We love featuring our PALCS families and all of their accomplishments! This time last year, we featured the Leiphart family, who are now in their third year at PALCS for their children Reese, Raegan, and Rhett. You can read their Family Spotlight from last year here.
Raegan, middle child of the Leiphart family, has been ice skating for about eight years. This past month, she participated in the State Games of America, which was held in Lynchburg, VA. The State Games of America is held in different cities across the US showcasing about two dozen sports bi-annually. In order to qualify, thousands of athletes across the continent, must place in the top three of a qualifying event to participate.
Raegan won first place in her competition, receiving a gold medal from the State Games of America.
“I was really shocked that I won because I thought I wouldn’t place at all. I made a mistake in my program and there were so many skaters in my event. My friend was waiting for the results to come out and when he saw the score sheet, he looked at me and was trying not to smile, but I could tell something great happened by the look on his face. When I saw my name at the top of the list, I just turned around and ran to my mom to hug her!” Raegan recalls.
“They lit the torch, just like in the Olympics, and all the flags from every state were paraded out with athletes from that state behind it. The gold medal I won is the heaviest medal I have! It was exciting to win, but also great that my friends were there to watch me and I watched them win their events too.”
Stacie Leiphart, mother of Raegan, recalls the moment her daughter won gold as well: “Raegan’s performance at The State Games was the first time I cried watching her skate. She looked beautiful and graceful out there. I was so proud to be her mom. I didn’t care if she won or not, I knew she performed her very best.”
It takes some serious training to reach this achievement.
Raegan has trained and worked hard for 3-4 hours a day, to achieve this big accomplishment. She works with her off-ice trainer, ice dance coach and a freestyle coach to master jumps, spins, & power moves in the field.
Stacie says that having a set schedule really helps Raegan succeed on & off the ice. “We have a pretty tight schedule for ice time, off ice practice, school work, live classes, and free time,” Stacie explains. “We live an hour away from her rink, so we must plan carefully. Ideally, Raegan participates in her live lessons from home, but if the schedule doesn’t work out that way, we will find a quiet area at the rink to have her attend class. She can also travel to competitions and performances and not have to worry about missing classes. PALCS works for her this way, in that the assignments aren’t due within hours being posted. The extra time allows for students to ask questions and try again, to support absorption of the material.”
Being a student here at PALCS has really benefited Raegan during this time of intense competitive skating. With her tight schedule on & off the ice, the flexibility PALCS offers gives her a little more room to breathe. “I like that I can travel and be at the rink, and still attend classes and contact my teachers if I need to,” Raegan comments.
Athletic and academic milestones.
Stacie commented on the immense progress she has seen in her daughter this past year, meeting many athletic & academic milestones, surpassing all expectations. “Along with Raegan’s determination and focus, I credit her coach, Kate Blanchette for the drastic improvement, and PALCS’s flexibility in education. Kate’s wealth of knowledge, combined with a nurturing, happy personality lends itself well to athletes who could burn themselves out with frustration. PALCS has also allowed Raegan to excel in both skating and education. She is in advanced classes and has been inducted in to The National Honor Society.”
Stacie appreciates the PALCS philosophy, commenting on how online education creates a more organic experience that moves with the students & their needs. “Our family has a bit of a unique background, in that some of our kids have special needs. Before I knew about PALCS, my husband and I had lost hope and trust in schools that they would do right by our kids. PALCS not only gave us back our trust in education, they have given us hope that our children will ALL be successful independent adults one day.”
Outside of skating & dreaming of being an Olympian someday, Raegan aspires to be an engineer for NASA. She spends her free time volunteering at the Shady Hollow Assisted Riding Program with her brother, Reese. Shady Hallow, located in Birdsboro, PA, seeks to provide a supportive equine environment where individuals with physical, cognitive and/or emotional challenges can experience therapeutic, social and educational rewards.
Her younger brother, Rhett, has expressed interested in skating now, and has been offered a position on the first level line on the synchronized skating team, Iceliners. He is so excited to be skating with his sister and get a jacket like hers!
When asked what advice Raegan has for other students who might be in a similar place as her, she said: “Focus on your goal and know that every time you go out to perform, make it be the best performance you can, that way even if you don’t place, you can still feel proud. Practicing is really important, too. Some of my friends are at a higher level that I am and I watch them just repeat the same thing over and over again until they get better at it. They have shown me what it means to practice the right way.”
Stacie knows that Raegan is truly doing what she loves. “Raegan is such a shy person off the ice, but when she is skating, she’s a whole other person. It’s as if she is more comfortable skating than anywhere else.”
Congratulations to Raegan Leiphart, on winning her Gold Medal at the State Games of America! We are proud & honored to have you as a student!
To learn more about how PALCS could help your active family visit our FAQ page.