Hitting the ice with Western's Figure Skating Club
Meeting every Thursday morning at the Bellingham Sportsplex, the WWU Figure Skating Club, led by co-presidents Jane Ewing and Majka Edwards, rebounded after the COVID-19 pandemic and creates an inclusive environment for whoever comes by.
“We had to build ourselves back up because of COVID-19," Ewing said. “A lot of our leadership graduated during that time, so it was run by three people coming out of the pandemic.”
Ewing said the club is open to any student, regardless of their experience.
“We’re open to all levels,” Ewing said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve never set foot on the ice before or if you’ve been skating your whole life.”
At the beginning of the year, the club had about 25 members, but has gotten closer to 30 members as the year progressed.
“Our whole mission is to have fun and experience new things,” Ewing said. “We’re not necessarily there to be number one but we’re there to have that experience and build that community.”
The figure skating team is divided into two groups, one being a competition team, and the other being a recreational team. While the competitive team competes across the country and requires a larger time commitment, the recreational team focuses more on creating bonds with each other and building skills in a stress-free environment.
“When we’re going to practice, it’s easy to forget about life outside,” Edwards said. “A lot of people say they’ve had a stressful day and don’t want to come to practice but feel so much better afterwards."
Edwards said they and the other officers host group practices together to make sure there’s no divide between recreational and competitive skaters and works to make practice a fun and welcoming place for everyone.
“We’re really support based,” Ewing said. “I really like to emphasize being there for each other. We’re screaming, we’re cheering. It’s really about showing your support.”
Ewing said figure skating can be a very expensive sport, but the club tries to reduce those costs by providing equipment and time on the ice at a lower cost. Most of all though, Ewing said one of the best parts of her job is getting to coach people as they come into the club.
“There’s many proud moments,” Ewing said. “Seeing the students I coach step out of their comfort zone and perform makes me so proud.”
Sydney Check, one of the recreational figure skaters in the club, said she appreciates how the team provides a comfortable space for people to pick up a new hobby.
“One of the things I was worried about going into club was that there’d be distance between members who were really experienced and those just starting out since everyone is coming from different backgrounds in ice skating,” Check said. “I found quickly that this wasn’t the case at all! Everyone was friendly and genuinely cared about teaching, supporting and learning together so we could grow as a team.”
Seeing the students I coach step out of their comfort zone and perform makes me so proud.
Edwards said figure skating as a sport has stereotypes around being exclusive around body type or gender but said the club is inclusive of anyone willing to come on the ice and give figure skating a try.
“The whole sport has a very bad reputation with body weight and how little or skinny you have to be,” Ewing said. “I don’t think it’s about that. If you enjoy figure skating, it’s for you.”
The team also hosts several team events such as picnics or other activities that promote group bonding.
“We love seeing people go out there and build up their confidence throughout the year,” Edwards said. “Figure skating is a hard sport to get into and it can be really intimidating for people, so they may not want to do it on their own. We try and make it very beginner friendly.”
Western’s team competes in three competitions in Denver, Oakland and San Diego, but holds a spring show outside of these competitions to allow people who decided not to or could not compete during the year to showcase their skills.
This year, the show will be held on Friday, May 26 from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, May 27 from 1 – 3:30 p.m. at the Bellingham Sportsplex.