By Bill Petzold | The Bay City Times
May 06, 2010, 8:22AM
Let us just say here, before you read the rest of the article, CONGRATULATIONS to both Rachel and Morgan! They have both worked very hard for this, and it is always great to see hard work rewarded.
Morgan is also a Rocker Fund skater, and you can read more about her and donation info here:http://therockerfund.org/image-viewer.htm?gallery/Fgallery3-2.jpg
.Bay City speedskaters Rachel Skrocki and Morgan Izykowski are now members of the U.S. national team
Bay City speed skating is once again represented on the United States national speed skating team.
Cousins Morgan Izykowski and Rachel Skrocki found out Monday that they’ve officially been invited to train at US Speedskating’s facilities near Salt Lake City.
Being selected for the national team is both an honor and a challenge. National team members receive the best training and facilities available, but the stakes are also higher.
“You’re in the door, and now there’s no more pretending anymore,” Morgan’s father Al Izykowski said. “You’re going to be expected to perform and progress. This is what everyone aims for; this is where you want to be. You’re going to get the best coaching and the best opportunity to develop your abilities to the fullest. It’s really an honor to have the chance to do it.
“There’s a little danger in it because you come from your home club and at this level the intensity and volume of training is so much higher.”
Morgan Izykowski moved out to Salt Lake City at age 17 to stay with her brother Alex, a bronze medalist for the U.S. team at Turin, Italy in 2006. While completing high school through the mail, Morgan began training with a developmental program at the same facilities used by the national team. That training paid off as Izykowski recovered from a bad fall and pulled hamstring at the Olympic trials last year to make one of the U.S.’s strongest performances at the Junior World Championships in Chinese Taipei.
For Izykowski, the main difference now that she’s made the national team will be more ice time and different coaches. Now 19, she knows the routine in Salt Lake City. Izykowski said the national team hits the ice at 9 a.m. each morning, training six to seven hours a day, six days a week.
“It’s what I’ve been working for,” Morgan Izykowski said. “It’s just the next step towards my ultimate goal. It will be a lot harder and more intense and I’ll be training with different people with the national team.”
For Rachel Skrocki, the invitation also includes the bittersweet condition of having to leave her family behind in Bay City while she pursues her speed skating goals in Salt Lake City.
“It wasn’t too bad for me because my brother had already lived here,” Morgan Izykowski said. “I definitely missed being away from family. I think that’s going to be a tough transition. We’re second cousins, so … we’ll always be there for each other.”
Skrocki said the excitement outweighs the nervousness.
read the rest here:
“It’s definitely a dream come true, it was a big surprise,” Skrocki said. “It definitely feels like all the work pays off. I’m excited to just start training and just get in really good shape and make friends with the skaters out there.”
Skrocki lived in California for a month to train before. But if all goes well, she could be in Salt Lake City for four years.
“You’re selected to the national team with a four-year project in mind,” local speed skating coach Joe Rohraff said. Rohraff trained with the national team for seven years in the 1990s and is currently the head coach of the junior national team.
“The results aren’t going to be so important (the first year). They look at things in a four-year type manner. That even makes the invite a little more sweet knowing that of all the people out there you earned a spot on the team because it truly defines Olympic hopeful. It’s a long ways away, but it starts now. For these guys it started a long time ago; it’s one step closer to the Olympic team.
“Every level that you go through it takes more and more dedication, time and effort. The level that they’re at now is about as high as you can go. I don’t think either one of them know what it’s really going to take. It’s something that they’ve been preparing for so I don’t think it’s going to be a surprise. The training is harder, the expectations are higher. I think they’ll do well, but it’s certainly going to be a challenge for them.”
Skrocki will be in good company when she arrives in Salt Lake City, where she will be rooming with Olympian speed skater Katherine Reutter. Reutter won a silver medal in the 1,000 meters and helped the U.S. take bronze in the 3,000-meter relay in Vancouver.
“I couldn’t ask for a better roommate for her than Katherine Reutter,” Rachel’s mother, Christine Skrocki said. “She will be a big inspiration to Rachel. She asked Rachel to be her roommate last year in hopes Rachel would come to Utah. I’ve been watching Katherine skate since she was 15 because she always reminded me of Rachel and that inspired me to have many conversations with Beth, her mom.
“We would sit together at the meets and talk about how hard it will be to let our girls go further into the sport knowing they would leave at a young age to train. Katherine is an only child and left home at 16. Her mom contacted me last night via e-mail and said ‘I’ve been there done that as a mom – feel free to cry on my shoulder if you need to.’”
Skrocki is busy packing her bags this week. The family will host a small going-away party on Friday. On Sunday, Skrocki will attend a baptism ceremony where she will become a godmother for her cousin. Then she and her father Jerry Skrocki will get in the van and drive 26 hours straight through to Salt Lake City.
“I’m going to miss her a lot,” Jerry Skrocki said. “She’s older, but it’s going to be sad to have her gone. Last time she went to California it took a couple weeks to get used to her not being around.”
Rachel Skrocki said she will also miss her current roommate, her dog Timber, as well as the family, coaches and skating partners at the Midland and Bay County speed skating clubs who have helped her prepare for this moment.
“I’m way more excited than nervous,” she said. “I’m ready to go. I’ve been training at home my whole career except for that California summer.
“I don’t feel pressure at all. I’m pretty good at listening and doing what they say at least with my coach back here. I’m just excited to have them whip me into shape and have them make me a really good speed skater.”