For some, it’s the comfort of their room and for others, with their group of friends, but for Jessica Slocombe, her safe place is the skating rink.
From the moment she stepped onto the ice with the Prince Rupert Skating Club (PRSC), she felt like she fit in.
“I liked how everybody would just include me and how people made me feel here,” Slocombe said while on a break from practice last Wednesday.
At school, she would sometimes get bullied for being tall and having bigger hands than other girls her age, but with the other skaters, she gets a sense of belonging.
Being coached by Sheri Pringle doesn’t hurt either, as Slocombe has nothing but good things to say about the Skating Club’s fearless leader.
“There’s just something about her that makes you happy. She always knows when to make the right jokes and she encourages you,” Slocombe said.
The skater joked she probably owes Pringle $1,000 by now. The coach says everytime Slocome utters the words “I can’t”, she owes her one dollar, so Slocombe figures she has a pretty big tab by now.
She’s enjoying a healthy season this year after a year of disappointment in 2015-16, which she said has been the biggest challenge of her young skating career so far.
When a game of truth-or-dare went wrong, Slocombe landed on the ground with such force that she snapped her kneecap in half.
“Worst day ever,” she said, now able to smile about the memory.
A hospital visit confined her to crutches and a brace and she had to take most of the skating season off. During her recovery, after she no longer had her leg brace or crutches, she went to a public skate because she didn’t want to skate in front of her peers yet.
“My physiotherapist told me that I wasn’t allowed to jump because my leg wasn’t strong enough. But the second my skates touched the ice, I couldn’t keep them on it and I felt the need to fly,” Slocombe said.
No one was happier than the 11-year-old to get back on the ice with the Skating Club and be able to land a salchow or waltz jump, which are her two favourite jumps.
The love for skating started seven years ago, when Slocombe was four years old. Her mom took her to an ice show and she watched an older skater do a camel spin and immediately turned to her mom and said she wanted to start skating. She hasn’t looked back since.
“There’s no words to really describe it. It’s just what I like to do, it’s just so fun. Everyone makes you feel like you belong so you just feel like it’s your passion,” she said.
Her wildest dreams include being an Olympic skater someday, and although she isn’t sure that’s possible, she’s at least going to try. Slocombe plans to at least stay in skating until she graduates high school, and then see where things are at by then.
She is now a Star 3 /4 in skating levels and although she hasn’t participated in many competitions as of yet, she will taking part in the West Area Jamboree at the civic centre from Feb. 24-26.
Slocombe loves the sport of skating itself. She loves how when she does the waltz jump, it makes her feel like she’s flying. But probably most important to her is what she gets out of the sport.
“Skating has taught me to believe in myself, be who I am and not really care what people say about me.”