Dancing on ice

August 1, 2017

Dakota Rogers-Myers, a Weehawken High School Class of 2017 graduate, has a unique career goal: to become a figure-skating coach.

She couldn’t be more qualified. As a figure skating prodigy who, at 14, was the youngest in the history of the The Skating Club of New York to win a gold medal in the “Senior Moves in the Field” event, she will attend Montclair State University in the fall with plans to major in sports psychology.

As part of a scholarship deal with the university, she will coach young figure skaters at Floyd Hall Arena there. She has already begun her coaching this summer by teaching young figure skaters at Chelsea Piers Sky Rink in New York.

In her sophomore year, Rogers-Myers left The Professional Children’s School in New York City, which accommodates children pursuing goals in the performing arts and competitive sports that require time away from the classroom, to attend Weehawken High School. She says an important difference between the two schools was the relationship between students, and between members of the community.

“At Weehawken High School, students are much closer with each other than students tended be at my school in New York,” Rogers-Myers said. “And it’s not just the Weehawken High School where people are close with each other: it’s the whole town.”

Rogers-Myers chose Weehawken High School because, she said, it excelled in its programs for students who need special education accommodations. Weehawken High School also accommodated her skating schedule without sacrificing her academic progress.

She said Robert Furillo, assistant principal of Weehawken High School, and Roger-Myers’s guidance counsellor, Jenna Wendolowski, “created a schedule for me to adjust to my skating schedule. For one thing, they determined that I did not need to take a gym class, which made it possible for me to take my first class at 9 a.m.”

They also permitted her eat breakfast in class. to the delight of her fellow-students, with whom she shared her power breakfast of pancakes, potatoes, and steak.

Rogers-Myers has a terrific work ethic, says Furillo, noting that after skating in New York City every school day from 5:30 to 7 a.m., she would catch a ferry to Weehawken Harbor and walk up the many steps of the Palisades cliffs to school. “She’s a wonderful young lady; very hard-working,” he said.

A lifetime on skates

Rogers-Myers, who started skating at age 5, has entered figure-skating competitions all over the country. At age 15, she mastered the difficult triple Salchow, a jump from the backward inside edge of one skate to the backward outside edge of the other, with three full turns in the air.

At age 17, she won a gold medal in The Skating Club of New York’s “Senior Free Skate,” which tests figure skaters on 16 different ice moves, including figure-eights. A future as an Olympic skater looked like it was on the horizon.

But her Olympic aspirations were dashed when Rogers-Myers was 15, after a series of hard slams on the ice left her with three bruised vertebrae.

“I can’t do as much jumping or spinning, or even stay on the ice as much as I used to,” she said. As a result, the young skater has shifted much of her training this past year to ice-dancing. In addition to being less stressful on her spine, excelling at ice-dancing would make her more sought-after as a coach.

“I want to get a third gold medal for ice dancing,” she said. “That would make me a three-time gold medalist for ice dancing, movie in the field, and freestyle.”

Rogers-Myers impressed her Weehawken High School guidance counselor, Jenna Wendolowski.

“Dakota had such a unique situation,” she said. “She made the time to be a student athlete. She was able to do something she loved, as well as maintaining good grades throughout her high school career.”

And, added Wendolowski, Rogers-Myers handled her strenuous schedule like a trooper. “Dakota was a breath of fresh air: she was always smiling and never complained about being tired.”

Rogers-Myers is glad she made the switch from The Professional Children’s School in New York. “Weehawken High School has also made me tougher,” she said. “All my fellow students have taught to go for what you want and not for what other people want for you.”

Learn more about Chelsea Piers Figure Skating Programs: CONNECTICUT NEW YORK