Meryl and Charlie visit Roeper School

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Detroit's ice dancers still greeted with cheers months after gold medal win

Meryl Davis, Charlie White taking time to visit schools, hospitals now that they're no longer training for Olympics

Published On: Sep 22 2014 02:51:41 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 22 2014 05:51:17 PM EDT
When Charlie White was not on the ice as a child, he was attendingRoeper School in Bloomfield Hills.
Monday, the school that meant so much to him growing up welcomed him home.
Roeper School had a special assembly with White and his ice dance partner Meryl Davis as the guests of honor.   
"It's such a family.  It's amazing," said White.  "Just getting a chance to talk to all of these kids was really special."
The two talked to the students about chasing their dreams and pursuing their goals.  White told them that part of who he is and his success has to do with his time at Roeper School.
Davis and White made history in February when they became the first American ice dance team to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.
The duo have been skating together for nearly 18 years and have always trained in Detroit.  Since returning home, they have taken time to stop at area schools and hospitals to meet with children, talk to them and show off their gold medals.
"When we were training for the Olympics, I think that we were so focused on sort of the task at hand, that we didn't necessarily get the opportunity to do that, so now that we do have a bit of time to do that, go to children's hospitals, have the opportunity to show and you know put a smile on a kid's face is really what brightens our day at this point," said Davis.   "We feel as though we certainly didn't achieve something like this alone, it was the community, it was the people who supported us and so to be able to share that with them especially the people who need that extra little something to smile during their day is really special for us."
Being good role models is important to both Davis and White.
"I think being good role models and encouraging people to follow their dreams and be true to themselves is really what we're most passionate about at this point," said Davis.
"We were very fortunate to have, you know, our parents as great role models other ice skaters really step up and take us under our wing and we just felt that had such an impact on our lives and how confidant we were in ourselves so we always kind of just want to make kids more confidant and believe in themselves," said White.
Roeper school presented Davis and White with alumni jackets and made Davis an honorary member of the school.   Teachers who taught White during his time at Roeper also came forward to give him a special greeting.
What Are They Doing Now?
While they are not currently competing, Davis and White are still skating together, performing in several shows this fall and over the winter.   
"We were so sort of one-track minded for kind of the four years leading into our second Olympic games and so know trying to balance things and not being focused on training all the time is a very different approach but we're having fun," Davis said.
"It's weird going back to the rink and kind of preparing all these things and having a totally different mind set but we're enjoying ourselves," White said.
Davis has started taking classes at the University of Michigan again.   Both White and Davis are students at U of M.
White told Local 4 that he and fiancee Tanith Belbin have set a wedding date.   The two will marry in Michigan in late April 2015.

Good Morning America-Chicago

Meryl Davis on Good Morning America LIVE 9-9-14. by stepsdance

William Beaumont visit

U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White visited kids at Royal Oak Beaumont on Wednesday. Photo by Aftab Borka 
When 10-year-old Talia Agee of Farmington Hills had her hospital room door knocked on Wednesday afternoon at Royal Oak Beaumont, she had unexpected visitors: first everU.S. Olympic Ice Dancing Gold Medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
“Her mom said she hadn’t really smiled today before we came in. So that certainly makes our day,” Davis said talking about how important this visit for the duo who were born at the same hospital. “Getting a chance to brighten someone’s day when they might be going through a tough time. I think that’s one of the coolest experiences you can have.”
Davis and While, who also appeared on Dancing With The Stars show, said they have been so focused on the Olympics and training that they never got an opportunity to do something like in a long time.
“It’s a good reminder how important health is and at the same time how important it is to support those who aren’t feeling their best,” said White.
The duo visited over a dozen random young people who were being treated at the hospital for different illnesses.
Max Joelson, 15, of Birmingham was so excited to meet them that he wanted to take a selfie with the celebrities.
“My friends are gonna think I am more sick than I actually am,” Joelson said after taking the picture.

Detroit tigers first pitch

How to Balance Being a Sports Parent

How to Balance Being a Sports Parent

Raising an exceptional athlete brings highs, lows and lots of windshield time. Four local moms share their stories and experiences.

How to Balance Being a Sports Parent
Headlines are filled with stories of crazy sports parents who push their kids to the breaking point and lose all perspective.
But for a parent whose child is dedicated to a sport – and maybe even darn good at it – how do you tow the line between supporting your child's athletic ability and not going overboard? How do you NOT become one of those nutjobs that takes all of the joy out of your child's passion? And how do you balance the demands of having a star athlete with the daily realities of everyday life?
Here, four moms behind high-level area athletes tell us about the demands of their child's athletics as well as the benefits reaped from the time, cost and commitment required for their child to excel. They share the good, the bad and the ugly about bringing up a champion.

