At Home on the Ice

From the time Kyle Barnes was 3 years old, you could find him practicing his latest tricks and skills at the skating rink. Now, at the age of 17, with 14 years of figure skating under his belt, he continues to take his talent seriously and has medaled in every show he has entered. Kyle is a member of the Stars Figure Skating Club of Texas and has participated in countless competitions and showcases. He has earned 10 national title awards at national showcases, has won multiple Parade of Champions awards and has acquired more than 30 medals. These are some impressive stats for an accomplished skater of such a young age!

This Frisco High School junior has lived in Frisco for 11 years and has two sisters who are also athletes. “Both of my sisters were skaters, so I spent a lot of time at the rink,” Kyle says. His oldest sister, Kelsey (23), participated in the U.S. Figure Skating National Championship as an ice dancer, and Kierstyn (20), fenced at the national level and the Junior Olympics. Because of their encouragement and accomplishments, Kyle’s sisters are the ones he looks up to and gains inspiration from. His mother, Sue Barnes, is so proud of Kyle’s ability to use his talents and skills and says that his skating has positively contributed to their family dynamic. Ms. Barnes says, “Our family has always worked together to support each other’s pursuits. We all have had to be very flexible since each child’s needs are different at different times. The gratification comes in celebrating each other’s successes.” She also thinks figure skating has shaped her son into the person he is today. She says, “Skating has forced Kyle to become very organized and good with time management. It has also taught him about perseverance because there are probably more failures than successes.” She continues, “Through his coaching experiences, he has become much more patient and compassionate. I really believe he has a more mature outlook on life.” Ms. Barnes also talks about some of the insights she has gathered from her son’s skating experience and career. She says, “I think the positive impact skating has on your life comes from the lessons it teaches you. You learn that you have to pick yourself up after you fall, and you are going to fall … a lot. You have to adapt and change constantly. Kyle has learned about determination and that patience leads to success.” With so many great life lessons already learned and his outstanding qualities, Kyle is on his way to an incredibly bright future — one of great maturity, patience and determination.

The list of achievements could go on and on for this young skater. In 2010, at the age of 11, Kyle won his first National Showcase in the Pre-Juvenile Extemporaneous Improvisation and Parade of Extemporaneous Improvisation Champions. Extemporaneous Improvisation performances are done without previous preparation and are made up on the spot. The parade consists of a group of divisional champions who compete against each other for overall championship titles. Kyle has continued to win national awards and medals and has improved each year, winning his most recent awards this past August in the National Showcase.

Sarah Sullivan has been coaching Kyle since 2008 and has watched him grow up. She says, “When we began, I was much taller at 5-foot 3 inches, but now, at the age of 17, he towers over me.” Ms. Sullivan is a U.S. gold medalist in freestyle and moves-in-the-field, and she specializes in teaching freestyle, choreography and moves-in-the-field. Ms. Sullivan works closely with Kyle to perfect his skills and always motivates him to do his very best in every competition. “Sarah leads to my success. She pushes me to try my best at all times,” Kyle shares.

There are many parts to a skating competition. Kyle says, “The competition is great and it is fun to meet new people.” He will participate in a few more shows this year, including several Christmas shows at an outdoor ice rink and at a local showcase in January. In addition to his upcoming competitions this year, Ms. Sullivan says they are already preparing for the 2016 National Showcase. She says, “Our goals are always the same: to improve on what we did the year before and create entertaining and competitive programs.” Once they return from any national showcase, they begin working on the next showcase to ensure ample time to practice and prepare. Ms. Sullivan says, “Kyle has a very motivated work ethic for his National Showcase programs.” Ms. Barnes also comments on Kyle’s noticeable enthusiasm and says he is “internally motivated.” She adds, “He enjoys the performance aspect of his skating and the satisfaction that comes from getting recognition or simple compliments. Off the rink, he is motivated by a challenge and definitely hates to be bored.”

The National Showcase is a competition in theatrical skating and is composed of single skaters, duets, small ensembles of three to seven members and production numbers of eight to 30 members. The National Showcase has several categories, including light, dramatic and interpretative types of performances. Kyle placed and earned awards in all three categories when he competed in the showcase this past August.

Ms. Sullivan says, “These programs that we create are very involved. The National Showcase competition is different from other skating events because props are often used, and we have taken full advantage of this opportunity. He is very talented with incorporating hats, canes and even a bamboo stick that he jumped over for one of his programs.” She adds, “Prop work requires so much preparation to look effortless along with skating elements.” Ms. Barnes says, “Just because you have difficulty with one aspect of skating, it does not mean you are not outstanding at something else. This will certainly help him as he goes into the next phase of his life and tries to determine his career path.”

Along with practicing with Ms. Sullivan, Kyle is especially involved in extracurricular activities in and out of school. He plays the cello in Frisco High School’s orchestra, is a member in the Math Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and is part of Boys Scouts of America (where he is almost an Eagle Scout). Kyle also has a knack for reading and enjoys playing games in his spare time.

What does Kyle have planned for the future? “I plan to go to college. From there, I will hopefully find a path that I am really interested in. I know I want to continue skating. It is an important part of my life,” Kyle says.

Kyle Barnes is a talented 17-year-old who has worked hard to establish his already successful skating career. All of that hard work has definitely paid off, not only because of the awards he has won, but also because of the recognition he has received in the process. The people in his life will have his back and be there for him as he continues to chase his dreams.

Frisco STYLE
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