Olympic Medalist Returns to CHS

On Friday, February 13th, 2015, an Olympic medalist returned to Centennial. When she was just sixteen years old, Katherine Reutter approached Coach Mac. What she told him would be her future.

As she approached him, she fought the nervousness students tend to get when approaching Mac. Then she remembered, nobody gets help when they’re nervous. They don’t get jobs. So she perked up, and in that act of self confidence she approached Coach Mac. She started “Coach Mac,” his first response was typical Coach Mac, “Who are you and what do you want?”

“I’m Katherine Reutter, and I was wondering if you could help me train, I want to be in the Olympics.” That day would change the rest of her life. Reutter then left at lunch and went to skate at the U of I. Often times, she wouldn’t eat anything because of the time it took to get to the U of I and back.

During her speech, she started to talk about excuses. One quote that was spot on, “We’ve all been tired, but it’s an excuse to stand in front of your coach and say ‘It’s hard, I can’t.’ or ‘I’m tired I can’t do this anymore.'” She went on to say that in all of her training at the U of I, and later in Marquette, she would often find herself tired, but there was a sign on a wall that helped motivate her. It stated ‘For Every Rep You Take Off, Someone’s Getting Better Than You.’

Reutter grew up in Champaign, she’s lived majority of her life here. She went to Kenwood Elementary School, Franklin Middle School, and then Centennial High School. She learned to skate when she was around two to three years old. She learned to ice skate at age four. “All I really like to do on the ice,” said Reutter, “is go fast. I like to go fast.”

Reutter competed in all kinds of competitions in her younger years. She never went to a world championship quarterfinal. But when she was 16, Reutter made her first quarterfinal, and she won. It took roughly twelve years, but she finally won a championship. It would only be the beginning.

After high school, Reutter went to train in a Korean program located in the United States. “Basically, in speed skating, if you’re Asian, you’re good,” she claimed, “I wanted to be the best so I went there.” She continued to talk about goals. She says there are two things that help you achieve your goal, Set it, and plan it. Plan how you’re going to do what your goal is. “I’ve met a lot of people, including the president, and I can guarantee that they did not get there by accident.” She continued, “You control the person you’re going to be.”

Next she would talk about confidence. She says that “Confidence is a state of mind.” In talking about confidence, she told a story about her first world championship. She was in the quarterfinal, for the first time in her career, and she remembered to act confident. Even though she was scared and nervous, she perked up, walked straight, and acted confident as she passed her Asian competitor, the competitor then put her head in her hands as if she was already defeated. Reutter got second, which was good enough to move on, where she eventually won.

“Failure is where experience comes from.” Reutter worked with a coach who had an acronym for L.O.S.S. It stood for learning opportunity, stay strong. This acronym has been highly effective in Reutter’s life, as she has consistantly been beaten down, but has come back to win two Olympic medals, and numerous world championships.

“I’d say my best accomplishment was the race in Dresden, I learned what I was worth, especially even though I didn’t win, it was the best race I’ve ever had.” When asking her if she enjoyed junior competitions or the Olympics more, her response was not what was expected, “I’d say junior teams, they were so much more fun. Whereas in the Olympics, it’s all focus, you don’t really have a chance to relax.”

Reutter’s favorite memory from Centennial was her first homecoming, believe it or not. She said “It was the first time I actually felt the high school experience, and I really enjoyed it.” If there was something that Reutter could go back and do differently, it would “tell myself it would be easier to remember that everything is going to be okay, and not to worry so much.”