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Starting Kids in Sports Early Wears on Bodies


The Olympics have us all on the edge of our seats cheering for Team USA, and a lot of the athletes start young such as Team USA pairs figure skaters Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

They started when they were young, and Marshfield Clinic Dr. Cristin Newkirk said starting your kids in a sport so early has pros and cons.

"That was the first solo I ever did," 14-year-old Ashley Cherney said. "I was relay scared when I did it."

Cherney paged through photos stemming from when she started skating at six years old.

"There was a paper that came home from school, and I brought it home to my mom and dad," Cherney said. "I said I want to skate."

Cherney said while the shiny trophies and glitzy dresses and costumes are fun, the sport wears on her body.

"The impact from the ice is hard on your body," Cherney said. "I sleep with a heated blanket every night because my back is messed up."

"The developing skeleton has a lot much more different areas of stress than the adult skeleton," Dr. Newkirk said.

Dr. Newkirk said kids starting sports at an early age has its pros and cons.

A pro has to do with the amount of hours you put in.

"There's a theory out, and it's been out for a while that you need 10,000 hours in any one discipline to become an expert in that discipline," Dr. Newkirk said.

Dr. Newkirk said a con is that young bodies are more prone to overuse issues, especially around growth plates, since their skeleton is still growing and bones aren't completely hard yet.

"Kids can handle certain things," Dr. Newkirk said. "We don't have to treat kids like their 'China dolls.'"

But making sure the 'China doll' is happy performing is most important.

"Frequently checking in with your kid and asking, 'are you having fun?'" Dr. Newkirk said. "That's the point of all this is to have fun."

The fun aspect is is why Cherney said she continues to make skating memories, but the rush and adrenaline of competition is what drives her to succeed.

"My favorite part is jumps because you're off that ice and you just get that feeling in the air, and you let yourself go," Cherney said.

Cherney's next competition in Marshield is at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday March 1, at the Marshfield Youth Ice and Rec Center located on 405 East 17th Street, Marshfield, Wis.

Skaters also will skate at 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Sunday, March 2 at the Marshfield Youth Ice and Recreation Center.


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