Freshman Alexa Hassell, born and raised in the Dallas area, has been figure skating competitively for 12 years. To this day, she skates about five days a week and competes four to five times a year. She described herself jokingly as, “very into it.”
Along with the demands of a full college course load, Hassell is actively involved in the University of Dallas community. She served on the RHA board, she’s part of the Italian Club, active in the campus’s Blessed is She community, Vice President of the UD Art Association, and has an internship as an event coordinator for the Texas chapter of the Patron of the Arts in Vatican Museums.
Despite all these other activities, Hassell decided to continue figure skating through college, simply for the love of the sport.
If you’ve ever seen the classic 2005 film Ice Princess, or even the riotous Blades of Glory, professional skating can seem glamorous and effortlessly picked up. The reality is quite the opposite.
In order to get on track to become professional, skaters should be “competing at a national level by [the age of] 14”, according to Hassell. SportyCo News specifies that professional figure skaters who compete at the Olympic level begin their career “extremely young,” between five and seven years old.
The sport can get costly, with the price of skates, high-performance clothes, costumes, makeup, private lessons, choreographers and coaches adding up, escalating to even $50,000 annually.
However, Hassell doesn’t have any desire to go professional and considered quitting for a long time. She specified that pro skaters often train in an accelerated track, while she chose to train recreationally. This was mainly to stick with the “friendly, inviting” atmosphere of recreational skating, which she said was simply “a more wholesome environment.”
Hassell choreographs and cuts her own music for performances and programs, which is uncommon. Normally, coaches do all the behind the scenes work and the skaters simply skate. Hassell started coaching brand new skaters, of all ages, while in seventh grade and still coaches twice a week.
For Hassell, skating simply comes down to passion.
In her sophomore year of high school, Hassell underwent spinal fusion surgery.
“I went into the surgery with the possibility of never skating again,” Hassell said. “I came out of the surgery and six months later I was skating.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, a spinal fusion requires a two to three day stay in the hospital, and several months for the spine to heal.
“I was walking on the second day [after the surgery],” Hassell said.
As a politics and Italian double major, Hassell’s long term goal is to become an international lawyer, specifically in Italy and western Europe.
“The specific type of law I want to do is called art law,” Hassell said. “So you’re educated in intellectual property law. Practicing, for me, would be the restitution of stolen work, a lot of which is from World War II.”
Hassell cited the small size and uniqueness of classes as important in her choice to come to UD.
“I chose UD for the Catholic atmosphere, the true Catholic authenticity, and the structure brought by the liberal arts core,” Hassell said. “It teaches you how to critically think, which is very important for law school.”