- Written by Lynda Hudzick Lynda Hudzick
It all started because of her sister.
“She was upset when I went to kindergarten, so my mom enrolled her in skating lessons,” Cindy Ginkinger Mulholland said. “Of course, then I wanted to do that too, so that’s where it all began.”
What started out as a whim born of sisterly jealousy has now turned into a lifelong love of ice skating for this Harrisburg resident.
“Skating just gets in your blood,” she said.
Ginkinger Mulholland recalls that she became serious about competitive skating when she was about 7 years old after a skating instructor took an interest in her and her natural talent.
“My mom allowed me to take two 15-minute lessons a week,” she said. “Very little compared to the kids these days. But anyway, I was then off to the races!”
Early on, she participated in both dance and freestyle competitive skating, but soon it became evident there was only time for one, so she chose freestyle.
Ginkinger Mulholland gives a lot of the credit for her success to “a really good teacher, Maude White. She guided me, my sister, and my mom through the ropes,” she said.
The commitment for competitive skating, as with any sport in which an athlete wishes to excel, is a big one. Those initial 15-minute lessons turned into many hours on the ice, honing her skills every day before and after school.
“Not to mention before church on Sundays,” Ginkinger Mulholland said. “Summers were also spent at the rink for an all-day camp, and I also did ballet for off-ice training, working on posture, grace, and flexibility.”
That may seem like too much to handle for a young girl, but “not for me,” this natural athlete said. “I loved it and wanted to do it. I was also lucky to be able to play field hockey and lacrosse after school.” She also tried the piano, violin, and guitar in her “spare” time.
“To be a successful competitor, you really have to excel in all the avenues of skating,” Ginkinger Mulholland said. “You probably have heard about skaters getting up in the wee hours of the morning or skating late into the night? That’s because they have to! The only way to get really good is ice time, ice time, ice time.”
Her talent and dedication to the sport helped her make it to sectionals every year, except for her last year as a senior, due to injury. Each time she competed, she placed among the top nine skaters participating in Eastern Sectionals.
“Sectionals is comprised of the competitors who qualify by placing in the top three of their respective regional competitions,” Ginkinger Mulholland explained. “I never made it to … nationals, but I’m still happy with my success.”
After high school graduation, Ginkinger Mulholland decided that “college was the way to go,” so she stopped skating competitively and headed to Penn State, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education.
“I decided to start teaching ice skating as opposed to teaching in a school setting,” she said.
Enjoying a successful and rewarding career throughout her young adulthood, Ginkinger Mulholland didn’t marry until she was 50, and said that for her, that is proof that you never give up hope because you don’t know what’s around the corner.
“I ended up marrying a good friend of mine who I had known for over 20 years,” she said. And as for her unusual middle name?
“My maiden name was Ginkinger, and I didn’t want to lose that name, as that was the only name all of my skating cohorts knew me by. So I decided to make it my middle name.”
Today, Ginkinger Mulholland teaches at Twin Ponds Ice Rink at the Hershey Arena and at the Giant Center. It’s something that she finds very rewarding, and of course it helps that she understands the skating world so completely, having been immersed in it for much of her life.
“My teaching philosophy is simple,” she said. “I believe in building a strong foundation. It really doesn’t matter what the long-term goals of the students are. If you build the foundation correctly, the rest will fall in line.”
The bottom line, no matter whether a new student wants to pursue figure skating or play hockey, is that they have to learn to skate. There are many options, from private lessons to group lessons or clinics, but Ginkinger Mulholland does believe that “if you can find a quality teacher, you will be better off,” she said. “Not all teachers are created equal.
“Competitive skating is weird — any skater will tell you that,” Ginkinger Mulholland explained. “Choreography is a collaborative event. In my day, it was usually just the student and coach, but now kids might have more than one coach, one just for choreography.”
Ginkinger Mulholland works with students of all ages, from 3 years old up through adults, and she does teach both figure skating and skating for ice hockey.
“All of them are rewarding in their own way,” she said. “But basically the chance to see any student progress and reach their own individual dreams is what makes it rewarding to me.”
Although it might seem like a sport for the younger crowd, Ginkinger Mulholland said that “it actually is a lifetime sport; you can do it at all levels and ages.”
Many retirees enjoy the sport and often skate during the day.
“It’s less crowded, and the comradery is fantastic,” she said. “It can be a low-impact sport, so muscle injury is rare.”
Of course, any adult student can always go further and push themselves to higher heights if the desire is there.
“There are many teachers who would love to help adults improve, no matter what level they are at,” she said.
Just as important as learning the physical skills needed to be a safe and successful skater are the lessons learned in other ways that can be applied off the ice, Ginkinger Mulholland believes.
“Skating teaches poise and self-confidence,” she said. “Just think, these kids go out and skate in front of an audience all by themselves. It teaches them how to use their time wisely … for example, get their homework done so they can skate.”
Learning to respect others both on and off the ice is an important lesson as well, Mulholland said.
“They have to talk and listen to judges … they learn to win and sometimes, more importantly, how to lose gracefully. The life lessons are immeasurable.”
Ginkinger Mulholland boasts a long list of students with success stories that she is proud to have helped write.
“I have students that have gone on to teach skating themselves,” she said. “They have also become schoolteachers, pharmacists, Eagles cheerleaders, mothers, and fathers … too many paths to mention. I firmly believe skating helped them each and every one.”