GALESBURG – For Rebecca Yowler, the assistant librarian at Knox College, a passion for figure skating has a strong connection with her status as an ordained minister.
“There’s a thing in Christianity called Taize where you repeat something over and over and you find comfort in it,” said Yowler, who preaches weekly at The Kensington.
“Skating does that for me. I’m at peace.
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“It’s a discipline just like prayer is a discipline,” she added.
“There’s a connection there for sure.”
At age 47 and not having started skating until she was 19, it might be surprising to learn Yowler recently won two gold medals at the US Figure Skating Midwestern Sectionals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and qualified for the first time ever for the US Figure Skating championships in Newark, Delaware in early April.
Yowler earned gold in Bronze Showcase for her portrayal of Ursula. She also won gold in Pre-Bronze Pattern Dances for her Rhythm Blues and Swing ice dances.
Yowler also competed in Bronze Free Dance where she placed fifth.
Yowler was immediately hooked
She is living proof competitive figure skating embraces far more people than the young athletes we see on television every four years during the Olympics.
According to US Figure Skating statistics for 2021, it had 133,419 members and 750 school affiliated and collegiate clubs in action across the country.
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“Adults make up about 10% of competitive skaters,” said Yowler. “There were over 400 adult skaters at nationals and the oldest was 83. The youngest you can be is 21.”
A native of Bedford, Kentucky, who had participated in ballet and tennis as a youngster, Yowler never stepped on the ice until she needed two PE credits to graduate from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky.
She was almost immediately hooked on skating.
“I’d never found anything that made me feel so happy,” she said.
“Skating feeds my soul. I fell in love with the ice and I never looked back.”
Yowler continued, “It’s the only experience I have in life where when I step on the ice, everything else goes away.
“It’s an extreme peace that I only feel on the ice.
“If I don’t get to skate, I’ll get grumpy.
“It’s almost like therapy for me.”
Yowler finds time to practice
Yowler learned her Master of Divinity at Lexington Theological Seminary in 2005 and also an additional certificate in young ministry.
She was ordained in 2007 and is still the only woman to ever be ordained in Trimble County, Kentucky.
She later received a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Dominican University.
Along with her duties as Assistant Librarian for Research and Instruction at Knox College’s Seymour Library, Yowler serves as the liaison to the Religious Studies department as well as Anthropology, Sociology, Dance, Education, Gender and Women’s Studies, Modern Languages (Spanish, French, and German), Music, Philosophy, and Theater. She also served on the CARLI Instruction committee, attended the ACRL Immersion program, and is currently participating in CARLI Counts, a consortial research immersion program.
Through it all, she’s kept skating and that isn’t always easy.
It requires three trips a week to the Owens Center in Peoria and another weekly run to Rockford to practice with a 12-member synchronized skating team based in that city.
Working with coaches in Peoria, her sessions last about 90 minutes and includes choreographing her programs. Her off-the-ice workouts include yoga, ballet and stretching.
“I do something every day,” Yowler said.
‘It’s not a normal hobby’
Most people are impressed to find out she’s a competitive figure skater.
“It’s not a normal hobby,” Yowler admits.
“But most are impressed I still do it and take myself seriously as an athlete.”
And Yowler has no plans to stop soon.
“As long as my body will let me skate, I’ll skate,” she said.
“Seeing people at nationals in their 80s, it’s inspiring.
“This is a sport of a lifetime. As lone as I can do it, I want to.”