by Molly Rosenfeld

I’ll start off by saying I am not much of an athlete, never was, and probably never will be. My lung capacity is below average, I don’t have much in the way of upper body strength, and I’m not particularly flexible.

As a young child, I participated in swimming, ballet, soccer, and gymnastics. It was important to my parents that I got good aerobic exercise at least once a week and that I tried a variety of activities to find a good fit. After I learned how to rollerblade at 10, I wanted to ice skate. I loved it from my very first public session, and my parents signed my sister and me up for group classes.

To my own surprise, skating came relatively easily to me. I have a good balance and have enjoyed learning new elements and choreography. I passed the five recreational levels within a year and began learning jumps and spins. 

In seventh grade, I had other commitments and had to take time off. I started playing recreational volleyball and joined the swim team at my high school, but found that I didn’t really enjoy either one. 

I later took a dance class at school, and “jumped” at the chance to start ice skating again. I signed up for more group classes on weekends and have been going once or twice a week ever since. For the past five years, I have worked with a private coach. When I’m in Southern California with my family, I go to The Rinks-Lakewood ICE. It’s truly become another home for me. I walk through the doors and I know I’ll be around people who care about me, who are people I deeply care about in return. 

Last August, I moved to Northern California to attend San Jose State University. I started up with group classes at Solar4America Ice-San Jose. I don’t feel the same connections and love that I do at Lakewood, but it’s been a nice change of pace.

And then… the pandemic happened.

It’s been difficult taking time off, but I suppose absence does make the heart grow fonder. I’m looking forward to beginning taking the United States Figure Skating sanctioned tests and thus begin competing. Thus far I’ve only taken tests through the Ice Sports Industry and competed on a recreational basis against myself or only one other person in my division.

Ice skating is an expensive pastime, but I’ve found it worth every penny. It’s my favorite outlet, exercise and socialization all rolled into one! I plan on skating for the rest of my life.

I reached out to a couple of coaches I’ve known for years to learn what professionals are currently doing.

Angel Sarkisova started skating when she was 6 years old and has been coaching for about 10 years. She will be transferring to California State University Los Angeles this fall as a communication major.

Q: At what point during your childhood did you realize that you truly enjoyed and had a talent for ice skating?

A: I realized I loved skating almost right away about a week into coming back consistently. I realized I had some natural ability for the sport shortly thereafter and decided to commit myself full-time to try to reach my full competitive potential.

Q: What are your favorite memories from being a coach?

A: I have so many favorite/special memories from being a coach. I really can’t remember specifics anymore, but rather the especially special moments. My favorite memories of coaching come from my everyday conversations, milestones, and accomplishments my kids achieve on a regular, non-special day. In other words, my favorite moments happen every day, while I share some kind of special interaction between one of my skaters and myself.

Q: How do you think coaching and skating will change when we return after the pandemic?

A: After the pandemic, unfortunately, I think things will change in ways that will hurt the progress of skating for a while. It will be hard to correct skaters without being able to physically touch or get close to them. Ice time will be much harder to come by and reserve, and we will have to take extra precautions that will take time away from effective training. However, that being said, whatever gives the people and customers peace of mind and safety is most important. So I’ll take whatever we can get when we all get back on the ice, whenever that is.

Skye Wheeler Koachway received a BA in English Rhetoric and Composition from California State University Long Beach and began coaching during her second year of college.

Q: At what point during your childhood did you realize that you truly enjoyed and had a talent for ice skating?

A: I started skating after a Girl Scout field trip to Paramount Iceland when I was 6, and I think I loved it immediately. For sure, I know that I begged my mom for lessons and she finally signed me up the January after I turned 7. She thought I’d take one session of classes and then be over it but of course I loved it and wanted to continue. I don’t remember not skating and I always thought I was “meant to be” a skater.

Q: What are your favorite memories from being a coach?

A: I have so many favorite coaching moments! I’m trying to think of a favorite and can’t think of just one. I love watching my skaters grow up. Most skaters will not become world champions so I always try to think about how I’d like to help them learn actual “life skills”- hard work, positivity, kindness, and sportsmanship. I’ve also loved working on the synchronized skating teams and the shows; the team comradery is amazing!

Q: How do you think coaching and skating will change when we return after the pandemic?

A: I think we’re going to get back on the ice very slowly, beginning with freestyles. Coaches will need to wear masks and be spaced out along the walls. I think some skaters will quit during this break, but the ones who return will really know they love it.

image2
(Selfie at the 2019 ISI Winter Classic Competition!)

image4(With Coach Nha-Quyen Nguyen after I passed my Bronze Freestyle test in July of 2018.)

image3

(With Coach Skye Wheeler Koachway at my first ISI competition.)

image1(The badges I’ve earned for passing the Freestyle 1, Ice Dance 1, and Freestyle Bronze Tests.)

