This coach empowers figure skaters of colour to own their place on ice

This coach empowers figure skaters of colour to own their place on ice

Joel Savery is the founder of Diversify Ice Foundation, a Non-profit providing sponsorship, mentorship, networks, & opportunities, for competitive minorities in figure skating nationwide.

Beautiful News - February 2021 2
Supplied, Beautiful News

‘Black people don’t ice skate’ is a claim Joel Savary has heard too many times. “Actually, we do,” he retorts. Savary used to be a figure skater as a teenager, carving graceful arcs on the ice. But he had to call it quits because his family could no longer keep up with the expensive demands of the sport. Undeterred, Savary focused his efforts on those around him and has since become a champion for skaters of colour. 

“Right now, figure skating is very much a monochromatic sport,” he says. Savary established the Diversify Ice Fellowship and Foundation with a mission to sponsor, mentor, and equip young skaters of colour to enter the rink in the United States. The coach also penned the book Why Black and Brown Kids Don’t Skate, in which he offers strategies to eradicate as many social barriers as possible. “I really wanted to make sure that the pathway is set for anyone that wants to join skating,” Savary says. “They don’t have to feel the way that I did.” 

His zeal is inspiring kids across the country. One of Savary’s students, nine-year-old Kaitlyn Saunders, went viral in a video of her skating on Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. In a spirited response to the historic protests of 2020, she donned her skates and made her mark in the pursuit of justice. “Pave the way,” Savary says. “Not just for yourself, but for others.” Access to sport is never just about the arena or the rink. It’s about the recognition of one’s intrinsic right to be part of something.

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