Katie McBeath delivers Tri-C its first winter sports championship
September 14, 2017
Cuyahoga Community College doesn’t have a varsity hockey team. The College doesn’t compete in downhill skiing, curling or any other sport you might see in the Winter Olympics.
The odds, then, of Tri-C ever winning a championship in a winter sport are virtually nil. Or so you’d think.
Then you find out about Katie McBeath. She’s ranked among the top collegiate figure skaters in the country, she has designs on representing the U.S. in international competition – and she’s a Tri-C student.
McBeath represented Tri-C at the U.S. Collegiate Figure Skating Championships in Michigan this August. Three years ago, she placed second. This time, she won it all – Tri-C’s first and only national champion in a winter sport.
With a combined short-program and free-skate score of 151.02, McBeath bested a field that included skaters from schools such as UCLA, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Indiana University.
“I was very excited to represent Tri-C,” said McBeath, 22, of Garfield Heights. “It was important to me because Tri-C is important to me. Being a Tri-C student has given me a lot of flexibility to maintain a demanding training and competition schedule while taking classes.”
Therein lies the answer to the question you’re probably already asking yourself: How did a nationally-ranked figure skater come to attend Tri-C, which has no intercollegiate winter sports programs or facilities?
McBeath had already been a competitive figure skater for nearly 10 years when she received her high school diploma from Ohio Virtual Academy. She knew she needed a college option that would provide her with flexibility to build her studies around her rigorous training schedule.
Cost was another consideration, as was the ability to stay close to home and continue working with her coach, Sally Tasca. Tri-C met all of her needs.
“On average, I probably spend between 25 and 30 hours a week on the ice,” McBeath said. “Tri-C had a lot of options as far as where and when I could take classes, and I think that’s what initially drew me here.”
McBeath, who has earned a near-perfect GPA in her time at Tri-C, is taking a combination of online and in-person classes as she continues to pursue a psychology major.
“My teachers have been really good as far as working with me,” she said. “They understand everything I’m trying to balance. The online format has been really helpful in particular. I can just let my teachers know my competition schedule via email, and you usually get a full week to turn an assignment in. It makes my workload a lot more predictable.”
Eventually, McBeath would like to transfer to a four-year school, earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology and ultimately study for a Ph.D. in child psychology. But that’s down the road. Off the ice, McBeath is laying the groundwork for a future career; but on the ice, she still has a lot of skating left in her.
McBeath had less than two weeks to train for the collegiate championships. She had just finished another competition and had to quickly shift her focus to winning the title that narrowly eluded her three years ago.
“I worked really hard to get back there,” she said. “I was nervous before the short program, but I was able to calm my nerves and get a pretty good score. Once I had that, I knew my chances to win were good. I’m a lot more comfortable in the free skate, and I think it showed.”
Delivering a crowd-pleasing performance, McBeath won the free skate with a score of 97.96. She placed second in the short program with a score of 53.06, but when the judges tabulated the final scores, McBeath had done it.
She was a national champion – and for one moment, Tri-C was the most unlikely of winter sports powerhouse schools.
“It was rewarding to represent Tri-C on the ice and even more so to win a title like that while representing the school,” she said. “The people here have supported me and played a major role in helping me win.”
But like all athletes, McBeath is never totally satisfied. There’s always something she can improve
upon – something to keep fueling her competitive drive.
“I’m working toward a point goal, and I didn’t quite get there at the collegiate championships,” she said. I want to reach 160 overall points in a competition. I got 151 this time, so I am closer. It’s a new season best. But 160 is my goal for the rest of this season.”
That drive continues to make McBeath a winner both on the ice and in the classroom.