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Ice skater Purdy tours with Disney

Ice skating has given Nicole Purdy many memories and experiences.

After spending more than half of her 20 years practicing and competing, Purdy (East Lake) earned an opportunity to show off her skills in the 75th Disney on Ice anniversary tour. Since January, she has performed from California to Miami and throughout 14 cities in Japan.

Home now and preparing to resume classes at Central Florida this spring, Purdy treasures the moments with the Disney tour.

"I am so glad I did it," Purdy said. "It was something I dreamed about doing but never thought it would really be possible."

Purdy's career began while she also was roller skating. Until she was about 10, Purdy practiced both sports.

"I just felt I could progress more in ice skating than in roller skating," she said. "The future in ice skating was a much more logical choice. Plus, I loved ice skating from the first time I experienced it."

Among Purdy's first coaches were Rita and David Lowery of the Fort Lauderdale area. Purdy's family lived there until relocating to Clearwater when she was 12.

"We actually started with Nicole when she was about 9 years old," said Rita Lowery, who now is coaching with her husband in Cincinnati.

"Nicole was a good athlete and well-rounded. That's why she could skate freestyle and pairs," Lowery said. "She was very easy to coach. Most important in learning is the ability to learn and to have a good work ethic. Nicole did."

While training at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy in Oldsmar with the Lowerys, Purdy competed in the Junior Nationals in freestyle and in the U.S. Nationals twice in pairs with Josiah Modes of Temple Terrace.

In 1995, the duo placed fifth in the national novice division and was eighth in junior pairs in '96.

"After my junior year of high school, I kind of stopped skating because I wanted to enjoy my senior year in school," Purdy said. "I skated some, but I wasn't competing."

Last year, Modes _ who skates in the Busch Gardens ice show _ got in contact with Purdy at UCF to encourage her to try out for the Disney on Ice tour. Even after three years of not skating together, the team auditioned and was hired.

"They called sometime around the holidays and offered me a job with them," Purdy said. "Josiah was already with them. I accepted and was off to California to skate the second portion of that tour."

Purdy plans to return to UCF for spring classes, and she may begin coaching. With her competitive times behind her, she hopes to help others reach their dreams.

FOOTBALL: In his second season at Duke, Ryan Fowler (Seminole) is leading the Blue Devils in tackles with 109.

Second-year starter Chris Meyer (Clearwater) is Connecticut's tackles leader with 74. He collected a career-high 15 against Cincinnati.

Junior kicker Tony Lazarra (Shorecrest) has played in eight games for Clemson.

Freshman Philip Bryant (Clearwater) is a linebacker for perennial national power North Iowa Area Community College.

TENNIS: Freshman Natalie Tirapelli (Shorecrest) has earned the No. 3 spot in singles and No. 2 doubles position for Connecticut.

Her straight-set victories in singles and a doubles win contributed to the Huskies' first New England Championship.

UNC Greensboro junior Amanda Eutzler (Clearwater Central Catholic) won her singles and doubles flight competition in the Charleston Southern Invitational.

Eutzler won the Flight D singles final in straight sets and the doubles Flight B with Carlin Kannan of North Carolina in an 8-5 pro-set match.

DIVING: Megan Perry-Eaton, formerly of St. Petersburg, established a new Notre Dame record in 1-meter competition.

The red-shirt freshman scored 287.70 points, nearly five higher then the previous mark.

Ryan Braun (St. Petersburg) set school records in Washington University's first dual meet in the 1- and 3-meter competitions.

FENCING: FSU graduate student Sarah Rogers (Mary Baldwin College) of Palm Harbor competed in the AAU Junior Olympics this past summer in Salt Lake City after just a year of instruction.

Rogers, 19, competed in the epee fencing division.

VOLLEYBALL: Freshman Shanti Cortese (Tarpon Springs) was named to the inaugural Mid-Florida All-Conference Freshman Team.

Cortese set a single-season school record at St. John's River Community College in assists with 838 and a game record of 54 assists in its match with Lake-Sumter Community College.

Cortese was ranked ninth in the state in assists per game with 7.55.

Second-year St. John's right-side hitter and team captain Jennifer Shipman (St. Petersburg) was selected to the Mid-Florida All-Conference Team.

The 5-foot-7 Shipman was a leader in blocking, collected 113 kills and 311 digs.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119, e-mailed to namgammagte.net or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, Fla. 33756

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