LITTLE BAY, NL — When an athlete follows their passion, very little can stand in the way of attaining their dreams – especially for 10-year-old Brooklyn Keefe.
She lives in Little Bay, a small community located about a half-hour drive from Springdale.
For some, that commute alone may pose an obstacle to pursuing a sporting endeavor, but not for the little girl who makes that drive daily to attend Indian River Academy.
Keefe found figure skating through the Silver Gliders Figure Skating Club in Springdale about two years ago.
She instantly fell in love.
She hones her craft on her backyard rink in Little Bay, and even reverted to YouTube in an attempt to perfect certain moves.
A shy little girl, parents Gregory and Alicia marvel at how quickly she learned to skate and advance her skills.
In the early going, Brooklyn told her mother she wanted to compete in the Olympics one day. Like many other young girls in the province and throughout the country, she looks to figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond for motivation.
“It is so fun, and I want to be like Kaetlyn Osmond,” she said.
“Kaetlyn is her idol,” her mother added.
Gregory Keefe heads to Fort McMurray every six months for work, so the family goes along with him. Although it has its challenges, it is a life they have grown accustomed to.
As her love for figure skating evolved, Brooklyn joined the Noralta Skating Club in Fort McMurray. There, under coach Lynn Barton, she was introduced to competitive skating.
When she returned to Newfoundland and Labrador this year, her advancement through this side of the sport would be stunted, since the Silver Gliders do not skate competitively.
The nearest Skate Canada club is in Grand Falls-Windsor, so the family decided to sign her up there.
They have been making the three-hour return commute three days a week ever since.
“It is something she has a huge passion for,” Alicia said. “She loves it; it keeps her out of trouble and she is having fun, so we just want her to go for it.”
Her grandparents chip in once a week to help with the travel and lessen the burden on the family.
Jo-Anne Dormody, Brooklyn’s coach with the Sparkling Blades in Grand Falls-Windsor, said she was surprised to get an application from a skater living so far away.
She said she questioned the family’s awareness of the commitment, but was assured the distance would not be an issue.
And it hasn’t, she said.
“It has not taken a feather out of her,” the coach said. “It is obviously what she wants to do. She is really enjoying it.”
As expected, her coach says Brooklyn is a dedicated and highly motivated skater. She is always excited to get on the ice and has a passion for the sport. It is obvious she wants to advance through the ranks, Dormody said.
To do that, Brooklyn had to compete for the first time. At the Snowflake Skate in Grand Falls-Windsor last weekend, she got just that opportunity. In her first competitive skate, the Star 2 performer received an overall bronze, and a gold in performance.
Dormody said she was surprised to learn Brooklyn had not skated competitively before, and said she had a good performance.
She believes the 10-year-old already has the personality and drive required to be successful.
“She just loves performing, and our sport is 90per cent performance,” she said. “You really need to love to perform to do well in our sport. That is half the battle for her, for sure.”
There was also plenty of excitement in the Keefe household following her first competitive skate. For the first time, Brooklyn skated in front of judges, and there were spectators there to see her perform.
She said her legs were “like jello,” but she was thrilled with the result.
The next challenge will be provincials in Botwood in February.
Brooklyn is hoping the experience of a competitive skate behind her will lead to even greater things next time around.
Until then, life in Little Bay will be a daily back-and-forth to school in Springdale, followed by travel to and from Grand Falls-Windsor three times a week for training.
It seems not to be a big deal, because only one thing matters.
“She is so shy in public that you would never say it is the same girl when she puts on those skates,” Alicia said.
“She is so confident, and she is so graceful.”