By SCOTT COTTOS
Figure skating has had a positive impact on the lives of Morgan Naugle and Sophie Pahl.
Now the Fostoria sisters are putting their love of the sport toward helping others.
Naugle and Pahl this past weekend began practicing for their participation in Skate for Hope, a program to raise funds to combat breast cancer and raise awareness of the disease.
The 11th edition of Skate for Hope’s annual show, featuring performances by skaters who have sought sponsorships as well as elite, internationally known stars, is scheduled for 5 p.m. May 3 at the Bowling Green State University Ice Arena.
Naugle, Sophie Pahl and their mother, Shelly Pahl, have been active in Findlay’s Silver Blades Figure Skating Club for many years. While a student at Ohio University two years ago, Naugle was moved while watching a cousin perform in Skate for Hope at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The Pahls were similarly affected when they joined Naugle for the show, which includes a tribute to breast cancer survivors, in Columbus last year.
When they heard that this year’s show would be in Bowling Green, they wanted to be in the cast, which includes skaters of at least Level 3 in U.S. Figure Skating.
“People in my family have had cancer,” Sophie Pahl, a freshman at St. Wendelin Catholic School, said. “Some have beaten it. I watched the show last year and it really got to me. I was like, ‘I really want to do this.’ It’s just the whole thing: I get to do something I love and at the same time help others. It’s a super-positive thing to do.”
Naugle graduated from Ohio University in December and she has been the lead preschool teacher at the Geary Family YMCA’s Y Wonderland for the last month. Having been in Silver Blades from age 6 through her senior year at Findlay High School and then being a member of OU’s synchronized skating team for three years, she was happy to join other Silver Blades alumni as Skate for Hope cast members this year with the practices and show taking place nearby.
“When it came up this year, I’m in the area, I’m near ice, I can practice — I can do this,” she said.
“Most of us in my group are former Silver Blades members and it’s fun to come back and get together to do something for such a great cause, doing something that we like — something that we enjoyed so much that we still want it in our lives.”
Naugle gravitated toward skating at an early age with her late father, Donnie Naugle, having been a hockey player and two aunts having been figure skaters. Sophie started even earlier, at age 4.
“I wanted to be exactly like my sister in every way possible,” she said.
Naugle performed in 12 editions of Silver Blades’ annual “Ice Classics” show, and Sophie could exceed that number. With this year’s “Ice Classics” slated for Friday through Sunday at the Cube in Findlay, Sophie has been in the midst of preparations during what the members call “Hell Week.”
“You’re at the rink until, like, 8 or 9 at night and you’re like, ‘Oh, I’ve still got to do homework,'” Sophie said. “And you’ve got to take a shower and you go to bed at midnight, and you’re so tired. But it all comes together in the end, so we’re good.”
Shelly Pahl is Silver Blades’ longest-tenured parent with 16 years under her belt, and she likes what skating has brought to her offspring.
“It teaches your children commitment and that nothing comes easy — you have to work for it,” she said. “You can’t not go to practice and expect to get an axel (jump). You have to work on it and commit yourself to working on it, then it comes.”
Sponsorships of Sophie Pahl and Naugle can be made online at http://www.skateforhope.org/goto/MorganandSophie. Checks payable to Skate for Hope can be sent to Shelly Pahl, 703 N. Union St., Fostoria, OH 44830.
Tickets to Skate for Hope are available at the BGSU Ice Arena box office and at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are $11 each.
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