Nightline reports that this year’s U.S. team at the Winter Olympics was its most diverse at 92 percent white. Figure Skating in Harlem is hoping to change those numbers by empowering more black and Latina young women to take on the figure skating world.
But first, the girls focus on enjoying their time in the rink. For Ila Epperson, figure skating became a place for her to find an identity.
“This is what I want to do and this is what I have to do to get there,” she passionately told the camera.
The Figure Skating in Harlem group, which also has a sister chapter in Detroit, accepts girls ages 6 to 17 who live in Harlem, Upper Manhattan or the South Bronx. They compete as a group in different age divisions.
One of the organizers says its important to her that the young women also dream of goals outside of the rink. The group can be seen studying before their skating practice, and their website proudly boasts that 84 percent of their skaters have a B average or higher in school. If they fall to a C, they must take tutoring before getting back on the ice.
A full 100 percent of their students want to go to college, according to Figure Skating in Harlem.