Sports is what some might argue is essential in the character development of children. The wins and ribbons are rewarding but the dedication, losses and the falls are what figure skating is all about.

Falling is something young children often struggle with. Any parent can tell you that watching their child fall becomes a regularity, but the crying and bruises eventually stop. The child tries and tries again, until one day, there is no more falling. By the time the child is 6 or 7 years old, they are walking comfortably and the days of falling are long forgotten. So, why would a parent put their child in a position to fall again?

Sports are an avenue for teaching kids how to accomplish things in life. Many parents like to put their children onto a field to teach them teamwork and how to overcome obstacles. Some may say this can lead to kids not knowing how to work alone. Children quickly forget how to fall and get back up again without help. This is why many parents make the decision to watch their child fall all over again.

Ice skating is an often overlooked sport, especially when kids are just getting their feet under them and learning how to walk. Putting them on the ice can be daunting for parents. Some may go their whole life not knowing how to ice skate and that is just fine. Very few brave the ice because they fear having to learn to walk all over again. So, why learn the beauty and grace of this sport?

Jay Lively Activity Center offers a wide variety of activities that are available to new and experienced skaters alike. Young children get out on the ice and learn from experienced instructors who perform incredible routines in preparation for upcoming competitions.

“The first thing I teach my students is how to fall and get back up on the ice,” said skating instructor Cyanne Henson.

When watching the younger groups skate, it is rare to see them standing. They are always encouraged by the instructors and they never stay down for long.

From a parent’s perspective, getting children out on the ice has several benefits.

“This was something we don’t have to force her to do,” said Jennifer Rohirg, the mother of Nikki Rohirgg, one of the more experienced skaters.

Jennifer Rohirg has been watching her daughter skate since she was 3 years old, which is a very young age for anyone to get out on the ice. Eight years later, she still loves going to the rink everyday to work on routines and get better at all things skating.

Katrina Littlefoot is just getting her child into the sport.

“Normally its just me and him at home and this is a good chance to get him out and interacting with other kids,” Littlefoot said.

She watched as her son fell, got up and made his way off the ice. Then, he would work his way back out to the rink with a determination that is rarely seen in kids. He’d fall again and repeat the process. The 7-year-old continued to work on his skills, driven by the desire for success.

Parents and skaters are fond of coach Antoni Rucker. Jennifer Rohirg praised Rucker for her dedication to the club and the kids she coached. Rucker’s students lovingly call her Toni. Rucker talks through routines with her more experienced skaters and guides the younger skaters while they learn their way around the ice. Rucker is personal with each of her skaters and offers them one-on-one attention.

To Rucker, skating teaches independence, dedication and much more.

“It really challenges the kids to work for themselves. I don’t know what kid can be judged at the age of five, six or seven and go win gracefully and lose gracefully,” Rucker said.

Rucker values the relationships she builds with her current and former students. Former students often call to tell her they went skating and are grateful for the good memories they shared.

Ice skating is a challenging sport but it is just as rewarding. With every fall comes a learning moment. Although the student is alone on the ice, he or she is not alone on the journey. Behind them are countless mentors. Students can rely on parents, coaches and other skaters to teach them and offer a hand up after a rough fall. Ice skating teaches students to get back up, stay strong and create friendships with other skaters who will always have their back.