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Views on Campus: Through the eyes of an IceCat
By Taylor Chelo
With my first year at Quinnipiac just around the corner, I knew that hanging up my skates would be inevitable. Unfortunately, collegiate figure skating teams are pretty hard to come by, and this is a fact that most figure skaters like myself have to come to accept.
As a competitive figure skater for 13 years, putting away my blades made this time so bittersweet. I was eager to start the next chapter of my life at QU, but there was this sense of nostalgia that I felt just thinking about letting go of the one thing, the one passion, that had become such a significant part of me. Little did I know that I would be fervently asking my mom to ship my skates from Smithfield, R.I., to Hamden, Conn., only two weeks into the school year.
Mallory Robalino, sophomore team manager of the Quinnipiac University IceCats, posted a brief description of what the team was all about on the Class of 2017 Facebook page—more specifically encouraging experienced figure skaters to give it a try. Naturally, I messaged her right away not only to get tryout information, but also to share my love for the sport with her. I would’ve never thought an opportunity like this would come.
In the blink of an eye, the day of tryouts arrived. I honestly thought I would be that typical freshman shaking to the core from being so nervous, but given the fact that the tryout dealt with what I have come to know and love, I put all of my heart into it and left my nerves at the rink doors.
When it was time to deliberate and make final cuts, my friend and fellow figure skater Anna D’Amico and I stood there with shaking hands as we waited to get the white envelopes that held our fate. We walked off to the side, envelopes in hand, and opened them together in silence. I ripped the seal, and, to my surprise, I saw the purple “Congratulations” ticket staring back at me. Anna and I simultaneously looked up from our envelopes with tears in our eyes, nodding our heads in approval. We made it.
Ever since that day, my schedule has been packed with all sorts of IceCat extracurriculars. Not only do we have three-hour practices and cheer at the weekend hockey games, but we also get involved in a variety of event appearances and community service activities, especially those concerning our team philanthropy of IceCats Fight Cancer for St. Baldrick’s, an incredibly reputable childhood cancer foundation. The IceCats, as well as the rest of Quinnipiac’s renowned Division 1 athletic teams, are so multi-faceted in the ways in which they reach out to others; they show their dedication both on and off the field. I have always had a passion for putting the needs of others before my own, and I am so glad that I have found that here as a new member of both the IceCat and the Quinnipiac community.
Aside from the countless number of hockey ticket requests that I get on a daily basis, the most common question that I have gotten ever since making the team has been, “What has been your favorite part so far?” There is one moment in particular that I will always remember, and that moment was during Parent’s Weekend at the home hockey game against Holy Cross. After concluding our last cheer of the second period, I felt a small tap on my arm. I turned around to see an adorable girl that couldn’t have been any older than ten years old. What struck me the most about her was that she was the spitting image of me when I was her age: round face surrounded by brown, curly hair with big blue eyes.
I crouched down to her level to greet her and ask what she had hiding behind her back. Out came a poster with the Quinnipiac hockey team and their game schedule on it in her two little hands as she asked, “Can you sign this for me?” The best part of this little fan encounter was how her entire face lit up when I asked her to hold my pompoms for me while I signed her poster. Words can’t describe how flattered I was not only by this autograph offer, but just the mere fact that she looks up to me and the rest of my teammates. As an elementary education/English double major, I especially took this moment to heart. I may not be signing autographs for my students, but I certainly hope to make a difference in their lives as they, too, grow to be role models themselves.
I am so eager for the rest of my first year with the IceCats to unfold. I have already learned so much, not only about the physics of throwing T-shirts from the ice and learning countless cheers, but also about what it means to be a Bobcat: to make your mark on the world and on yourself with the utmost enthusiasm and pride.