Crawford uses nationals stage to shine


Kalysta Crawford holds up her roller skates in front of her medals Friday, Aug. 2, in Bellingham.


Bellingham's Kalysta Crawford stood atop the podium, thinking little of her accomplishments.

Despite having just won first place in the Juvenile B Loops division at the USA Roller Sports Nationals in Albuquerque, N.M., her mind, and attention, had wandered elsewhere.

"At nationals, when she was standing up at the top of the podium, she was clapping and cheering for the other girls that were getting second and third place," Crawford's mother, Roxann Crawford, said in a phone interview. "She was so excited for them, because she sees everyone as her friend, not her competitor."

Crawford had much to be excited about herself, adding a third-place finish in the Juvenile A Loops four days later.

It was a tremendous, albeit rigorous, month for the roller skater. Just days before heading to nationals, Crawford grabbed three first-place medals, three second-place medals and four third-place medals at the 2013 Northwest Region Roller Figure Skating Championships in Portland, Ore.

She was also chosen as the Rudy Leppin Award winner, given to the roller skater with the most outstanding sportsmanship. The way she sees it, though, she's just rooting for her friends, which isn't hard to do.

"It's because they are good friends and I don't see them a lot, and I like to be nice to them when I see them," she said in a phone interview.

Her excitement for figure roller skating seems to have no bounds, and her ascension within the sports is by no means an accident or a coincidence.

A typical summer for a typical 9-year-old would usually be filled with tales of mischief and play, basking in the sun for hours on end. Crawford's is that of a different story, because she's not most 9-year-olds.

She spends her time practicing at the Lynden Skateway. Drives from Bellingham to Lynden have become a ritual for the Crawford family as she frequents the rink at the Lynden Skateway, at very minimum, six days a week. Sometimes even seven.

And she's not there for just a few hours, her mother notes, the practice sessions can run upward of six hours.

But she doesn't pay any mind to that.

"I love it. It's my favorite thing to do out of everything," Kalysta said.

That doesn't mean some days aren't more difficult than others.

"I like it so much that I suck it up, and if it hurts, well, it doesn't usually hurt anymore," she said. "It's just my passion."

It takes a certain level of dedication needed to get where she wants to go. Even at her age, her mother has noticed an unwavering directness in the goals she has set out for herself.

"She has dreams of making the junior world's team," Roxann said. "That's why she works so hard. She wants to get there, and you can do that once you are 12 years old.

"That's all she talks about at home. Junior world's team, and traveling the world skating and doing what she wants to do. She knows that if she really wants to do that, she has to work really hard to get there."

Only three positions are available each year on the junior world's team, Roxann added, so the level of competition vying for those positions is high to say the least.

It's been an exciting journey to watch Crawford grow into the skater she is, especially for her mother. Roxann Crawford works for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and has spent much of the last year away from her family working on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and then her most recent job in Alabama that ended July 19.

"I'm always surprised by how much she has grown in her sport," Roxann said. "When I leave, it looks one way. And when I come back, she has improved and I can see all the work she has put in. I'm always so proud of her for working so hard, and for putting in that time and effort."

Like any child, big, prestigious venues are a stage to perform well not just for an audience, but for the parents that invest all their time for their child.

"I wanted to show her I had been working hard," Kalysta said. "My mom is my best friend. It means a lot because I know that she loves me."

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