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  1. #1

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    TSL's Interview with Mary Beth Marley

    http://www.theskatinglesson.com/mary...ley-interview/
    Four years ago, Mary Beth Marley was a rising star in the sport. After just missing the 2010 National Championships, Mary Beth took up pairs skating and teamed up with Rockne Brubaker. Before long, Mary Beth was competing against the very best skaters in the world. Pressure and personal difficulties soon followed. In our interview with Mary Beth, she discusses her rapid ascent in the sport, the personal issues she faced, her reasons for leaving the sport and her positive outlook for the future.
    Link to the 1 hour+ interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxoeUC9N8dA
    At around the 30-min. mark, Mary Beth talks about how she decided to leave her partnership and the sport a year ago when the physical and mental toll (from a lifelong struggle with perfectionism (ETA: she never actually said "eating disorder")/issues of self-control) was becoming too much to bear and was starting to affect her skating/daily training. She says that things got a lot worse after she stopped skating before she could embark on a full recovery process. Today she is working with Chicago area coach Mary Alice Antensteiner, choreographing for her students, skating for herself, and keeping the door open to the possibility of competing again in the future. She credits Antensteiner for playing a big part in her recovery.

    "A look into a day in the life of Mary Beth Marley as she continues her recovery and embarks on a return to the sport." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1HIaorPioc (3 mins.)
    Last edited by Sylvia; 07-10-2013 at 06:29 PM. Reason: To clarify wording
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

  2. #2

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    That was a great interview and she truly is a brave young woman to finally face her problem head on and recover while she is still young and has a bright future. She had so many good things to say about Rockne, too, and I admire him for accepting her decision knowing that it affected him as well. I would have loved to see them achieve great things but I'm so glad she has found her way to health and happiness. Maybe one day we'll see her again on the ice.
    MERYL DAVIS AND CHARLIE WHITE - 2014 OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALISTS!

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    MB looked so stressed out and unhappy in her last year with Rockne and there is such a difference now...in a good way. You can appreciate her eating disorder now that her body has transformed into what I would call a normal state. Even with the normal diet and active life that she has now it's incredible to try and understand what she put herself through to achieve the small size she was when she competed.

    Sounds like she's finding her way and has already come so far as to be able to talk about it. Great for her!

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    She's a lovely young lady and I wish her all the best. I admire her strength in discussing her personal issues as I'm sure there are a lot of people who can learn from her willingness to share.
    "The Devil is joining in, and that's never a good sign." Phil Liggett

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garden Kitty View Post
    I admire her strength in discussing her personal issues as I'm sure there are a lot of people who can learn from her willingness to share.
    This is so true. Eating disorders are like vampires - they not only suck the life out of you, they thrive in the darkness of secrecy and the veil of shame. The first step to recovery is shining a bright light on them and ending the denial. We heard MBM herself cite Jennifer Kirk's openness as a lifeline that helped her feel less alone, and I'm sure MBM's candor will similarly spark other young women (and men) to seek help.

    I was really impressed by the depth of emotional maturity that Mary Beth displayed. Kudos to her and to Jenny and Dave for so openly addressing such a sensitive topic.
    "I miss footwork that has any kind of a discernible pattern. The goal of a step sequence should not be for a skater to show the same ice coverage as a Zamboni and take about as much time as an ice resurface. " ~ Zemgirl, reflecting on a pre-IJS straight line sequence

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    The total quitting of the sport makes complete sense now! It was a complete bafflement before and all there was rumors and allegations of bulimia anorexia etc! Good to talk about! Teach others. Mbm role could be as teacher and mentor!

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    she's a very brave young girl to share her story, and i'm sure we all wish her the best in her recovery. all of these young kids put so much into the sport. as fans, I hope they know that we just want them to be happy.

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    She really was thrown into a tough situation, and pair skating itself requires a rather specific mental state. It's a shame that someone at 4'9" still felt so much pressure to stay so small.

    It was a valiant effort, but you could tell it was quite difficult for her to give that interview. She kind of danced around several of the questions pertaining to her eating disorder and struggles. Even though it was quite clear they were discussing an eating disorder (and Jenny flat out said it), she avoided using those words. Perhaps it will become easier for her to talk about it as time goes on and she continues in her recovery.

    I can't imagine how difficult it must have been in the months right after she left the sport, especially with the guilt she was feeling in having her family sacrifice so much for her to skate pairs. She is very brave for the way she handled this situation and got the help she needs. It's great that she loves coaching because that should help her to find all of the time and effort she put into high level skating to be really worth it despite the premature ending.
    Last edited by stjeaskategym; 07-10-2013 at 05:51 AM.

