dinner, and/or a gift exchange, I always enjoy spending quality time with my teammates around this time of year.

Here are some fun, affordable, and useful gift ideas for your teammates:
1. Practice essentials (gloves, hand warmers, chapstick)
2. Candy is always a good idea:)
3. Fuzzy socks
4. Neck pillow for traveling
5. Make-your-own hot chocolate kit
6. Headband/earwarmer

 

Make gift giving more creative by packaging in:
1. Mason jar with ribbon
2. Mug
3. Water bottles
4. Coffee cup
5. Holiday bag with tissue paper
6. Festive wrapping paper

You can also personalize your gift by:
1. Adding photos
2. Attaching quotes
3. Incorporating decals with a name, monogram, or initials
4. Including memories you’ve shared

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I hope everyone has a happy holiday season and keep working hard!

Love always,
Hailey

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5 Tips for Staying Focused and Calm During Finals Season

Written By: 2018-19 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Skyliners Senior Team Member, Kelsey Bialo

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While I love the holiday season, it unfortunately also brings with it a two-week finals period for most college students, one that is filled with stress, little sleep, and lots of exams. As I start my finals marathon this week, I have been thinking about strategies that help me to keep on task while also keeping my sanity.

  1. Make a game plan for yourself.

Especially when assignments become difficult to prioritize when all are due in within a short period of time, it is important to organize your studying time. At the beginning of each day, I set studying “goals” for myself to direct my focus and keep me on pace so that I’m not leaving anything until the last minute (which I do often!). My studying “game plan” includes what topics/sections I plan to review, the study strategies that will be most effective in helping me review, and how long I will spend focused on one class’ material before I move onto the next.

  1. Have a playlist on hand.

I am someone who lives her life with and through music. At any given point during finals season, I will always have at least four or five different playlists on rotation, ranging from classical music during writing to pump up just before I walk into my exam room. Even if you are someone who needs silence in order to be most focused, it might be helpful to keep at least one singalong, jump/dance/party song on hand to let loose to when the stress gets overwhelming.

  1. Studying can be social, too!

One of the worst parts of final exam period is the inevitable feeling of loneliness, because you spend most of each day buried in your textbooks or paper outlines. Since I go to college, I’ve always made a point of studying with other people, and that doesn’t always mean group studying. For some classes it may be helpful to review with friends, but I have found that even for classes with final projects/papers it can be comforting to have a friend nearby. Even if you are both entirely focused on your own work, it serves as a reminder that you are not alone in the finals battle!

  1. Take care of your mind and body.

While it might not feel as difficult as a back-to-back run through practice, studying is exhausting, and it is important to take care of yourself. The week before my exams begin, I am sure to stock up on healthy snacks that are easy to graze on during extended studying periods, like trail mix, granola, carrots, etc. Additionally, I try to do my workout or skating each day sometime in the afternoon as a way to break up long periods of studying and help me refocus.

  1. Try to keep things in perspective.

While grades are important, at the end of the day, no single grade will make or break your GPA, and none of them are what will be important to you years from now. Stress is expected, but try to keep what matters in perspective, and do not let finals week consume. Remember: you run finals, they don’t run you!

I hope you can find some helpful points from my own studying habits, and good luck to all of you who are wrapping up your semesters and headed into winter training!

– Kelsey

Giving Tuesday

Written by: 2018-19 U.S. Figure Skating Skyliners Senior Team and DREAM Program Member, Kylie Saloma

Hi,

I hope that everyone had a nice thanksgiving and got to spend time with their families. This time of year always makes me think about everything that I am fortunate to have and the support system that is behind me. With Christmas soon approaching and the holiday where one is to give thanks has just passed, I find it really important to take time to give back to others. Simple acts of kindness in your community or volunteer opportunities are a great way to do so. Here are five of the charities that I am a strong supporter of:

1. Make a Wish: I am proud to participate in the Make A Wish charity. As a member of the Chi Omega sorority at Quinnipiac University, our philanthropy is for the Make A Wish foundation. This organization grants “wishes” to children who are diagnosed with severe illnesses. Our sorority hosts two major fundraisers a year to raise money for these children including a basketball game and a carnival.

 

2. Ronald McDonald House Charities: I love this organization because it was founded close to my home in Philadelphia. This charity provides a home environment for families of seriously ill children who are hospitalized or in long term treatment programs. They also give support and furnish resources to ensure that families stay together.

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3. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: This is a touching charity that through donations, has the ability to preform research with the goal of finding cures and preventing pediatric diseases. Their mission is to provide treatment to all children regardless of race, religion, and a family’s financial status.

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4. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA): This is the first humane society established in North America and serves as a voice for animals. I have always loved animals and have a dog of mine own. I find it heartwarming to see that almost 50,000 animals have been rescued from harm through this organization.

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5. Toys for Tots: This organization is prevalent this time of year with the holidays quickly approaching. This program is run by the US marine corps and distributes newly donated toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. I have been donating toys to this organization since elementary school. The donation boxes are usually found in libraries, schools, and community centers in your local area.

