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Local skaters dreams come true


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AMHERST - It's been six years since Amherst's Laura Coleman started skating her dream, and she doesn't want to stop.

The 23-year-old is once again awaiting a contract with Disney on Ice for a new production. "My first production was Monsters, Inc.," she said before heading to the Amherst Stadium where she volunteers with the Amherst Skating Club. "It was a brand new show and I performed as a lot of different things." Growing up, Coleman's family moved around a number of times thanks to her father being an RCMP officer. They spent time in Fredericton where Coleman graduated, and skated with her last club. At 17, Coleman took the big step to reach her dream. "My friend Dale (Harrison) from the club wanted to try out for Disney on Ice and wanted me to go with him. I was getting to a point in my life where I was going to go to university to continue school or coach. I knew I wasn't ready to finish skating, but I knew going to school was the practical thing to do." But Coleman went to Ottawa for tryouts anyway. "We were technically too young to try out without our parents' consent, but we went anyway and Matt MacMurdo's coach vouched for us," she said, having met MacMurdo a few weeks prior while he was in Amherst for his sister's wedding. The tryout was in March 2003. In July of that year, Coleman got the call she was waiting for and had three days before leaving. During her years on the road with Disney on Ice, her family moved back to Amherst. "Everyone in my family skated," she said. Her mother and sister figure skated and her father used to play for the Amherst junior Ramblers. Her brother, Josh, is on the Ramblers roster for another year. Following her tour with Monsters, Inc., Coleman performed in Disney's 100 Years of Magic. In the two productions, she says she can't say which character she skated as, since they're iconic characters and her face was hidden behind a mask. She can, however, give her most recent character's name from the hit show, High School Musical. "I played Martha," she said, adding she could publicly reveal this information because it was her face that was seen. "It was an awesome and intense role. High School Musical was my favourite production by far, because it's such a huge phenomenon." Coleman said everyone in the audiences were excited about the show, dancing the dances with the skaters and singing along to the lyrics. "I love it," she said of skating with the company. "It's amazing and everything I ever could have imagined, plus more." Coleman says it's the performance aspect that draws her to the life on the road. Even if she fell, and she led the way for the females, she said the audience didn't care. "You could fall and make silly mistakes but two seconds later everyone would forget about it because they're so involved with what's going on." Though she's been in almost every state more than once and has performed throughout Central and South America, Coleman can still remember that first show. "I love making kids smile. My first show, I was on the ice for a couple of minutes when I made eye contact with one little kid and the smile on their face honestly made me tear up a little," she said. Having such a passion for skating and performing, Coleman couldn't see herself doing anything different, which is why she's stuck with it for so many years. Her best advice is to never give up. "It's a hard world out there, no matter what you do. If there's something you want to do, don't back down, follow your heart. If it's not Disney on Ice, there are so many more out there." Since she's been with the production, Coleman knows not to take herself too seriously. "But if I'm having a bad day, all I have to do is look back on my experiences and those first two minutes on ice and how I've made someone else's day, and it all goes away. "Not many people get to do what they love, and I am at the age of 23." rtetanish@amherstdaily.com

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