NKU Student Among Best Collegiate Figure Skaters
With all of the interest and enthusiasm at Northern Kentucky University surrounding its new Division I intercollegiate athletics program, you’d think one of the school’s most decorated student athletes might be a household name, at least on campus. But Kacie Kotnik doesn’t wear a Norse jersey and isn’t featured on any NKU rosters.
In fact, to those outside her inner circle Kotnik is just another college kid. The sophomore mathematics and statistics major isn’t 6-feet tall and blends in perfectly with her nearly 16,000 NKU classmates who have no idea she won the silver medal at the U.S. Collegiate Figure Skating Championships just a week before starting her fall semester.
“Skating has always been independent of school,” Kotnik says, “so being under the radar feels natural. It forces you to connect to your school through things other than your sport. So ultimately I think it’s been a good thing.”
The Columbus, Ind., native celebrated the silver medal by hopping on a plane from Boston to Cincinnati, where a car stuffed with everything she needed for the fall semester awaited. Figure skating requires tremendous balance, and she gets plenty of practice off the ice.
The constant traveling to competitions, hours at the Northern Kentucky Ice Center in Crescent Springs each day before class and steady dose of homework fills up her schedule pretty quickly, but Kotnik balances it all with the grace of…well, a figure skater.
“Sometimes I feel I live a double life,” she says. “I try to remember what’s important and what’s not. Although I’m by no means perfect, keeping my priorities straight makes it easier to balance everything.” Somehow she finds time to serve as a peer mentor in the NKU Honors Program and a STEM ambassador while also staying active in the Cru campus ministry.
While her classmates may not get to see the long hours and dedication required to be an elite figure skater, Kotnik’s mom certainly does. Nobody appreciates the balancing act more than Janice Kotnik. “She has worked extremely hard to become the best skater she can,” Janice says. “And she is willing to do that because she truly loves the sport.”
Kotnik says even though she doesn’t wear a Norse uniform, she is proud to represent the university in national competition. And competing against the top senior lady collegiate figure skaters in America is nothing new for her. Prior to her silver-medal performance in August, Kotnik was a two-time U.S. Figure Skating regional champion and a competitor at the U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships. Last month, she advanced to the 22-state Midwestern Sectional Figure Skating Championships, which will take place Nov. 9-13 in Cleveland.
Though skating professionally is something she’d love to do someday, for now Kotnik is happy to concentrate on her academics and earn her degree. “I feel really blessed to be at an awesome school like NKU, studying what I find interesting, but still doing the sport that I love,” she says. “At the end of the week, I may be tired but it’s hard to complain.”
This article appears courtesy of RCN partner KYForward and is written by Jessica Hahnel of Northern Kentucky University.
PHOTO: NKU sophomore Kacie Kotnik won the silver medal at the U.S. Collegiate Figure Skating Championships in August. (Photo from NKU)