At 8:30 on a Wednesday morning, Elissa Kempisty ’23 takes a break from practice at the ice rink. She is surrounded by her fellow skaters on the Haydenettes, a synchronized skating team, while a Zamboni takes a lazy stroll about the ice. The air is cold, the rink mostly empty.
Kempisty already has been here at the Boston Skating Club, a huge training and performance facility in Norwood, Massachusetts, for two hours. She and her teammates will soon resume practicing, so Kempisty is preparing herself for the next session. “I have a specific routine I do,” she says. “I always have to eat something, and I take my skates off, let my feet relax a little bit.”
In about 10 minutes, the skaters are back on the ice. Sweeping, operatic music begins to play, and the skaters glide, turn, and spin. After about 20 seconds, however, the music comes to a halt, and the team’s coach, sitting by herself in the stands and wearing a scarf, offers instruction.
Soon enough, the music starts back up, but again after about 20 seconds, it stops once more. This happens over and over, the coach cutting the music to talk to the skaters. She offers specific instructions, about the position of arms, about the crispness of movements, about the tempo of their routine, about the need to skate with heart and emotion.
This goes on until almost 10 a.m., at which point the skaters file off the ice and adjourn to a dance studio to do further work on their movements. So goes a typical Wednesday for Kempisty. “You have to focus a lot on the details,” she says.
Kempisty, who learned to skate at the age of 6, loves the freeness of being on the ice. That passion eventually led her to join the Haydenettes, a prestigious team that competes in national and international competitions. To skate with the Haydenettes is to create routines filled with beauty and grace. “It’s like dancing on skates,” Kempisty says. “It is being able to move your body in an artistic way that tells a story. This feeling you’re creating on the ice is very powerful.”
Her practices and travel with the Haydenettes, however, take a lot of time, and time can be a tricky thing to balance as a busy Babson College student.
With skating such a big part of her life, Kempisty has become a master of juggling responsibilities. During a typical week, she spends about 20 hours at the rink, but she also has many other activities that require her time: classes, projects, a business fraternity, an on-campus internship, a part-time job, and a side hustle. Like any typical college student, she also makes sure to save time for friends and get-togethers.
“It’s tough finding a balance between everything,” Kempisty says. “When I tell people about all of my commitments, they don’t understand how I fit everything in.”
“It’s like dancing on skates. It is being able to move your body in an artistic way that tells a story. This feeling you’re creating on the ice is very powerful.”
Elissa Kempisty ’23
Fitting everything in means starting the day early. On that Wednesday morning of the Haydenettes practice, her alarm goes off at 5 a.m. After eating a hearty oatmeal breakfast, she is out the door of her Pietz Hall residence and arriving at the Boston Skating Club in Norwood by 6:30. She then warms up and gets ready for the start of the 7 a.m. practice. She is joined by fellow Babson student Laura Nicula ’24, also a Haydenettes member. (Another Babson student, Julianna Calvello ’23, is a member of a sister team of the Haydenettes, the Hayden Select.)
Three hours later, Kempisty is still at the Boston Skating Club, the team moving from the rink to a dance studio, where they will practice, among other things, lifting each other off the ground.
Those lifts, a critical part of their routine on the ice, aren’t easy. “Lifting my teammates while going full speed down the ice requires a lot of strength and focus,” Kempisty says, “but you feel powerful when it goes right.”
By 11:30, Kempisty is finally back on campus, but she’s not quite done with physical exercise, heading out for a 25-minute run. Afterward, she stretches, showers, and meets her roommate for lunch, a brief break in a hectic day.
As her busy Wednesday morning slips into a bustling afternoon, Kempisty makes her way to the Sustainability Office in the Reynolds Campus Center, where, as a sustainability intern, she will work from 2 to 4. Following that, she grabs a table, puts on her AirPods, and makes progress on a paper before going to her 4:45 class, Scholar in Action, which she takes as part of being a Natalie Taylor Scholar, a program in which students strive to make a positive social impact.
As she navigates her days, Kempisty is always thinking of what needs to be done. She doesn’t let a free moment go to waste. If she finds herself with a spare 15 minutes, she may write an email or squeeze in some homework. “I am known to fit a lot of things into a small amount of time,” she says. “Being an athlete, you are always forced to focus on the moment and what you can get done in that moment. I am always working on something.”
Her Wednesdays are certainly not her only hectic days. For 10 to 15 hours every week, she works a retail job at REI. She also is an active member of Delta Sigma Pi, a business fraternity, and she dabbles in freelance photography, shooting weddings and senior photos. “When I can give a picture to someone that brings a smile to their face,” Kempisty says, “I’ve done my job.”
Her days may be filled to the brim, but Kempisty can’t imagine cutting something out. “Everything I do I am passionate about,” she says. With graduation looming, she is considering her employment options, including potentially pursuing photography as a full-time business, but she knows one thing for sure: She will keep skating.
The rink may require great sacrifice and commitment, but for at least another year, Kempisty will continue competing in synchronized skating. “I can’t see my life without it,” she says.
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