Class of 2009
By AUDREY PARENTE, STAFF WRITER
DAYTONA BEACH -- Clean spins, jumps and double axels have landed Mainland High School graduate Allanah Barbour a spot on the top-ranked U.S. Intercollegiate Figure Skating team in the Eastern Conference.
Barbour's audition earlier this year at The University of Delaware earned the Olympic hopeful a starting spot on a team that competes against 10 tough schools, including Dartmouth College, Boston University and Cornell University.
The freshman's second place win, coupled with the first place win of a teammate, Rachel Diehm, a junior, puts the school in first place.
Barbour, 19, began skating the summer before third grade at a rink in South Daytona. She earned a $7,000 Helen M. McLoraine Figure Skating Scholarship from the Pioneer Fund foundation for college -- one of 10 skaters in the country chosen to receive the financial boost.
"The University of Delaware in terms of skating is one of the top training centers in the country," said Tiffany Scott, a former U.S. Olympian, now Barbour's personal coach. "I just started working with her, and from what I see, she seems to really balance demands of being a student and training and seems to do it really well.
"She's had a lot of success already at the collegiate level," Scott said. "The university is very supportive of the skaters and understanding of the training that goes into what we want to achieve."
Barbour is thrilled at achieving this step in her list of goals, which she said two years ago as a high school junior included making it to the Olympics.
"I skated at the University of Delaware when I was younger because I needed more ice time for a nearby competition in Philadelphia, and it was like 30 minutes away," she said. She was in fourth grade and 10 years old. "It was overwhelming then, because the rinks around Florida are not like big training centers. It was crazy. There were all these high level skaters and it was scary but cool at the same time."
Years of practice, competition and training led her to acceptance at several schools, but Delaware was her dream because the school has a world-renowned training center and has turned out many Olympians.
"When I heard back from the University of Delaware, that was it," she said. "But what is unusual is getting a start on the team."
Krista Crockway, president of the team and a senior at the school, described Barbour as having "an amazing showing" and a strong skating future.
"The biggest thing, first of all, is trying to accommodate a schedule of schoolwork with a skating schedule. There's homework, studying, yet keeping up enough energy and making enough time on the ice to stay competitive," Crockway said. "For Allanah, it takes 20 minutes to make her way down to the rink. She doesn't have a car. Walking her school bag down to the rink, then getting to school -- it takes a lot of organization and planning.
"You have to mesh with taking lessons, figure out how many lessons to take -- there's a whole level of independence and maturity and there's definitely a competition among the whole team," Crockway said. "I think she is incredibly talented and dedicated, and the maturity she displays, her humbleness, and I admire her completely coming so far from home."
Barbour considers herself a Florida girl and finds Delaware cold, but laughs at teasing.
"People all around me call me 'Florida' because I don't know things -- like about why they put rock salt (on roads to melt snow) and that I was suppose to waterproof my Ugg boots," Barbour said. "It makes me laugh and it's fun. I have a winter coat and gloves and have collected some scarves."
She said the cold won't get in her way and she still has warm support from her single mom, Kay Barbour, a hospice nurse who operates on a very tight budget, and a former high school friend Maggie McCall.
"We talk and call each other all the time," said McCall, a University of Florida freshman. "We understand each other and how we feel, being away from home. At one point I was really homesick and she sent me a cute little letter with pictures from high school and stuff.
"I think it's awesome that she is sticking with it, something not a lot of people can handle," said McCall. "I think she's really determined and will be able to make it to the Olympics. She's not going to give up."
Barbour said that support helps her keep pushing for goals that haven't changed since high school and she is willing to do whatever it takes to progress.
"Some people choose the easy way out, but I have always been really ambitious. A lot of people didn't think I could do it," she said. "I did good -- landed everything, didn't fall, did all my spins and everything I needed to do. I did a clean skate. Our next competition for the university is in February. I will get a little riskier as I go on, but I just want to do good."
Â© 2010 The Daytona Beach News-Journal.
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