For 12 years, Nicole Ogloza pursued a sport to call her own. After trying all kinds of sports and different activities such as guitar lessons, a flier put an end to her search. Nicole found a sign-up sheet for beginners' roller skating and decided to give it a shot. She concluded her first practice session as a Level 3 skater, out of four levels — a rare accomplishment — and became fully dedicated to the sport. Even though roller skating isn't a commonly known sport, this 14-year-old freshman at Gulf High excels in one that is more familiar than many realize. "We can do anything that ice skaters can do, but it's a little harder because the skates are heavier," Nicole said. "I like it because you can express yourself on skates — whatever is going through your head you can take it out on the floor."
Spending five days a week practicing at Spinnations Skating Center in Port Richey, including an eight-hour session on Saturdays, Nicole began to see her hard work pay off as she collected medals in events as a member of the Florida Skating Academy's senior competitive club.
"She just has a knack for skating. Whatever you tell her to go out there and do, she does it," Nicole's father, Andrew, said. "We competed here (in Port Richey), Auburndale and a few other places, and she always came out on top."
With her success in Florida, she decided to take the next step and compete nationally.
Two years after her initial practice, Nicole established herself as one of the premier skaters in the country. In June at the Southern Region Championships, which consists of skaters from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, Nicole won first place in both freestyle and dance, and finished third in figures.
Her impressive showings earned her a place in the U.S. Championship Competition in Lincoln, Neb., a 15-day event in late July and early August where Nicole performed a 21/2-minute routine in front of a large audience for the first time.
Consisting of five jumps and three spins, Nicole excelled, defeating 24 skaters to earn a gold medal in the Woman's C singles event and finished fourth of 32 skaters in the Solo B dance event during her first national competition.
"She was solid during her performance out there, she fought for everything and performed very well in front of the crowd," coach Melissa Quinn said. "She really started late, but has made up a lot of ground quickly and I don't see any reason why she couldn't fulfill her potential and go (to the World Championships)."
Following her performance in Nebraska, Nicole underwent minor foot surgery to correct an abnormal bone growth and hasn't been on skates since the end of July.
The recovery time is expected to last until the end of September, causing Nicole to miss the opening month of the skating season, but if the past is any indication, missed time won't play a factor in her success.
"Since roller skating isn't an Olympic sport, the ultimate goal for me is to at least compete at the World Championships," Nicole said. "I think if I keep practicing and advancing, I have a chance to get there."
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