MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Piper Alberson is a rising fifth-grader at Donelson Elementary in Arlington, TN, but she's also a competitive speed skater.
“I started skating with my friends at the skating rink, just for fun,” said Piper.
Piper's mom Julie Alberson noticed that for Piper's young age, she was skilled on skates.
Julie encouraged Piper to try out rollerblades. Soon after, Piper joined the Tennessee Speed Skating team based in Cordova, TN. With limited ability to compete locally, Piper followed in the steps of her 16-year-old mentor Mckenzie Sayle and started competing nationally.
“If she didn’t have someone like that, I don’t know if we would be here,” said Julie.
Julie was referencing Piper's recent success being ranked second nationally in her age group after winning six gold and two silver medals at the U.S. Roller Speed Skating Championships in Colorado Springs.
However, with her success, Piper noticed skating against elite competition comes at a cost.
“We do fall a lot, a lot,” said Piper.
“She ended up having two bad wrecks where she hurt her knee and her hand was run over by a skate,” Julie added.
Piper's injuries caused her to be nervous at the start of her races, but instead of quitting she trained harder to get better.
“When she steps on that line there’s no more nervous look on her face. She is confident in herself, she is confident in her abilities and her training,” Julie said after Piper's dedication to intense training.
“Then there’s me on the sidelines who’s a nervous wreck,” said Julie.
However, Julie said, even with the nerves, she loves watching Piper’s dedication to being the best, pushing her to face her fears.
“It’s an amazing process to see her go from the scared little girl who used to get on the line to the confident girl who’s on the line ready for this battle,” said Julie.
Piper is training is now training for the outdoor nationals held in Waco, Texas in August.