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These are a few of the organizations that are close to my heart. There are countless others that do wonderful deeds for people across the country and around the world. I think it is important to identify a cause that you are passionate about and look if there is a way that you can show your support. As you can tell I love organizations that advocate for children and animals. I encourage you all to identify something with meaning to you and find a way you can make a difference this holiday season.

Best Wishes and Dare to Dream,
Kylie

2018 Kalamazoo Kick-Off Recap!

DREAM skater, Rachel Teets on Crystallettes Senior’s performance at Kalamazoo Kick-Off: 

Our free skate debut at the Kalamazoo Kick Off Classic was a success. We were very happy with our skate, and had so much fun bringing the story of Maleficent to life! Now we’re just counting down the days until Porter!

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DREAM skater, Kara Klomparens on Adrian College’s performances at the Kalamazoo Kick-Off:

Kalamazoo Kick-Off was a short and sweet competition this past weekend. All of Adrian College’s teams took the ice confidently and put out strong skates in each event. The teams enjoyed watching the younger skaters’ new programs and are grateful to the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association for hosting such a smooth and fun competition. We look forward to committing to training and preparing to compete at the Dr. Porter Classic in two short weeks!

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Skating, Academics, and Pre-Professional Development

Written By: 2018-19 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Skyliners Senior Team Member, Kelsey Bialo

Every synchronized skater knows the challenges that come with being a full-time student-athlete. In high school, balancing skating and academics meant getting ahead on school work before long weekends of practice, keeping in close contact with my teachers about competition absences, and relying on my friends for help with missed notes and classwork. When I got to college, however, in addition to intensified academic responsibilities, pre-professional development became an extra plate to balance.

As a sophomore at a competitive liberal arts college, there is as much emphasis on academic rigor as extra-curricular and pre-professional experience. Entering my freshman year, I found myself surrounded by classmates who had founded non-profits, developed their own code, or done extensive research in infectious disease clinics, all by their senior year in high school. I came into college feeling as though I had nothing to contribute; my only work experience was teaching Learn-to-Skate, and, not coincidentally, working at figure skating camps. While I am grateful for these valuable work experiences and the chance to see skating through another lens, I sometimes cannot help but feel behind in terms of planning out a career path and securing internships and future work opportunities outside of skating.

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What I have learned to remind myself is that although I have never had the same time and energy to commit to pre-professional development as many of my peers have had, a lifetime of commitment to skating can open doors, too. It is important to take into consideration the connections you have through skating, and to not be afraid to ask around for jobs; there is a high likelihood that you know someone in your field of interest, or an old teammate’s parent knows someone with a connection. More often than not, people in the skating world – those who know firsthand the incredible commitment required to skate competitively – will be thrilled to help you achieve your goals outside of skating and support your search to build work experience and a professional network.

Additionally, in the hunt for jobs and internships, although there will inevitably be time constraints that make balancing skating and pre-professional work challenging, skating provides you with valuable skill-sets and lessons to help you navigate professional experiences. Particularly in interviews, drawing on personal skating experiences can be useful and effective; most employers will recognize the hard work, determination, and dedication required to be a competitive athlete, and will understand how these traits easily translate into professional spaces.

Most importantly, never minimize the value of your skating career! While there may be moments when you feel like “All I’ve done with my life is skate,” it is important to remember the invaluable experiences and lessons a lifetime of skating has given you, and that those experiences and connections will undoubtedly support you in the search for your next career.

– Kelsey

 

What Does It Take to Be On Team USA?

Written By 2018-19 U.S. DREAM Program and Crystallettes Team Member, Rachel Teets

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When you join a synchronized skating team, you may not realize how far this amazing discipline of figure skating can take you. Sure it was not my original goal at the age of 5, but by the time I was 8, all I could think about was being good enough and old enough to try out for Team USA. Now that I am here, I can honestly say that it is an inexplicable honor to represent your country and stand beneath your flag as it rises to the rafters during an international competition award ceremony. This is something much bigger than yourself, as our coaches repeatedly remind us, “It’s not about the me. It’s about the we!”

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Here are the top three qualities needed to become a member of Team USA.

Selflessness

You need to realize that you are now a part of a bigger picture, that your needs now become secondary to that of the team. On the ice, you have to be willing to accept your role, regardless of how big or small and regardless of being in the front row or back, or even as a full spot, alternate or swing position skater. Off the ice, you will sacrifice the social aspects of high school and college life for the better of the team. It means putting your team first. Being 100% committed to your teammates is incredibly important as a member of Team USA.

Resolve

Without judging your success or failure, you need to make decisions that will keep you on the path to achieving your goals. No matter how tired you are, no matter how many times you fall or fail, you must get up, keep going and try until you succeed. It’s the difference between just having a dream and the determination to do whatever it takes to turn that dream into a reality.

Passion and Purpose

You must be dedicated to the “nth” degree. Skaters with passion and purpose literally love all aspects of training. Whether it is off-ice choreography, on-ice skills, strength and conditioning, video review or double runs, a true athlete looks forward to it and gives their all.

To achieve this, I recommend setting specific chronological goals to put you on the path of preparation for excellence. For example, I will be on a juvenile team and pass my intermediate moves by the time I am 12. Next, I will be on a novice team and pass my junior moves by the time I am 14. Then you will be ready to audition for the junior or senior division of Team USA.

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