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Taunton Teen Wins National Roller Skating Title

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(Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

TAUNTON, Mass. (AP) — She’s on a roll.

After 10 years of practice and determination, A Taunton woman earned a national roller skating title, and is now looking forward to a world championship competition in Taiwan.

Katelyn Rodgers, an 18-year-old Coyle and Cassidy graduate, recently came back from Albuquerque, N.M., with the first-place title for the Junior World Class team dance competition as part of the USA Roller Sports 2013 Figure National Championship.

“It was very emotional,” said Rodgers, who was in her 10th national artistic roller skating competition. “My partner and I were both crying after we won. It was a lot of fun.”

The fit, energetic Rodgers was back to the grind on late last month at the Silver City Sports Complex, training and practicing her moves. Sporting a colorful, sequined outfit and a neatly fashioned chin-length hairstyle, Rodgers twirled around while skating backwards throughout the rink, rehearsing one of her individual routines to the sounds of Egyptian-style orchestra music from the movie “The Mummy.”

“It’s like any sport, you have to make the commitment,” said Anthony DaPonte, Rodgers’ coach since she was 8 years old. “You have to be here on a regular basis to train your skills and do what you need to do. Katie is here five to six days a week. Doing dances, drills and other training. …They have to have complete dedication because they give up a lot.”

In addition to the team competition, Rodgers had a third-place finish as a single skater at the national competition in late July.

Rodgers, who has been skating for 12 years, said that the sport is a passion for her.

“I absolutely love it,” said Rodgers, who is attending Boston College next year to study applied psychology and human development. “All my best friends are from skating. I have friends from all across the country because of it. It’s amazing. I don’t really get nervous anymore. It’s comfortable. I know I’ve put the work in all year. I know it’s just about coming out and performing.”

Rodgers said one challenge that came with the championship in Albuquerque was the altitude, skating at a mile above sea level.

“It was actually really hard to breathe there,” she said. “That was a bit challenging. Other than that we had fun and skated well.”

With the first-place finish in the team dance competition for the World Junior Class — open to the best roller skaters under the age of 18 — Rodgers and her partner, Spencer Swetnam, are now qualified for this year’s world championship of artistic roller skating. The Roller Skating World Championship is taking place in Tapei, Taiwan, in November.

DaPonte, her coach, said that while artistic roller skating may not get as much coverage as it used to in the United States, it remains very popular on the international stage.

“Once you go overseas to Europe it’s sold out all the time,” DaPonte said. “They are like rock stars in Europe. They line up outside and want their autograph.”

DaPonte added that in the ’80s, artistic skating “was huge” around here. DaPonte said the Taunton skating rink churned out numerous world-class roller skaters, including Joey Farias, once ranked No. 4 in the world, who is now Rodgers’ hairstylist.

“During the disco boom, these rinks, you couldn’t get into (them),” he said. “It was sold out. But over in Europe right now they have so much going on. If you are a world champion there, or get a national placement, you are a superstar.”

Rodgers and Swetnam have an interesting arrangement. He is from Portland, Ore., and flew in to practice with her in Taunton for long weekends once a month during the school year. When they both graduated in the spring, he relocated here to prepare for the yearly national competition.

“We always skated solo against each other and then in 2011 our coaches thought it’d look good skating together and we tried out together at one of the competition,” Rodgers said.

She is now raising money to travel to Taiwan and compete. Rodgers said if anyone is interested in donating to the cause, they can email her at rodgerka@bc.edu.

While the national competitions don’t make Rodgers nervous, “it might be different” in Taiwan, she said.

“Maybe I’ll be a little bit nervous because it’s my first time,” Rodgers said. “We’re very excited about it. It’s going to be a learning experience. It’ll be nice to meet people from other countries. We’re going to do our best and hope for the best. We just want to skate well and have fun.”

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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