by Anne Calder | Photos courtesy of Alexandra Zaretsky
The second “Skating Mom” in our series is Alexandra “Sasha” Zaretsky, an Israeli ice dancer, coach and single mom to “two rambunctious and fun-loving boys”.
Sasha Zaretsky and her brother Roman were three-time Israeli National Champions, five-time World and two-time Olympic competitors. Her parents, both coaches, emigrated with the family from Belarus to Israel when Zaretsky was three years old. She speaks fluent Hebrew, Russian and English.
The siblings moved to the US alone in 2001 to train in Delaware and competed internationally on the junior and senior levels before retiring in 2010.
After completing their competitive careers, Sasha and her brother performed in several professional ice shows, including the nationally televised “Shall We Dance on Ice” and various international ice shows.
“I then relocated to Houston, Texas where Roman and I team-coached for several years,” Zaretsky explained. “I was a freestyle skater and rhythmic gymnast prior to focusing on ice dancing, so I also enjoyed coaching freestyle and stretching/flexibility lessons.”
In 2013, Zaretsky got married and relocated to her husband’s home state of Indiana. The closest rink was over an hour away, so, unfortunately, she was unable to coach during that time. Her two sons, Dennis (5) and Adam (3) were born in the Hoosier state. In 2017, she relocated to her current home in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I am now a single mother, and I also coach,” disclosed the retired ice dancer.
Zaretsky admits she faces several challenges raising two boys alone and coaching.
“I think most single mothers will tell you time constraints and fatigue are the biggest challenges,” Zaretsky noted. “It’s difficult to balance the boys’ school and activity schedules around my work schedule. I don’t have any family nearby, so everything is 100% my responsibility. However, I get double the love and snuggles from my boys, so I can’t complain!”
Going back to coaching was scary at first. She worried about her boys – and still does. Thankfully, she found people who love them like their own, which gives her peace of mind while she’s working.
When asked if she felt guilty for needing to be away from her children, she responded, “Absolutely, but many parents feel guilty at times. We want to be perfect, but I just try to do the best for my children in all aspects of their lives.”
While it’s sometimes difficult to have family time with the boys, she tries to schedule mini trips to the beach or mountains for all of them to connect with each other.
Zaretsky thinks being a mom has actually helped her coaching.
“It’s taught me patience, especially with the younger kids,” Zaretsky shared. “I have a better understanding of how to make skating enjoyable for the little ones. I’ve also found new ways to communicate with older kids and students of all ages.”
Zaretsky offered a bit of advice to women who want to be Skating Moms and also have a family.
“Be kind and understanding to yourself. Being a mother is the most challenging but most rewarding thing I’ve ever done – even more challenging than two Olympics! None of us are perfect – we make mistakes. Just strive to do the best for your kids, while also being realistic.”
Zaretsky recently had an opportunity to dust off her ice dancing skills as a “Mom Who Skates” when she performed in the Pineville Ice House Show with Chris Reed, ten-time Japanese ice dance champion and friend for 12 years.
“It was so much fun to skate with Chris,” she smiled. “After two kids and nine years without training, I was definitely nervous. It was my first time skating with anyone but Roman. Chris and I put together a program a few days earlier. I was very appreciative he performed with me in the show!”
“The skating world is vast but small (if that makes sense) and skating friends last for life,” Zaretsky said. “I want my boys to be exposed to the amazing lessons that high-level training and skating teaches you. I would love for them to develop friendships through the international community. Chris is a perfect example of one of the lifelong friendships that I gained through skating.”
Sasha Zaretsky is learning how to blend a coaching career with being Dennis and Adam’s single skating mom. She faces daily challenges, but is on the road to being successful in both endeavors.