Anyone who knows me understands my deep love and passion for the sport of figure skating. However, many people don't know that I could have easily turned the other direction to leave the sport as part of my past completely once I quit competing as many formers skaters do. There is an immense amount of emotional distress, physical pain, intense pressure, and thoughts of unworthiness that come with the sport, which result in athletes feeling drained and burnt out. Moving on to a brand new chapter in life can be seen as an easy decision. But for me, quitting my career as an elite figure skater was by far the hardest decisions of my life as I was letting go of an art that allowed me to express my truest self, passion that provided me with valuable life lessons, and a lifestyle where I committed countless hours of hard work.
At the beginning of my Freshman year of college, I learned that the physical and mental drain of balancing out my full-time load as both a student at UC Berkeley and the demands of an elite athlete was all too overwhelming. I made the tough decision to gear my full attention towards academics. Narrowing my focus on books, lectures, and even the fun social parts of meeting new friends and attending awesome college parties left me uninspired and unfulfilled. In addition, skating simply for fun was not an enjoyable experience for me as it brought back old memories and emotional hurt.
I felt stuck. Without skating in my life, I lost my identity and I fell into a deep depression. I completely lost all of my confidence, I gained weight, and I isolated myself as I drowned in my own self-deprecating thoughts. This experience of hitting rock bottom my freshman year of college led me to hardly recognize the girl staring back in the mirror. I hated who I was, I struggled to concentrate in school, and I was on the verge of taking an academic break. I didn’t though. I knew deep down inside that the only way to turn my life around was to face my problems head on.
Skating was the missing factor that left a huge void in my life, but I was too embarrassed to step foot at the rink where everyone knew me for all the success and achievements I earned on the ice. Nonetheless, I had to let that fear of people looking down at me go, and I started skating for fun again. Soon after, I was encouraged to join the Cal Figure Skating Team where I became Team Captain. I began investing more time into teaching skating classes and private lessons which brought me so much joy and happiness.
By slowly incorporating skating back into my life in new ways, I noticed a shift in my emotions. I felt alive again and more like the bright and bubbly Michelle that everyone once knew me as. By letting go of my own negativity and the fears of what the skating community thought of me, I opened new avenues to make an impact. Over the next few years in college, I continued to nurture my team and my students. I thought less about myself and poured my energy into others. Every success that the team earned and any accomplishments my students achieved left me fueled and motivated to put more work into my new opportunities in the skating world. I learned that I didn't have to make it to the Olympics (every skater’s dream no matter how unrealistic it may be) to be happy! What truly ignited me was being able to use my talent of figure skating to make an impact on those around me which is the ultimate driving force behind why I created coachmichellehong.com!
My mission is to provide meaningful FREE content for skaters by sharing fun tutorials, motivational tips, emotional guidance, and any advice I have from my unique perspective as a nationally recognized competitor under the IJS System, the former President of the Cal Figure Skating Team, and a Professional Figure Skating Instructor to empower the next generation of figure skaters to become the best version of themselves both on and off the ice.
My purpose is to develop a safe community built on the foundation of honesty, integrity, and pure passion that will help skaters feel less alone in this crazy yet, rewarding sport of figure skating. I’ve endured many hardships throughout my skating career and there were countless times when I felt alone in the struggle of not feeling good enough and wanting to give up. The purpose of my website is to help prevent these feelings of unworthiness and to help skaters discover their full potential, while having fun. If you are ready to enjoy skating to its fullest and are eager to build your confidence, then join the Coach Michelle Hong community today!
Michelle started figure skating at the age of 7 years old after watching her older sister, Melissa Hong, fall in love with the sport. With the help of her sister, she completed her Senior Moves in the Field by the age of 12 years old. Coached by Lynn Smith, at the age of 13, she qualified for the US Jr. National Championships at the Juvenile Level and did so the following year at the Intermediate Level. Michelle was the 2009 Central Pacific Novice Ladies Regional Champion and she qualified for the Pacific Coast Sectional Championships at the Novice, Junior, and Senior Level. She was also a two-time US National Alternate. Michelle’s continuous passion for the sport of figure skating shined long after her own competitive skating career. While studying at UC Berkeley where she majored in Business Administration and Media Studies at the Haas School of Business, she had the honor being President of Cal Figure Skating helping the team grow from 5 members her Freshman year, to 30+ members her Senior year.
In addition to leading the team, Michelle deeply enjoyed coaching her skaters and became more invested in the growth of her students despite her busy schedule. She began teaching figure skating lessons at the mere age of 16 years old. She found strong fulfillment in teaching young skaters not only the technique and skills of the sport but, also inspiring them to develop inner confidence both on and off the ice. Michelle is skilled in teaching all aspects of the sport from choreography, spins, jumps, off-ice conditioning, theatre on ice, flexibility, to moves-in-the-field. However, Michelle’s specialty in her teaching style is definitely her relationship with her students and her unique ability to truly relate and understand how her students are feeling. Emotional strength and inner confidence are aspects of the sport that are often overshadowed by the technical portion of the sport even though mental strength plays a huge role in the success and happiness of a skater’s journey.
Thus, Michelle’s ultimate mission is to use her expertise in figure skating and strong relationship building skills to help empower the next generation of figure skaters to not only excel in competition but, also find enjoyment and fulfillment both in the sport and beyond!