By Hayden Cottrell | Staff Writer
After spending her first semester abroad in England, Ainsley Peterson is starting her spring semester of college in person at Baylor. Ainsley said she has not attended an in-person class in the US since she was in 5th grade — the year she pulled out of school to start training for and eventually joining Team USA for ice skating.
The Seattle freshman began ice skating when she was 2 years old after her mom took her to a birthday party. Her mom, Megan Peterson, enrolled Ainsley in group lessons soon after.
“I took Ainsley to a birthday party that was at an ice rink when she was 2 years old,” Megan said. “She loved it, so when our friends suggested group lessons for her and one of her best friends, I said yes. It [didn’t take] more than a few weeks [for] the coaches [to start] asking to give her private lessons.”
After learning to ice skate, Ainsley moved to Colorado to be close to an Olympic training center.
“I moved from home when I was 12 years old to start training at the Olympic training center with Team USA coaches,” Ainsley said said.
According to the U.S. Figure Skating website, Team USA members and teams are “selected by the U.S. Figure Skating International Committee and/or the International Skating Union to represent the United States at ISU events.”
Ainsley had to compete and train for years to be selected to join the team. She said the best part was skating during the competition.
“My favorite part was probably the actual competition part,” Ainsley said. “Ice skating in front of people always gave me a fun rush of adrenaline that made me want to never stop.”
For Megan, she said the best part was watching Ainsley on the ice.
“I have always enjoyed watching Ainsley skate,” Megan said. “I think what I liked the most when she was competing was her emotion on the ice. She has an elegance on the ice and can portray a character in such an amazing way. It always was taken to a higher level at the actual competitions versus practice.”
Because of the level Ainsley was competing at, she had to attend school in a non-traditional way that allowed her to dedicate most of her days to training with her coaches.
“Since skating took up so much time, I had to do a special program that I could fit around my schedule, making it so I can still do both and be on a college track,” Ainsley said. “It did make it so I couldn’t go in person so I could dedicate all my time to training.”
After spending so much time competing, Ainsley decided to come to Baylor after being injured to get her undergraduate degree in political science and prepare for law school.
“I decided on Baylor because I have been skating for 17 years, and I was ready for a new, different challenge because I felt like I had spent enough time on that chapter in my life and was ready for something new,” Ainsley said. “Having to go from in-person to online school in 5th grade was a change that was needed back then, but now I feel like I want the normal college experience and to hopefully continue on to law school to become a lawyer.”
As for the future, Ainsley said she will decide if she wants to keep skating after college ends.
“I’ve decided to take a step back for a little bit due to injuries, but also to see where college takes me,” Ainsley said. “I’ve never been able to experience a normal schedule, so it’s very different, but I’m having a lot of fun. I do still make time for a little skating and coaching.”