Finding Grace on the ice
Sparta sixth grader Grace Levere isn’t your average 11-year-old.
Following her school day at St. Patrick’s Catholic School, there’s no time for video games.
On a typical day, Grace is on the move to one of her different after-school interests.
You’ll find her at piano or violin lesson; at dance class; volleyball practice; archery lessons; or at the skating rinks in Tomah and Sparta for skating lessons. In the winter, she also snowboards and swims with the Fort McCoy swim team. And in the summer, you can find her waterskiing with the River City Water Ski Team in French Island.
“I try to keep her busy,” said Grace’s mom Jessica Levere. “She has a lot of energy; I try to find activities for her where, in the future, she may be able to use the skills she’s learning.”
But out of her list of extra curriculars, there’s one activity that Grace loves more than the rest: figure skating.
“The more I learn the more I want to skate,” said Grace, who started skating at the age of six at a rink in Columbus, GA.
A friend invited her to go ice skating at a local rink, and the experience prompted Grace to sign up for lessons.
“That’s where it started,” she said.
Looking back on the almost six years she’s spent on the ice, Grace said skating has already taught her lessons that will translate to other areas of life, including not to give up on things you want to accomplish and to challenge herself.
Jessica has seen these attributes develop as Grace has advanced.
“When she was little, she saw the other girls and how they jumped and she wanted to do that too,” Jessica said.
Today, Grace is doing those jumps she wanted to do as a little girl.
Her favorite moves on skates include a Lutz jump, along with camel spins and “shoot the ducks.”
She’s come as far as she has thanks to her involvement with the 7 Rivers Figure Skating Club, which she joined shortly after moving to Wisconsin almost four years ago, and her skating coach, Nicole Rausch-Dooley. Grace skates at the rinks in Sparta and Tomah, and with clubs in Onalaska and La Crosse during the summer. She does a few competitions each year.
Nicole said Grace is currently preparing for her fifth Intermediate moves-in-the-field test and second preliminary free skate test. If she passes, she’ll advance to the next levels.
As a point of reference, U.S. Figure Skating has a series of eight proficiency tests in both categories that a skater must pass in order to represent Team USA at international events. In the last year Nicole said Grace has passed three moves-in-the-field tests and one free skate test.
“Her progress in the sport has been quite impressive,” said Nicole, adding that from the start, she could see that Grace had great potential.
“Grace is very determined and diligent as she works hard to achieve her goals,” Nicole said. “She holds herself to a high standard… and understands that even when she can perform a certain element, there is always room to improve.”
While her next tests are right around the corner in May, right now, Grace’s sights are set on the 7 Rivers Figure Skating Club’s annual show where she will be skating a solo, in addition to two group performances, and the opening and closing numbers.
Most of all, she’s looking forward to having fun and showing what’s she’s learned over the past year.
“The kids work very hard for the minutes you see them on the ice,” Jessica said of the upcoming show.
The 2019 7 Rivers Figure Skating Club’s ice show, “The Greatest Show on Ice,” is a big top themed production, featuring participants skating to several selections from the movie, “The Greatest Showman.” “The Greatest Show on Ice” will take place at 7 p.m. March 15 and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on March 16 at the Tomah Ice Center.