The Statement--Students of the Year

Students of the year: Meryl Davis and Charlie White


Not many students can say they’ve won an Olympic medal before graduating college. But University students and ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis can.

After skating together since the age of five, Davis and White competed in the 2010 Olympic Winter games in Vancouver where they won the silver medal in the ice dancing competition.

Though they almost returned to campus with the gold — they scored 5.83 points less than the champions, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir — the two said they are thrilled with their performance.

“We put in so much time and effort over the 13 years we’ve been together,” White said. “To be able to skate so well at the Olympics and come away with a silver medal was very satisfying.”

But the road to Vancouver was not an easy one.

Besides their daily five hours of training, the two have had to balance homework, tests and papers while still finding time for their social lives. Davis admitted it’s challenging trying to have a normal college experience as a student and world-class athlete.

“We’ve made sacrifices in terms of not going to a birthday party on a Friday night or not being able to take all the classes you want to or not being able to graduate on time,” she said. “But in comparison to most other athletes at the Olympic level, we’ve been very fortunate.”

Davis added that she and White are part of a small group of Olympic figure skaters who have been able to attend school throughout their career.

“We’ve been making sacrifices, but nothing is really deterring us from our goal,” Davis said. “We’ve always, through our career, had that mindset that we knew we didn’t want to regret anything later on in life.”

Despite time constraints, both White and Davis participate in extra curricular activities outside of ice dancing. In high school, White played hockey and the violin, and Davis is currently a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority at the University.

“We were able to do a lot of things that so many figure skaters and Olympic athletes really just eliminate in an effort to make sure they’re getting the most out of themselves and their sport,” White said. “But really, it’s such a benefit to you as a person and probably helps you in your sport as well to be able to do different things and have different life experiences.”

While many professional skaters decide not to attend college to focus solely on their athletic careers, White said he always knew he would attend the University. As a boy, he would cheer on the Wolverines at the Big House with his dad every football Saturday.

“I was pretty much a Michigan maniac my whole life, and it was always a dream of mine to be able to come here,” White said.

Davis said she was set on attending a smaller school but knew if she wanted to keep skating with White, she would have to don the maize and blue.

“I decided I’d give Michigan a try, and I’m so glad I did,” Davis said. “It was the best decision in the world.”

After returning from Vancouver, the Olympians didn’t have much time to celebrate their win in Ann Arbor. White said it was “back to the grind” as they continued training for the World Championships in Italy, where the two compete this week.

Though Davis and White spend most of their time training off campus, both said the University community has recognized them for their achievements at the Winter Games.

White cited one instance at Zingerman’s Deli when a group of University students congratulated him, while Davis said she went to Good Time Charley’s for a friend’s birthday and people wouldn’t stop buying her drinks.

In addition to student recognition, the University Board of Regents honored the ice dancers with a framed commendation at their monthly meeting last week. During the meeting, President Mary Sue Coleman called for a recess to allow time for the regents to greet and take pictures with the athletes — and their medals.

Due to various public appearances, White and Davis said they have not yet chosen where they plan to display their medals.

At the time of the interview last week, White said he usually carries it for “safekeeping,” but believes he’ll showcase it in the library at his house in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — where he keeps all his medals. Davis said her medal was on her kitchen counter but that she wants to frame it and display it on a wall.

“Something besides tucking it away,” she said. “You know we don’t want to hide it. It’s something we should be proud of.”

When asked about their future goals, Davis said they’re not done skating, and the 2014 Winter Olympics Games are “definitely a possibility.”

“Going for gold again would be an amazing experience, and we haven’t ruled that out,” White said


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