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Four of the Wight Sparkles sleeping on a ferry home from Gosport after a 3am start

Since AEW closed Ryde Arena in October the rink sits empty. Our teams, our coaches and our children travel at crazy hours just to keep their dreams alive. Our Island is tantalisingly close to the mainland, but unless you happen to own your own 'plane or helicopter, the only way to get to it is by boat. Wightlink Ferries, who sponsor our teams have shown dedication by continuing to fund the travel for our teams. Thank you Wightlink, for recognising what this means to our children and our community!

Kallum at 3am waiting for his lift to his lesson on a skating rink on the mainland

Our coaches have shown remarkable dedication, facing the greatest obstacle imaginable, no ice on which to train, practice or play with remarkable determination and resilience. Chief Skating coach Terri Smith writes: "I've just been to 3 rinks in 13 hours 5-7.45pm at Bracknell, 10.30-11.30pm at Gosport & now 5.30am-2pm at Guildford. Just to keep everyone skating!!" Those who know what we have been going through know that far from being unusual this sort of schedule is now normal for Terry and our other coaches. All our skating and hockey coaches, managers and volunteers have had to put in ridiculous hours, far too much of it travelling rather than skating, in order to continue to keep skating and hockey alive for the people and children of the Isle of Wight. Thank you to all our coaches for your dedication to the sport you love and the adults and children who have caught the fire of your dreams.

Perhaps the most amazing dedication has been shown by the children on the teams themselves. Seb, who had to sleep from midnight to three in his car because training for the Southwest team finished too late to get the midnight ferry. The Synchronised Skating teams, who had to get practice in either before or after local teams needed their rinks, getting the ferry home at midnight after midnight or leaving the Island before 4am. Hockey players waking up at three to get a ferry so they can train in Guildford at 5am. These kids are amazing!

Dedication matters. It's so easy to give up when something gets hard. You've probably heard that "grit" is the new buzzword in education— a character trait that is said to predict a child's future success more accurately than parental income, neighbourhood or schooling. If you don't know what it means, just look at these kids and what lengths they are willing to go to stick with something they care about. That's grit. That's dedication.

The Exhausted Wight Jewels

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