 

 

  By Molly Rosenfeld

You might have seen the “10 Day Performer/Artist Challenge” circling on Social Media. “Every day, select an image from a day in the life of a Performer/Artist: A photo from a day you felt fierce or a memorable moment you’ve had during a practice/performance/show, or anything else meaningful to you. Be active, be positive, be passionate… Raise Awareness of the Arts!” The idea was that you nominate a person a day, but no one ever nominated me. 

When my college, San Jose State University, canceled classes due to COVID-19 in early March, my parents decided I’d be better off at home in Southern California sooner rather than later. I changed my flight back to Long Beach to two weeks earlier than planned. Stuck at home in parent-imposed isolation, I was more than a little bored, so I was trying to find productive things to do. I had access to old photos, and I decided to nominate myself.

Music has been an important part of my life since I did “Music Together” classes with my mom as a toddler. I started violin lessons at school in third grade, and switched to cello seven years later, at the end of ninth grade, my freshman year of high school. 

Molly holding a violin, March 2012.

I had a lot of fun picking out photos, ranging from a shot of me sitting at my grandmother’s piano when I was two, to the yearbook photo of one of my school orchestras. For the tenth and final day, I wanted to do something to tie it all together. With a lightbulb moment of inspiration, I pulled all of the paper concert programs I had saved. There were a lot! I was able to fit a decade’s worth on the family coffee table, 2007 to 2017. They represent my growth as a musician,  and the journey of a lifetime.

Programs for talent shows at Emerson Parkside Academy Charter School, held in the Millikan High School auditorium, to performances as an intermediate “All Star” and Chamber Orchestra Violin III at Leland Stanford Middle School. Then to my one concert as an eighth grade second violinist in the Ohlendorf Orchestra, the middle school Honor Orchestra for the Long Beach Unified School District. It was the first, last, and only time I received city-wide recognition. I was too busy to audition for the high school honor orchestra in ninth grade and tenth grade, not invited to participate in eleventh grade, and was an alternate as a senior, so I wasn’t able to rehearse or perform.

From programs for concerts of original scores of Sibelius and Tchaikovsky at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, before I thought I’d ever have a chance to play music at that level, to accompanying Zigeunerweisen, violinist Christina Eastman’s Senior Solo, to my grand cello debut at fifteen. To the conspicuously absent year that was 2014, the darkest year of my young life. For reasons beyond my control, I was forced to stop playing, and it was devastating. To my comeback at seventeen. This collection ends with programs from the first three shows of Orchestra at the Beach, the long awaited official second orchestra at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. I had the honor and privilege of being a founding member during my early years of college. 

I didn’t include programs from choir concerts or studio recitals where I performed solo pieces. Honestly, they’re not as important to me. Singing has always been more of a hobby, and I take more pride in the music I’ve played collaboratively.

Without orchestra, I’d have a giant hole in my life and heart. I’d feel unfulfilled and almost empty. As a tiny and eager eight year-old with a half size violin, I never imagined that a decade later I’d be a cellist in a university orchestra, but I never stopped doing what I loved; sharing my musical gifts with anyone willing to listen. 

Last April, all of my figurative blood, literal sweat, and occasional tears of frustration tangibly paid off. I was accepted to the undergraduate music program at the School of Music and Dance at San Jose State University. I’m currently pursuing Bachelor of Arts degrees in behavioral science and music. Sometimes I still can’t wrap my head around that. I’ve felt pure shock and disbelief, and awe. I’ve been proud, angry, and sad. I’ve waited, persevered, and triumphed.

I find myself spending a lot of time reflecting on my experiences in orchestra, but rarely appreciating the whirlwind they have proved to be. COVID-19 has forced me to stop and think about how lucky I really am. I found my greatest passion in grade school and held on to it. I’ve been so fortunate, in all but one year since, the only things that have stood in the way are my own feelings of “Maybe there’s a better way to spend my time” “This isn’t worth the work I’ll have to put in” and “I’ll never be good enough”. I’ve pushed through. I’ve spent nearly two-thirds of my life as a true musician, and there’s not a chance I’m stopping now. I’ve decided to pursue a career in music therapy. I can’t wait to combine two of the things I love the most: music and helping others become their best self. 

Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey. As always, to Cecilia Tsan, my cello inspiration. The first performance of Kol Nidre was all that it took for me to fall in love with cello, even though my brain needed time to catch up with my heart. To my classmates and fellow ensemble members who have become some of my dearest friends, and all of my teachers over the years, and to my family, for the unwavering support you’ve given me. I love each and every one of you, and appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. I always have, and I always will.

Molly holding a cello, May 2017