SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- Deena DeLaRosa turned to a favorite activity to help keep the stress of life on ice. DeLaRosa, a medic with the 127th Medical Group, practices her hobby at a high level: the ice skating team she is a part of recently finished among the top 10 teams at the 2013 U.S. Synchronized Skating National Championships, which was held in Plymouth, Mich., Feb. 28-March 2.
Like many Citizen-Airmen in the Air National Guard, Technical Sergeant DeLaRosa has to balance a career in the Guard, along with a civilian career - she works in health administration at the John D. Dingell Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit - along with being a mom to two young sons. "I was looking for something to do for me, (skating) has turned out to be such a positive thing for me, I think it helps me in all parts of my life," DeLaRosa said, taking a break from her military duties during the February Unit Training Assembly meeting of the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.
DeLaRosa had skated for about 10 years as a girl, beginning at age 7, but then left the sport behind after graduating high school and enlisting in the active-duty Air Force. She served for eight years in the active Air Force and then transferred into the Air National Guard at Selfridge in 2009. She started skating again shortly after she joined the Guard, after about a 10-year break.
As a young girl, she had participated and competed in synchronized skating, in which up to 24 skaters perform a tightly choreographed routine. When she decided to get back into the sport, a couple of women whom DeLaRosa had skated with as a girl were part of an adult team, the Eclipse Synchronized Skating Team, at the Great Lakes Sports rink in Fraser, Mich., and DeLaRosa decided to join the team. Now, there are 15 women on the team, training together generally once a week.
"We're all moms, or are married or have careers, we're all juggling something, but we come together as a team and have really created a bond," DeLaRosa said. "Being a part of this team really means a lot to me." The Eclipse team placed first in the Mid-America Synchronized Skating Championship in early January and then finished in second place in the Adult Master's division at the Midwestern Sectional Championship, earning the right to be one of 12 teams to compete at the nationals.
"The teamwork aspect of it is the challenge, but also the reward," DeLaRosa said. "In that way, it is kind of like the military, if you don't do your job, you don't just hurt yourself, you let your whole team down." Chief Master Sgt. Roger Thomson, superintendent of the 127th Medical Group, said DeLaRosa's belief in teamwork is obvious to her fellow Airmen at Selfridge.
"We really do count on people to be a part of a team, to be willing to pitch in wherever," he said. "Deena brings that type of positive attitude with her to drill and to her military career." Thomson began the February UTA during the Medical Group's morning roll call meeting by holding up a local newspaper that featured an article about the Eclipse team heading to the national competition.
"We know TSgt. DeLaRosa will make us proud at the competition," he said. "We're proud of her already and excited about what she has already accomplished."