When Alyssa Dunn first laced up a pair of figure skates at age 5, she couldn’t have imagined that she’d become a two-time member of Team USA and travel around the globe.
“I started when I was in kindergarten, and that first session they had an ice show, and I was hooked,” said Alyssa, 14, a freshman at Neuqua Valley High School. “I was begging my mom and dad to take me to the rink every chance I could.”
Since then she has skated in several disciplines, including singles, ice dancing and synchronized skating, and is a member of the Chicago Jazz synchronized skating team out of Rolling Meadows.
“I played other sports and did other activities, but I always wanted to get them over so I could get to the rink,” Alyssa said. “I would say about midway through elementary school, I was at the rink every moment I could be. The more I competed, the more I wanted to skate.”
Her mom, Keri Dunn, agreed.
“We saw her fall in love with the sport from day one,” Keri Dunn said. “When she was a toddler, she used to stand on pieces of paper and skate around the carpet. Who would have known a few years later she couldn’t wait to lace up her skates and get on the ice?”
In addition to competing around the country, Dunn skated at the Berlin Cup in Berlin, Germany, as a Team USA athlete in 2015. This year, she traveled to Italy and Switzerland to compete, all the while juggling school and being a teenager.
“I study in the car a lot as I travel to many rinks to train, and because I am an international athlete, my school has been very supportive of my schedule,” Alyssa said. “I do have terrific friends that I would love to spend more time with, but I’m lucky they still include me when they can. I also love the skaters that I skate with every day.”
Keri Dunn said it’s “an absolute pleasure to watch Alyssa follow her passion,” and “her dedication, sacrifices and work ethic make us proud. It doesn’t matter what the day before brought her, or how difficult it was, she rises ready to take on a new day of training.”
Alyssa is auditioning for a spot on Team USA for the 2017 season, which won’t be announced until the fall. She trains about 30 to 40 hours per week for her individual season, which begins in June.
“I love to compete,” Alyssa said. “It’s an opportunity to show what I have been training and preparing to show. I have learned to focus on improving my own skills, and I have a great deal of respect for the coaches that work with me every day to help me reach my goals.”
Jane Donahue is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.