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Precision Team first at roller skating nationals

Ask the coaches and some of the skaters on the Oaks Senior Precision Team, and they will tell you they have been roller skating since they could walk. All that time spent on wheels paid off in late July, when the 16-member team took first place in the national competition, held in Lincoln, Neb.

Photo Credit: PHOTO COURTESY OF CALLUM SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY - The 12 female and four male members of the Oaks Senior Precision Team execute a straight line during their prize-winning performace.Four of the skaters and both coaches live in Clackamas County, with the remaining members hailing from all over the Portland metro area. They practice for two hours twice a month at the Oaks Park roller skating rink.

Photo Credit: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Displaying their first-place medals are, left to right, Caitlin Richardson, Adelaide Holenstein and Courtney Richardson.Tiffany McKinnon and her friend and fellow coach Cindy White have been training skaters together for nearly 25 years, and have attended countless competitions, but this win was special for them.

“This was our first win at nationals coaching together,” White said. Both women work at Blount International in Milwaukie.

McKinnon, who graduated from Clackamas High School, where she was on the dance team, choreographed the team’s Latin-themed routine to the soundtrack from “Zorro” and the musical piece “Espana Cani.”

The group wore black and red costumes for their five-minute presentation.

In the precision team category, there are three divisions: junior, senior and novice, McKinnon said, adding that skaters have to be 15 years or older to qualify for the senior team.

“The skaters have to do everything as a group and in unison. They are required to do certain formations, like a circle, a pass-through, a straight line and a box,” she added.

McKinnon and White also coach a junior team, which placed ninth out of 11 teams at nationals.

Coaching

What do they like best about working with roller skaters?

“I like watching them when they get it and get excited; when they get better,” White said.

“Working with the seniors is a lot of fun,” McKinnon added, noting that many adults initially were at the rink to watch their children skate.

“I told them if we could get enough people together we could form a senior team,” she said.

For both women, the biggest challenge is getting everyone together for practices and keeping them focused on learning the routine.

“I wanted to stretch them to a new level. By the end, they were all able to do it,” McKinnon said, adding that the team is at the end of its season, and now the planning begins for next year.

Friendships

McKinnon’s two daughters, Caitlin Richardson, 14, and Courtney Richardson, 20, and Adelaide Holenstein, 15, took some time off from back-to-school preparations to show off their medals and talk about roller skating. Fellow team member Jordan Hess, who lives part-time in Happy Valley, was unable to attend the interview.

“I’m making friendships I know will last, and I like how you can move up in divisions and learn different things,” Caitlin Richardson said. She will be a freshman at Clackamas High School in the fall.

Her sister, who is studying forensic chemistry at Western Oregon University, said she grew up roller skating and “it would feel wrong not to do it.”

She also commented on the friendship aspect of the competition, adding, “Some friends I only see competing; I can say I am friends with a 4-year-old and a 70-year-old.”

Holenstein will be a sophomore this fall at La Salle Catholic College Preparatory, and has been competing in roller-skating events since she was 8; this is her second year on the senior precision team.

“What is best about it is you get to know everyone and work together. It is a challenge for everyone to work together in unison and stay focused,” she said.

Junior team

Both Holenstein and Caitlin Richardson also were on the junior precision team, and although they only placed ninth, that team was the crowd favorite, said Anna Steichen, Holenstein’s mother.

“It was really exciting, because the two teams were so different. The senior team looked so professional, but the junior team was so cute,” she added.

“The little ones stole everyone’s heart,” Courtney Richardson said.

What was it like having the support from the crowd?

“When we started doing our straight-line footwork, the music hit a certain rhythm and everyone started clapping to the beat — and that hadn’t happened before. Then when we finished, everyone was smiling,” Holenstein said.

Although the competitive season is over, McKinnon recommended that anyone interested in skating should visit the Oaks Park rink and investigate taking classes. She and White also offer private lessons.

For more information, visit oakspark.com, click on attractions, and then click on roller skating, or call 503-233-5777.



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