After representing her country in international synchronized figure skating competitions around the world, Frederick’s Ava Dimmick joined the military to serve in a different way.
Dimmick, 22, has returned to her home state to join the US Army as a first-year medical student at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda.
Dimmick, who grew up in Jefferson, got into figure skating at 3 years old after her father saw a magazine ad and decided Dimmick and her sister should try it.
Her dad made them try a little of everything, she said, but she fell in love with skating.
“There’s grace and dance and these very pretty movements, if you will, but what people often don’t realize is that it is really intense and athletically demanding with strength and endurance,” Dimmick said.
As she got better, she had to pick which direction she to go with her skating.
The natural progression is starting with singles, or individual competition. Some people stick with it, she said. Others branch off and go into ice dance or synchronized skating, like Dimmick did.
The team aspect drew Dimmick to synchronized skating and kept her there. She ultimately competed at the highest level with the Haydenettes, a Boston-based synchronized skating team.
“I’ve met some of my absolute best friends, like second family. I will be close to those girls for the rest of my life,” she said.
The Haydenettes are 28-time US national champions, according to their website. They’ve represented the US at every International Skating Union World Synchronized Skating Championship since 2000, the website said.
Dimmick dreamed of being on the Haydenettes since she saw them compete in the 2013 World Championships in Boston.
Years later, in 2019, Dimmick competed as a Haydenette in the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.
“I saw my parents and my younger sister waving the American flag as everyone’s chanting ‘USA’ and that moment, I usually get teary-eyed, like, saying it, it was just, like, that was the moment that I’d made it,” she said.
The 2022 World Championships were in Canada.
During a practice session in April, Dimmick received a call that she made it into medical school. It was a full-circle moment, she said, but also bittersweet since it would be the last time she would compete.
But this segue in her life made sense, she said.
“It kind of seems like a perfect fit as I transitioned from competing for USA — like, how can I still be a part of something bigger than myself?” she said.
Dimmick said she’s still trying to decide a medical specialty.
She’s interested in women’s health. She loves seeing how women’s health offices can provide a safe space.
“It was really eye-opening to see how little women knew about their bodies or were afraid to talk about things that are considered kind of taboo in society,” she said.
But she has just started her medical career, so she said she’s simply excited to try different things and see where she ends up.
She can see a lot of what she loved about synchronized skating in attending medical school, specifically the Uniformed Services University.
“It all comes back to being a part of something bigger than yourself, and working as a team and kind of leaning on each other, and camaraderie,” she said.
She’s excited for the next chapter of her life, but Dimmick knows she can never separate herself from the sport she loves. She’s thought about coaching.
“I don’t think I’ll ever fully leave the sport. It has given me so many opportunities, taught me so many lessons, and I got to meet really awesome people,” she said.
Follow Clara Niel on Twitter: @clarasniel