Cheryl Davis

Hometown: West Bloomfield
Kids: Olympic ice dancing champion Meryl Davis and Clayton Davis
Sports Truism: "Believe in yourself. Have faith. Keep your head up."
Cheryl Davis of West Bloomfield thinks that her daughter Meryl is perhaps better known for her recent Dancing With the Stars Season 18 win than her ice dancing Olympic gold medal. Either way, she considers her daughter's recent accomplishments surreal – not to mention a long time coming. Meryl, 27, first hit the ice at age 3 on the lake on which her family lived.
"It would freeze over, and the whole family would go out and ice skate," Cheryl recalls. "She loved it. She loves the cold."
By 5 Meryl was taking private lessons, and by age 8 she was competing regularly as a single. "When she met Charlie (White) and made the switch to ice dancing, that's when she really got serious about skating," Cheryl recalls.
By the time she was in middle school, Meryl was practicing every day after school and on Saturday. It was a challenging schedule, but one that worked for her.
"She's a very active person," Cheryl notes. "She paces when she's not skating."
As Meryl and Charlie progressed in their sport, the travel demands increased to the point where she missed seven to 10 days of school each month during the season, which runs from October through March.
"She had to be very detail oriented," Cheryl says. "She asked a ton of questions and made up any assignments she missed."
Despite her demanding training and travel schedule, Meryl still maintained an active social life.
"We encouraged her to go to parties and to be involved in school activities like the talent show and to attend her prom," Cheryl says. "We knew the importance of her being part of a group."
To make sure her younger son Clayton didn't feel like he was living in his sister's shadow, Cheryl made extra efforts to spend time with him. And when mother and daughter traveled for competitions, Cheryl's husband Paul used their time away to plan some extra father-son time.
"Clayton and his dad had bonding time," she explains. "They ate out. They skied together. It was special time for them."
Upon reflection, Cheryl thinks that her son, while younger than Meryl by three years, is perhaps wiser than his famous sister.
"She is bright, but ice skaters live like moles," she says. "He has more everyday experience."
A new challenge for Cheryl will be helping her daughter acclimate to life after the Olympics.
"I think it's more difficult for Meryl now than for me," Cheryl admits. "I still have the life I've always had. Meryl has been so scheduled since she was little. It was all day, every day. Now what? She has so much energy."
Meryl will continue to support her daughter as she finishes her degree at the University of Michigan, where she is majoring in anthropology, and in whatever professional endeavors she next tackles. She's confident the lessons a life on the ice have afforded her will help her on her way.
"This sport has taught our kids that disappointment is part of the journey," Cheryl notes. "It has taught them to believe in themselves, to have faith and to never give up."

Jacqui White

Hometown: Bloomfield Hills
Kids: Olympic ice dancing champion Charlie White and Jason White; stepdaughters Lindsay, Stephanie and Emily
Sports Truism: "You learn as much from failure as from success."
For many high-performance athletes, the pinnacle of their endeavors is an Olympic gold medal. It's a feat to which few can lay claim. But for local ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, it was a dream realized when they skated near perfect performances at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and earned top honors.
Jacqui White of Bloomfield Hills is one of the moms behind the medal – the chauffeur, financier and confidante who knows well the glamorous and unglamorous aspects of raising a champion. Charlie first hit the ice at age 3 when Jacqui and her husband, Charlie Sr., were looking for a family activity to do with their son and his four older siblings.
"He really liked it," recalls Jacqui, who herself grew up ice skating on the canals of Belle Isle. "So I signed him up for a mom-and-tot ice skating class at the rink in Berkley. The sole goal of the class was for each child to learn how to get up by him or herself after falling down." When the rink closed for the summer, Charlie was still itching to hit the ice. Jacqui came upon a flier for the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Township.
"I discovered then that we had a world-renowned skating club in our area," she says.
She enrolled Charlie in a learn-to-skate program, and he never looked back. By age 8, Charlie was playing travel hockey and competing in ice dance with his partner Meryl.
"We had no idea when we started him in ice skating lessons that he would compete at nationals or the Olympics. We were just looking for something fun and recreational."
Unlike many competitive ice skaters, Charlie attended school full-time while training. When competitions required out-of-town travel, Jacqui and Charlie would meet with his teachers to discuss how he could keep up with his studies from the road. "Thank God he was born in the computer age. He was able to submit many papers online."
School was always the priority. "Meryl's parents were on the same page, thankfully," Jacqui notes. "We saw how many people lost perspective. We didn't want that to happen. We didn't want ice skating to take over."
Charlie always maintained an active social life in addition to skating, school and violin lessons. And at times, it did cause him stress.
"He and I had many conversations. I was checking for cracks in the egg that it might be too much. I'd remind him that it was his life. He got to call the shots. He knew he never had to do something to make us happy. I certainly had plenty of other work to do!"
When in 2006, fellow ice dancers Ben Agosto and Tanith Belbin competed at the Winter Olympics, Charlie and Meryl felt they had what it takes to shoot for that same goal.
"They thought, 'If they can do it, we can do it,'" White recalls. "Charlie and Meryl felt they were moving in on Ben and Tanith's skill level."
Still, the road to the Olympics is not easy, and disappointments were not uncommon.
"Thankfully Charlie is a really positive person," White says. "You almost have to be. It's a very unforgiving sport. You're as good as your last competition. You'll give up if you're too hard on yourself."
Instead, Jacqui encouraged Charlie to use disappointment as an opportunity to learn, and the lessons paid off. In February, Jacqui saw her son reach his lifelong goal.
"There are no words invented for the feeling of seeing your son win an Olympic medal," she says. "I can still see their faces when they finished their programs. That image will resonate in my heart for the rest of my life. It's a glorious feeling of happiness. They put their heart and soul into this."
The lessons ice skating has taught her son, family and herself are many.