Even though Ashley Frankenfield didn't bring back a prestigious title from her debut in a national ice-skating event held in New England last week, she's still gung-ho about what the future might bring her in the sport.
Ashley, 17, who will be beginning her senior year at Thomson High School in a few days, participated in the Junior National Showcase Championships near Cape Cod last week.
"It was an unforgettable experience, a big learning experience," said Ashley during a telephone interview with The McDuffie Mirror last Friday night. "I got a taste of what it was like to compete in the nationals. It was a lot of fun."
She called herself "a graceful loser," saying she wasn't upset that she didn't win a national title.
"It didn't upset me that I didn't win," she said. "I skated as well as I could and I had lots of fun doing it. I skate because I love it."
Ashley performed in all three of her events last Thursday -- Dramatic Entertainment, Light Entertainment and Interpretive Entertainment.
Her highest level of achievement in those three events was finishing seventh.
"I'm very proud of her," said her mother, Joyce Frankenfield. "I thought she did really good considering this was her first trip to the nationals. A lot of other girls there had been there several times, so I think experience plays a part in all of it. Nevertheless, I'm very proud she got the opportunity to compete at this level."
Her recent 10-day trip to New England with her mother and two of her closest friends, Megan Bales and Alexis Romero, was her first experience ever on a national level.
"The experience was awesome," said Ashley, who plans a return trip to the nationals next year. The competition will be held in either Cincinnati or Cleveland, Ohio next year.
"I'd love to compete in the nationals again next year," said Ashley.
Many successful ice skaters have competed on the national level several times before finally making it big -- sometimes as many as four times.
"It would be great to go back and see what I could do after learning so much about the nationals this year," she added.
Such a venture, as was the case this year, is an expensive one with her mother having provided the biggest part of that funding. Members of their church, Second Baptist in Thomson, along with some friends also raised money to help with the recent trip.
"I appreciate so much what everybody did for me; my Mom, just everybody," said Ashley said. "It really meant a lot to me."
Such an opportunity is a year away and in the meantime, Ashley is looking forward to the start of her last year in high school and putting thought into where she'd like to attend college.
"It's going to be an exciting year," said Ashley.
In addition to her school work and playing soccer for the Lady Bulldogs again, Ashley also will be involved in ice skating and working closely again with her coach, Renee Austin at Figure Skating Club of Augusta.
Unfortunately, her coach wasn't able to accompany her on the New England trip. However, Austin sent videos, as well as instructions for each event.
"I appreciate everything she and her husband have done for me," said Ashley. "Everything I've learned from both of them has been so helpful."
Her immediate future on the ice is to return for more and more practice.
"I'll be busy working on music cuts and new programs," said Ashley. "Skating will always be a big part of my life."