  9. #9
    drinky typo pbp, closet hugger
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    yeah, I noticed that MBM never actually said she had an eating disorder and sidestepped all of the direct questions Jenny asked her about how the disorder manifested itself. She looked truly anguished at times. But in general she was amazingly articulate and even funny about her experiences (when she talked about going to a regular school for the first time since 3rd grade!), and very, very level headed. Absolute best wishes to her, on and off the ice.
    Q: Why can't I read the competition threads?
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    Oh the irony of Tai Babilonia, who also struggles from an eating disorder, ranting about US pairs skaters who don't stick together through all of their problems, both in general and with a shout-out to Marley/Brubaker, when walking away from skating gave Marley a chance to have a physically and mentally healthy rest-of-her-life.
    "The team doesn't get automatic capacity because management is mad" -- Greg Smith, agile guy

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    How brave of her.

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    This was a really good one - MBM came across as articulate and thoughtful. I also sense that she isn't quite as comfortable as she might be, but things like this take time. It isn't like healing a broken leg. I wish her all the best

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    I agree she comes across as relly intellegent, articulate, and really level headed about this whole thing. Wishing her all the best in the future.

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    As a parent of an athlete nowhere near Mary Beth's talent or potential, but one who still works hard and probably has questions some days about why she's doing this and who she's doing it for, this interview is sobering. Possibly required viewing for parents before they ever sign-up their kid for a sport. Once parents start spending time and money and other adults or teammates start depending on a kid, the pressures can just build-up whether we realize it or not. Somewhere, in spite of the depth of her problem, she was given the message that the sport was hers to own or to walk away from, and that she would still be loved. And that she was worth more than even the Olympics. Somewhere along the line, a lot of people did a lot of the right things with and for this kid.

    .

  15. #15
    recovering Oly-holic
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jozet View Post
    Somewhere, in spite of the depth of her problem, she was given the message that the sport was hers to own or to walk away from, and that she would still be loved. And that she was worth more than even the Olympics.
    Beautifully put. Agree with your entire post.

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    She captures really well how EDs come from within--and how hard it is to escape your brain sending you wrong messages. She showed how it isn't necessarily one thing in particular external to yourself that triggers it (and it even continued after she quit skating, so nobody can say "skating caused her ED"). I hope that she's able to continue developing healthy eating habits and healthy ways of coping with stress, and I hope she doesn't have any lingering health issues from the disorder.

    She also conveyed very well how difficult it is for someone with these issues to talk about it, especially given that she's not that far out from her worst. I imagine Jenny was trying to get her to give more specifics because that's probably part of the recovery process--and MB just isn't quite there yet. She admitted that it's still a work in progress.
    Last edited by LilJen; 07-10-2013 at 03:08 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LilJen View Post
    She captures really well how EDs come from within--and how hard it is to escape your brain sending you wrong messages. She showed how it isn't necessarily one thing in particular external to yourself that triggers it (and it even continued after she quit skating, so nobody can say "skating caused her ED").
    Agreed. I hope it didn't come across that I thought skating or any outside pressures caused the eating disorder. :-)

    Mary Beth was so clear in saying that sports even at elite levels can be done with health foremost in mind. I was just noting that sometimes it's so hard to know what kids are going through mind, body, and soul...especially during the sometimes difficult years when even the most level-headed teens are struggling with suddenly new bodies and emotions. I just thought Mary Beth's interview was a good reminder for me to be open to listening and letting go of my wants for my kid, and to remember that this is her journey.

    As much as I know that some kids do struggle with different kinds of issues when involved in elite sports, it really bugs me when people immediately assume that a girl participating dance or gymnastics or skating is on track for unavoidable weight and body image problems.

  18. #18

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    I wish Mary Beth the very best; and a happy, healthy life,
    She is a young woman to admire.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by LilJen View Post
    She showed how it isn't necessarily one thing in particular external to yourself that triggers it (and it even continued after she quit skating, so nobody can say "skating caused her ED").
    There's nothing contradictory about these two things: an event or situation can trigger/cause behavior that continues throughout someone's life. People don't suddenly become "cured" by walking away from a situation/trauma or drug rehab would be a permanent fix. Throughout the interview Kirk was gently trying to point out the ways in which the culture of skating creates pressure and sends unspoken messages and group think about weight, eating, body image, and "perfect princess" syndrome in which the pressures are internalized and encourage obsessive behavior. Her insistence that everything was her responsibilty sounds to me like a vestige of the control issue that started the behavior in the first place. Of course it's critical for her to understand her triggers and recognized when her brain is trying to "trick" her to think in old familiar patterns, and it sounds like she's being vigilent about it, to prevent herself from falling into them just because the outside situation has changed.
    Last edited by kwanfan1818; 07-10-2013 at 05:18 PM.
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    Glad she made it clear that in her mind her issues have to do with her personality and not necessarily with skating, Rockne or her coaches. I wish MBM all the very best for a long, happy, healthy life.

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