Freshman Caty Sergent keeps her skates sharp as she slides in formation with the rest of her team. Though this is only a practice, each attempt at learning new choreography takes the utmost concentration. (NICOLE KHUDYAKOV / EYE OF THE TIGER)
Freshman Caty Sergent keeps her skates sharp as she slides in formation with the rest of her team. Though this is only a practice, each attempt at learning new choreography takes the utmost concentration.

NICOLE KHUDYAKOV / EYE OF THE TIGER

Freshman skater sparkles on ice

March 2, 2020

 

Caty Sergent does up her skates to prepare to take to the ice. Sergent is one of nine girls on the skating team the Sparklers. (NICOLE KHUDYAKOV / EYE OF THE TIGER)

There’s a familiar thrill to hearing her teammates shriek, cheer and shout behind the plexiglass as she enters the rink. Each smooth swipe over the ice is greeted with cacophony in the form nine girls in matching Sparklers jackets cheering out, “Caty!” The sound echoes off the walls of a rink at least twice as large as her home rink.

The painstakingly choreographed routine eventually ends, and Caty Sergent is swarmed with girls in matching, bedazzled jackets. These are the Sparklers, Sergent’s synchronized skating teammates. This was Tahoe, where Sergent won a grand total of over 50 medals.

But victory takes preparation. Caty spends her Saturdays on the ice. Each session is a matter of muscle memory, team drills and cooperation. Where, in practice, Sergent may stumble over her own anxiety, her uncertainty rarely follows her into the competitive rink. Solo skater at nine, Sergent knew she enjoyed the ice but she also held a lot of uncertainty about her abilities as a skater. Then she was invited to join the newly started Sparklers, the ice rink’s second synchronized ice skating team. With her mom’s encouragement, Sergent gave the opportunity a whirl.

“I feel like other people have my back,” Sergent said. “And it’s just a lot of support.”   

The team spends Saturdays on the ice, building up their muscle memory and cooperation for competition. (NICOLE KHUDYAKOV / EYE OF THE TIGER)

“She’s very good at picking herself back up… Attitude is everything out there.””

— Coach Jennifer Jones

Now, after having achieved tenure as an athlete, Sergent exhausts herself  while performing in a competitive sport that requires her to push past her knee injury and practice  multiple times a week, both on and off the ice.

As a mentor figure to her team, composed largely of younger girls, Sergent must keep a relatively cool head, especially with the promise of nationals at Boston looming over the horizon. 

Sergent’s positivity is palpable. She takes on the role of team counter, keeping the girls in line and on rhythm, which is something coach Jennifer Jones more than appreciates.

“She’s very good at picking herself back up,” Jones said. “She’s got a very vivacious personality and that shows through in skating. Attitude is everything out there.”

And Sergent has it in spades. Her passion reflects in her skating, giving each performance a taste of her “vivacious” personality, according to Jones.

The Sparklers bond over Ramen noodles and Uno cards outside the rink. Sergent has become a mentor to her team over the years. (NICOLE KHUDYAKOV / EYE OF THE TIGER)

Caty and the rest of the Sparklers have burrowed themselves into routine schematics and stress. Even seasoned competitors get nervous, and sometimes, the girls want to seek someone out for advice. Caty is the go-to. 

“She keeps a good attitude throughout the whole season, she doesn’t judge anyone, and she helps everyone.” Emily Kelten, a former teammate, said.

Her technical advice and verbal coaching techniques place her at the top of the list to assure the Sparklers. 

With several new girls joining the flock, Sergent has an opportunity to reach out and forge more lasting friendships filled with on-ice stumbles, exhausted mid-practice Uno games and cups of hot ramen. 

“They look up to me,” Sergent said. “We’re kind of like a family here.”

 

 

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