Thirteen years ago, Ballard High School junior Joslyn Waelti-Johnson laced up her ice skates for the first time. She stepped onto the ice, and with the help of Amy Grace of Ames, took her first spin around the Ames Ice Arena. It was that defining experience that changed Joslyn’s life forever.
Now, after countless hours of practice, endless early mornings on the ice and numerous trips to participate in competitions, Joslyn has not slowed up one bit.
It was that first experience on the ice when she made up her mind what she wanted to do with her life.
“I was 4 years old and when Amy Grace grabbed my hand and started skating really fast with me, I was hooked,” said Joslyn. “There was nothing like it, and I didn’t want to get off the ice.”
Since that first time 13 years ago, Joslyn has hardly ever missed a day of “ice time.” What she wants to accomplish eventually is to be a figure skater with the Disney organization. To get to that goal, she has had to work hard to pass many levels of figure skating testing, each level containing a series of elements in which she had to excel.
“Once I accomplished the basic elements, I advanced to the point I needed a private coach,” She explained. “My first private coach was Nancy Voltmer and my current coach is Traci Kepley.”
Testing through different levels is complicated, to say the least. But Joslyn has been able to achieve and move on to higher levels with artistic elegance.
“There are eight tests that you have to accomplish in U.S. Figure Skating,” she explains. “Each set of tests consists of a series of patterns on the ice. I passed them all last November and now I am considered to be a U.S. Figure Staking Gold Medalist at the Regional level.”
Obtaining that certification in figure skating begins with Regionals, which is the first event in the pipeline that feeds up to sectional competition. Joslyn achieved the Regional standing, which consists of Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin. In addition, she has achieved the 2013 Upper Great Lakes Regional Gold Medalist, the 2016 Upper Great Lakes Region fourth-place medalist at the preliminary level and the 2017 Upper Great Lakes Regional Bronze Medalist at the Open Juvenile level.
So what does this mean to Joslyn as she heads into her senior year of high school in 2018?
“I want to skate with Disney on Ice,” she said. “From a very young age, we went to every Disney on Ice that came to Des Moines. I knew from the first time I went to watch that was what I wanted to do when I grew up. I would also like to coach.”
Sounds pretty cut and dried. The motivation, the hard work and the early hours will hopefully soon pay off for Joslyn. She is up every morning at 4:15 a.m. to get “ice time” before school during the week and on Saturday mornings.
Moms Candi and Dawn say that they support their daughter in any way that they can.
“To have her on the ice every morning by 6 a.m. means up and going by 4:15 each day,” tells mom Candi. “She spends about 13 hours a week on the ice practicing. And off the ice includes training time at Premier Athletic Training of Sports Iowa.”
After ice time is completed each day, Joslyn is off to attend classes at Ballard High School. She appears to juggle figure skating and school activities with ease.
“School can be stressful,” tells Joslyn. “But I feel that I have been able to put school and skating on a level playing field. I am a member of the National Honor Society and have academic letters from my freshman and sophomore years. As far as the figure skating goes, I feel that from the time I started skating and currently, I want to coach, that it has come full circle.”
When you watch Joslyn skate, you can see the emotion that she puts into her programs.
“That is what I feel sets her apart from other skaters — it’s her emotion that she puts into it,” said mom Candi. “She is so passionate in what she is doing and it shows when she is on the ice.”
“We are so proud of her and what she has accomplished,” tells mom Dawn. “She works really hard and is so determined.”
And does watching their daughter perform make Joslyn’s moms nervous?
“At first it really made us nervous,” tells Dawn. “I would hold my breath the entire time she was skating, and I could do that for a minute. But when she does the longer programs, it’s really hard to hold your breath that long. Now I feel better when she is in her skates on the ice than anywhere else.”
And those skates…
The joke amongst Joslyn, Candi and Dawn is that her skates cost as much as a car.
“These are my vehicle,” jokes Joslyn. “They are very expensive. They are made in Italy. They have suspension in them because they have to support me when I am performing jumps.”
“Figure skating is a very expensive sport when you are at the level that Joslyn is competing at,” said Candi. “But it is so worth the cost. She loves the sport and we love to watch her skate and pursue her passion.”
And that road to becoming a Disney skater is a priority in Joslyn’s life, which she will jump into with both skates on.
“I will be submitting a video and a resume to Disney in hopes to get a live audition my senior year,” she explained. “The audition will probably take place next November, and if I am chosen, I will be on tour for eight months.”
“It’s what she wants to do,” tells Candi. “And if chosen, it looks like we will get to see a lot of the country as we follow her as she follows her dream.”
Like many other little girls watching Disney on Ice and wanting with all their hearts to be able to skate at that level, Joslyn is pursuing that very dream. But to this beautiful young woman, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” just might work out for her.