It's an oppressively hot summer morning, but members of the Red Rose Figure Skating Club savor the relief they find in the frosty confines of Lancaster Ice Rink. Skaters of varying ages glide, twirl, fall, spin and leap across the ice as the overhead speakers bounce everything from Coldplay to classical music off the walls of the oasis.
The playlist cuts to Andra Day's "Rise Up," and the rest of the skaters yield to Courtney Meyers, a Hempfield rising senior. Meyers absorbs the music, which she picked herself for competition, and works on different aspects of her competitive program.
It's another day for Meyers, who has skated since she was 3 years old. She's skated in competitions across the region and, in June, participated in the Excel National Festival in Coral Springs, Florida.
"My parents both play ice hockey," Meyers said after the practice. "They wanted me to try it. They wanted me to be their hockey player. Instead, I chose figure skating."
On the ice since age 3 or 4, Meyers has turned an interest in figure skating into her passion, developing routines that include waking up early on school days to to take advantage of available ice time.
The early morning sessions paid off for Meyers in various competitions.
"When you compete," she said, "I think it's easier to just have fun and just go in and do it. In practice, it's a little harder because you're trying to get everything perfect."
Coaches Ursula Wolfer-Horowitz and Craig Horowitz have helped Meyers hone her skills, and the other Red Rose members – boys and girls of various ages – have fostered bonds that extend beyond their time on the ice.
“We’re like a big family,” Meyers said.
With "Rise Up" as an anthem and a backdrop, Meyers has tweaked her routine, working on aspects that play to her strengths as a skater.
"Last season, I think she chose a 'Less is More' approach" Wolfer-Horowitz said. "She didn't do everything (in her routine) that she could do, just because we wanted to go with better quality. But even since last year, I think she's improved drastically, so now she'll push harder, technical elements for next season."
Meyers, who considers jumps to be one of her strengths, plans to incorporate double axels and spins into her routine.
In its inaugural season, the Excel National Series aimed, according to its handbook, "To inspire more of our young athletes to continue training and remain committed to participating in figure skating by providing them with events at a level that allows them to showcase their strengths." Tailored to keep athletes below the Olympic level involved with figure skating, the series offered athletes the chance to compete with their peers on a national level.
Meyers qualified for the national competition after competing in the March 31 Morris Open in Morristown, New Jersey, and the April 6 Cardinal Classic in Fairfax, Virginia. More than 700 skaters competed in the series, which culminated with the national competition for qualifiers.
"It was really cool," Meyers said. "It was very exciting. It wasn't overwhelming, but there was just a lot of people. It was good to experience seeing people that good."
Meyers participated in camp before the competition, which featured ballet exercises and on-ice lessons with Team USA members. She finished 13th in the Excel Junior Ladies division of the national competition.
“It’s obvious which family is on," said Carrie Meyers, Courtney's mother, "because that person’s family is standing and videotaping. I had a dad (during Courtney's routine) turn around and say, ‘It was so emotional. It was great. However she does, tell her that I was a huge fan. It was inspiring.’”