By Jennifer Schlee
Sometimes unfortunate situations work out for the best. It has for Mary Beth Moellenkamp and the Ryerson varsity figure skating team.
Moellenkamp, a third-year social work student and two-year member of the Ryerson skating team, will not be competing as a Ram this year. Instead, she will be striving for gold as the assistant coach.
Chronic skating injuries in her knees and right shoulder have caused Moellenkamp, 22, to give up competitive skating for good.
“It was a hard decision,” Moellenkamp said. “It came down to ‘Do I really want to be in physio five days a week?’”
At the 1997 Ontario finals, Moellenkamp skated through her three-minute solo with a dislocated shoulder. Last year she had surgery to tighten her shoulder ligaments, but it’s still weak. As well, Moellenkamp’s knees, especially her right one (the leg she lands her jumps on) are weak from overuse.
“The doctor told me it wasn’t a good idea to jump anymore,” Moellenkamp said. “I decided I had too many injuries to make it [skating] worth it. I would do more damage than it’s worth.”
Certified to coach since she was 16, Moellenkamp was eager to fill the much-needed job of assistant coach on the team. With 17 members this year, it would be difficult for head coach Jennifer Chapman to train the team alone.
In order to coach, Moellenkamp had to give up her amateur status as an athlete and become professional. Canadian Figure Skating Association rules say she can’t compete in any amateur competitions.
Moellenkamp also coaches for Mississauga parks and recreation and at the Arc Skating Academy in Mississauga.
“I love to coach but I know I’m going to miss skating — I’ve done it my whole life,” she said.