Ashley Frankenfield has been fascinated with the sport of ice skating since she was a little girl.
And now the 16-year-old junior at Thomson High School gets to perform her own talented routines on the ice while performing in front of crowds.
"This is like a dream come true," said Ashley, who has been actively involved with ice skating for the past seven years. "I've always wanted to learn to ice-skate."
Ashley became enthralled with ice skating while watching it on television with her grandmother, the late Bonnie Maxwell.
The more she watched the sport on television, the more compelled she became to learn how to be an ice skater.
After seven years, Ashley said she couldn't be more pleased that her dream of aspiring to become an ice skater actually came true.
"It's a wonderful, graceful sport and I love it," said Ashley, who is the reigning Miss Dearing Mayfest. "I love everything about it."
Her mother, Joyce Frankenfield, vice-president of the accounting department at First Bank in Augusta, said she has been pleased with her daughter's progress in the sport.
"She's come a long, long way," said Ms. Frankenfield, who sews all of her daughter's ice-skating clothing. "I'm extremely proud of her."
As a little girl, Ashley imitated ice skaters she saw on television.
"She wanted to be just like them," recalled her mother. "She imitated them by jumping and spinning around on the carpet in the living room. She'd say, 'Look Mommy, I can jump just like them.'"
Ms. Frankenfield said the intent of her and her mother was to let Ashley learn how to ice skate just for fun.
"We never thought that it would become any more than that, originally," said Ms. Frankenfield. "We just thought at the time that we'd take her over to the Augusta Ice Sports Center on Augusta West Parkway so she could enjoy herself and have fun learning to skate."
Ashley became a natural and soon caught the attention of others -- those who can spot stardom when they see it.
And before long, Ashley was not just ice skating for the mere sake of fun. Rather, the sport became fun in another way -- in a much more challenging way. Thus, Ashley became involved in the competition end of the sport.
And she couldn't be happier.
"I love competition, even though it's nerve-racking sometimes," confessed Ashley during a recent interview with The McDuffie Mirror. "You have to learn how to handle pressure in order to perform well."
Ashley's talents aren't just limited to ice-skating. She also plays soccer for the Thomson High Lady Bulldogs.
"There's something special about competition -- about doing the best you can and seeing what happens in the end," said Ashley.
Two of the first people to notice Ashley's skill at skating and knew she was more than just a recreational ice skater was Renee Austin and her husband, Andrew Austin.
They are both coaches at the Augusta Ice Sports Center.
"They are great people -- like surrogate parents to Ashley," said Ms. Frankenfield. "They were the 2001 National Adult Champions. Both of them have brought a level of professionalism that in my opinion is just so impressive."
In order to be a competitive ice skater, it takes lots of practice, self-discipline and deep dedication.
Ashley does her best to juggle those ingredients, while attending high school classes and maintaining a part-time job at a doctor's office in Augusta.
Because she and her mother share such a close bond, the two even manage to find a way to share the family car, now that Ashley has gotten her driver's license.
"She really works hard to keep everything going as well as she does," said her mother, who has equipped her daughter with a home gym. "She's got everything she needs to work out. She can lift weights and all."
Ms. Frankenfield said when your child loves something as much as her daughter loves ice-skating, "It's very rewarding as a parent. It's really something to see the passion and grace she puts into it when she's on the ice, skating."
The Frankenfields, who are members of Second Baptist Church in Thomson, don't take for granted the blessings that have been bestowed to them, now or in the past.
"We know that this started with God," said Ms. Frankenfield. "He provides for us all the time, no matter the circumstances and He gets all the glory."
Ashley gets up early three mornings a week in order to be at practice between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m.
Of course, that means early morning rising for her mother, too, since they have only one car.
"I truly admire her in getting up so early in the mornings and going to practice," said Ms. Frankenfield. "It has to be God's doings. He has shined His light on her."
Ashley would like someday to ice-skate in national competition and work in some capacity with Disney on Ice.
"That would be great if that happens," exclaimed Ashley.
Ashley talks with her coach at practice at the Augusta Ice Sports Center. She wakes up early to go to practice.[CAPTION]