Before entering Stony Brook University, Sara Scheibert ’22 could usually be found at the place she calls home – the ice, where she skated for hours daily. But the Stony Brook University freshman has decided to put her Olympic figure skating career on pause in order to pursue her education, and help others to achieve their dreams.
Originally from La Plata, Maryland, Scheibert started skating when she was eight years old.
“When I was 11, I started to truly love figure skating and it didn’t take me long to figure out I was pretty good at it,” she said. Her favorite part of figure skating has always been the big jumps, which made her feel like she was flying.“The higher I got, the more incentivized I was to get better and better,” she said.
Due to her dedication to the sport, it was difficult for the national champion and gold medalist to attend a traditional high school, so Scheibert got her education an online college preparatory school called George Washington University Online High School. The program was rigorous, with strict deadlines, a heavy course load and high expectations.
“I didn’t feel like I missed out on much, because when you’re at a certain level of skating, you’re with people who are so dedicated, so it was like a family,” she said. “It was an amazing experience,” she said.
After moving to South Florida to be closer to top coaches, competitions and training facilities, she would spend six days a week working out at the Florida Panthers’ IceDen skating and ice hockey facility in Coral Springs. She explained that her parents were supportive in the whole process, taking turns to live with her in Florida while they both continued to work in Washington D.C.
“My parents bent over backwards 57 times for me to continue what was my career at the time,” she said.
After graduating from her online high school, Sara made the tough decision of choosing to retire in order to attend Stony Brook University. “It was a very big deal for me because skating is all I’ve ever known,” she said.
Regarding her decision to put college first, David Kahn, Professor for the Institute for STEM Education (I-STEM) at Stony Brook said, “I think that Sara’s decision is her own to make, but I understand her choice. Preparing for the Olympics is stressful, expensive, and time consuming.”
She chose SBU due to its proximity to her family’s home, but also because there were so many new things for her to experience on campus. In her first year at Stony Brook, she’s completed the Green Dot, Red Watch Band and QPR for Suicide Prevention programs. She’s also worked with the English Pal program, performed with the Ice Girls, and volunteered at the campus food pantry.
“I’ve found myself doing new things that I wouldn’t have done if I was still skating,” she said. “Getting so involved in the community feels like I can make a difference in the community or in someone’s life.”
At Stony Brook, she’s using her love of skating to fuel her journey to become a doctor. It’s a profession she holds a strong affinity to, due to the huge impact that doctors have had on her life as a figure skater.
“Something always hurt,” she said. “If I got sick, it was really important for me to get better so I could go back to doing what I love doing. I want to help give people the ability to go back to what they’re doing, like [doctors] did for me.”
She still loves to skate when she can, as it’s a huge part of her life and a huge part of her future. “Even if it’s just getting on the ice for an hour a week, I would still want to figure skate any time I could,” she said.
— Maya Brown