Juvenile level dance team Kate McDermott (16) & Colin McManus (15) teamed up after skating in the Skating Club of Boston’s championship Ice Theater program. They are coached by Justin Pekarek and Hillary Gibbons.
When did you start skating?
Kate: I started skating when I was 8 taking Basic Skills classes at the rink down the street. After about a year I was burnt out from all of the other activities I had going so I took a break from skating until I was 10. When I was 11 I started testing through the levels.
Colin: I started skating when I was 7 years old at a learn-to-skate program in my hometown called the Mass Bay Skating Club. Many of the group coaches are still teaching there and I enjoy helping them out with the new generation of skaters.
Why did you start skating?
Kate:I started skating because my mom asked me if I wanted to try it and I thought it sounded like a lot of fun.
Colin: I started skating because of my older sister Meagan. She started to take lessons and being the younger brother, I just had to copy her. After a few years, she stopped, but I kept going.
Why did you decide to pursue ice dancing?
Kate: I started doing freestyle and one of my coaches in New York thought it would be good for all of her students to take up ice dancing in addition. So I started passing the solo dances, I had passed up through pre-silver before I moved to the Boston area. Colin and I started to skate together in March of 2005.
Colin: I’ve always been a freestyle skater and actually made it to the 2004 JN’s competing in Intermediate. Ice dancing was something that I thought about, but never really pursued. I have always enjoyed doing footwork and moves in the field, but I also love spinning and jumping. Then I met Kate. She was also skating Intermediate freestyle and had some ice dancing experience, but never with a partner. My parents joke about how Kate and I went into the sport backwards, because we partnered up first and then decided to try ice dance together. From the first time I skated with her, it just felt very natural.
How did you team up?
Kate: Well, we teamed up officially in March of 2005 but I first met Colin when I moved to the Boston area in 2003. We were both freestyle skaters and we both did theatre on ice. In our theatre on ice program Justin Pekarek teamed us up to dance spin. At a show for ice theatre we were discussing ice dance with one of our friends that was competing at the time and he suggested that we should compete together. We both laughed at the idea of it at the time but then soon realized that it was something that we really wanted to do. We started to skate together just for fun on Sunday club sessions. Before the season started we did a show at the mass bay rink and skated together doing the Dutch Waltz in our annual club show, Ice Chips.
Colin: It all began with our clubs Ice Theatre program. Kate and I, both skating left handed, were paired up to do a dance spin in the routine. Our friend Andy Withrow is an ice dancer and he suggested that we should go ahead and try it out. Kate and I talked about it at the 2004 regionals and decided to have fun with it and see where we ended up. I had never danced before, so I did have some catching up to do with learning the first 3 dances and then passing our Juvenile free dance together.
Who are your coaches?
Kate: We are coached by Justin Pekarek and Hilary Gibbons. We decided to ask Justin to coach us because he was coaching me through my solo dances and he was one of the ice theatre coaches. At our pre season meeting we learned that we would also be working with Hilary Gibbons. We are glad to have such great coaches.
Colin: Justin Pekarek is one of the choreographers on the ice theatre team and the one who paired us up for the dance spin. He was also coaching Kate through some of her dances, so it only seemed natural to ask him about coaching us as a team. It started out great and then got even better when Hilary Gibbons joined him as our 2nd coach. They both look at different aspects of our skating and their coaching technique really works well.
How as working with your coaches benefited your skating?
Kate: I like working with Justin and Hilary because they push us and expect our best. They have helped Colin and I become much stronger skaters. There are so many benefits to skating with a team of coaches who were also competed together. In the summer Justin would take us on an intense workout. Hilary has helped me a lot to come out of my shell with expression.
Colin: Justin and Hilary brought out a new side of me. Not only has my ice dancing improved, but my freestyle as well. I’ve gotten many compliments on my posture, expression and footwork since starting dance.
What do you like most about skating with your partner?
Kate: Colin and I are more than just partners we are also really good friends. We go skimboarding at the beach in the summer. We also have a tradition where we go to see a movie before every free dance event that we compete in. We will frequently go shopping just for fun as well. Everyday on and off the ice we just have a great time and enjoy each other’s company. He is very supportive of everything I do and encourages me every step of the way.
Colin: What I like most about skating with Kate is that she helps me to give 120% whether we’re on the ice or in training. She is very dedicated and hard working. I also like the fact that she’s fearless and when I mess up on a lift, she shakes it off and has me try it again. We have a lot of fun and keep each other from being too nervous. We’re friends both on and off the ice.
What are your goals for this season?
Kate: My goals are to do well at Junior Nationals. During the off season my goals are to finish passing my Silver dance test and to pass junior and freestyle tests. Also, I would like to get more flexible. Hilary’s goal for me is to be able to do a bielman by next season.
Colin: My goals for this season are to do well at Nationals, pass my Junior moves, Novice freestyle and as many dance tests as possible. Oh and get a spread eagle! THEY DRIVE ME INSANE!
Who do you look up to most on or off the ice?
Kate: This is a hard question because there are so many great skaters but, I really look up to our coaches Justin and Hilary as well as Loren Galler-Rabinowitz and David Mitchell.
Colin: I look up to Loren Galler-Rabinowitz and David Mitchell as well as Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.
How do you spend your time off the ice?
Kate: When I am not skating or doing homework I enjoy ski racing, playing softball, skimboarding at the beach and listening to music.
Colin: I attend school full time and I’m in the 10th grade. I’m a member of the drama club, creative writers club, art club, and I love to play soccer.
What is your favorite school subject?
Kate: My favorite school subject this year is US History. Last year I enjoyed Biology and Math the best. I think a lot of it depends on the teachers.
Colin: My favorite subjects in school have to be Chemistry and Physics
What are your goals beyond skating?
Kate:Beyond skating, I would like to go to college and be successful in whatever I choose to spend my life doing.
Colin: Beyond skating, I hope to continue making the honor roll at school. I’d like to study psychology in college and also go further with my writing and art.