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Born to Skate

BU sisters take to the ice, each in her own way

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In the video above, learn more about the Sperry sisters. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Figure skaters and ice hockey players may practice at the same rink, but that’s about all they share in common besides skates. One sport is rough, the other elegant. One is quantifiable, the other awards points based on a complicated rating of artistic merit. One requires a jersey, the other sequins.

But two BU students have learned to not only bridge those differences, but in support of each other, embrace them. Meet the Sperry sisters. Megan (ENG’12), long and lean, is a figure skater on Boston University’s two-time national champion club figure skating team. Her younger sister Kerrin (CAS’14), more compact, is the starting goaltender for BU’s number-three nationally ranked women’s varsity hockey team.

It was probably inevitable that both women would find themselves drawn to the ice. Raised by a figure skating mother, who spent her own college years skating for Bowling Green State University (one of the first collegiate teams of its kind in the nation), Megan, Kerrin, and their brother found themselves lacing up when they were toddlers. Each soon developed an interest in figure skating.

“Some kids’ parents put them in ballet and swimming when they’re young,” says Kerrin. “But we all were put in skating. I was skating by two, three years old.”

“I don’t think there is a rink in Massachusetts our family hasn’t been to,” Megan says.

By age seven, Kerrin found herself mesmerized by hockey. After watching the hockey practices that followed figure skating lessons at her hometown rink in North Reading, Mass., she was no longer satisfied with lutzes, axels, and toe loops. “The hockey players skated fast,” she recalls. “They really sped around the rink, and I wanted to do that.”

“Then I saw D2: The Mighty Ducks, and I really wanted to play hockey,” she says with a laugh. “I begged my parents until they let me try it out.”

She soon learned that she had a natural aptitude for playing in goal. “We would take turns playing goalie at first, but I begged my coach to put me in net more often,” she says. “The first time I put on the equipment and played goal, I knew it was what I wanted to do.”

At first, Kerrin balanced her burgeoning hockey career and figure skating lessons. But hockey eventually won out.

“I knew Kerrin was a hockey player when she skated in our club show in a hockey jersey, skating to music from the Mighty Ducks,” Megan says. “We all knew then that the figure skating wouldn’t last much longer.”

Meanwhile, Megan graduated to competitive figure skating. An honors student at North Reading High, she decided to follow her mother’s career path: biomedical engineering.

“When I was looking at schools, academics was the main factor in making my decision, not figure skating,” she says. “But it was a nice perk. BU had an awesome figure skating team and dedicated ice time and coaching, so when I did make the decision to come here, I knew I was going to keep skating.”

Joining the figure skating club proved to be good for both Megan and her teammates. She focused on ice dancing, and her performance helped the team win the 2009 U.S. National Collegiate Championship, held in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Kerrin developed an interest in BU after visiting her older sister on campus. As backstop for the Lawrence Academy girls hockey team, she made the All-Independent School League Team three out of her four years and was recruited to play college hockey. Megan’s positive experience at BU and the University’s up-and-coming women’s hockey program, coached by Brian Durocher (SED’78), proved irresistible.

“I have a lot of respect for Coach Durocher,” says Kerrin. “I thought he was one of the best college hockey coaches in the women’s game. I also love Boston. I grew up around here, and I wanted to stay close by. Coach was giving me the opportunity to stay close to my family, and a great opportunity academically and athletically.”

Kerrin is now starting goalie, something the freshman player says she couldn’t even imagine a year ago. She is one of just two undefeated Division I women’s goaltenders (an honor she shares with Cornell University’s Lauren Slebodnick), and she has a record of 15-0-2 and a save percentage of .939, good for third in the nation. Her performance earned her Hockey East’s Goalie of the Month in December.

Megan, who recently completed a semester abroad in BU’s Dresden, Germany, engineering program, is back competing in ice dance for the Figure Skating Club this semester. The team finished third in the season’s first competition, and is well on the way to earning enough points to qualify for the 2011 Collegiate Nationals in late March.

The Sperry sisters may pursue different sports, but they share a common sense of determination.

“After every practice, I come up with two things I did well, and one thing I need to work on,” says Kerrin. “It keeps negativity from creeping in and allows me to do my best, which is always my goal.”

“Kerrin is very intense, very driven, which is perfect for hockey,” says Megan. “I am also driven, but in a less intense way, a bit more detailed. I think that’s why we chose the sports that we did.”

The sisters remain each other’s biggest fans. A recent Friday evening found Megan cheering Kerrin on as the Terriers beat Harvard 5-3. The following afternoon, it was Kerrin cheering Megan on as she skated a solo dance in the Figure Skating Club winter show. Joining them in the stands on both occasions were their other biggest fans—their parents.

Kat Hasenauer Cornetta can be reached at katcorn@bu.edu. Nicolae Ciorogan can be reached at ciorogan@bu.edu.

This story originally ran February 3, 2011.

1 Comments

One Comment on Born to Skate

  • Anonymous on 02.03.2011 at 9:37 am

    It is so nice to see an article about two sisters who both go to BU. Very nice story.

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