Sophomore capitalizes on athletic lifestyle

Photo courtesy of the Barstys family.

Photo courtesy of the Barstys family.

A shiny blade shoots across the ice leaving a lasting mark, followed by a spiral spin and then a jump. This is a daily routine for sophomore Natalie Barstys, who has been figure skating since she was six years old, and her passion for the sport has afforded her many opportunities through her efforts.

Barstys is on the Grosse Pointe Unified Figure Skating team and girls varsity hockey team. Because of her devotion to the sport, she began teaching little kids how to skate two years ago. She hopes to pursue teaching children in the future, however, Barstys doesn’t see herself skating competitively in college.

“(When) I started ice skating my parents would always take me down to Ligget,” she said. “They always have an open skate on Sunday and I would always go with them.”

Because of having to skate in both the morning and afternoon, she has bolstered her time management skills.

“It’s definitely taught me a lot about time management,” she said. “I skated before school … and now with hockey every day (I) definitely need to learn time management.”

Photo provided by Barstys family.
Photo provided by the Barstys family.

Kim Barstys, Natalie’s mom, believes her growth in skating symbiotically brings both recognition and a higher caliber of competition. However, she finds that Natalie’s hard work puts her at par with fellow competitors.

“To be successful at skating, (it) requires a lot of hard work and dedication which translate into a major time commitment. Early mornings often before school in cold ice rinks are the norm. In order to play two winter sports and keep up with school work requires discipline, organization and time management skills. All of which will be valuable in college and her career,” Kim said via email. “Natalie has developed a driven personality to work hard to continue succeeding in the sport. At the age of six, Natalie began pushing a cone on the ice and today is a gold medal figure skater.”

Natalie first discovered ice skating when she saw how much her younger brother enjoyed the activity. She decided to give figure skating a try after her brother’s positive experience, and quickly fell in love with the sport and would later try out one of similar fundamentals. Natalie started playing hockey in spring of 2013 following one of her brother’s hockey tournaments and numerous games of mini sticks.

Kim has seen a growth in Natalie’s morale and determination after she began skating. She finds that her achievements in figure skating have given her the courage to start hockey.

“Skating has been instrumental in developing Natalie’s confidence and sense of self-esteem,” Kim said. “Her success at figure skating gave Natalie the confidence to try ice hockey which has become a challenge that Natalie has gladly welcomed.”

Teaching little kids has taught her new skills, and provided her with the experience of coaching. Natalie’s coach, Cheryl Moscato, believes skating and teaching will affect her future in a positive way.

Photo by Sydney Benson.
Photo by Sydney Benson.

“I think figure skating has enhanced Natalie’s life and that enhancement will prove to be fruitful in her future. I think that teaching will enable her to gain perspective on being on the other side if you will,” Moscato said via email. “Teaching someone makes you realize how different each person truly is and how you must adapt the way you teach to reach each individual.”

Natalie believes teaching children is something everyone should do because she has cultivated knowledge from them. She has had to set an example for younger athletes  throughout her teaching career in order to pave a moral path for them.

“I think it’s made me think about being a better person. These are who the little kids look up to. You don’t want them to turn into someone who’s just off the road so you’re definitely setting an example,” she said. “They teach a lot because if you see a little kid being totally disrespectful you’re going to be like, ‘hey little kid don’t do that.’ And then you think what if I do that, it’s not OK for me to do it so I have to set an example. So, it definitely spreads moral value.”