Kristin Seefeldt learned to ice skate as a child on frozen ponds in her Wisconsin hometown.
She reunited with the hobby in adulthood, practicing several days a week at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube and competing in local figure skating competitions.
Seefeldt, associate director for educational programs at Poverty Solutions at U-M and an associate professor of social work and public policy, said she treasures her time on the ice.
“I think for me, it’s just so different from what I do in my daily life,” she said. “It gets me out of a chair. It gets me doing things that I didn’t actually think I could ever do, like jumping and spinning. It’s allowed me to really push myself.”
Seefeldt worked at U-M as a researcher for 14 years and earned her master’s and doctorate degrees at the university. She then worked for two years on the faculty at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. After moving with her family back to Michigan in 2012, she decided to enroll in formal skating lessons to improve her skills.
“Once I started, I got hooked,” she said.
Seefeldt belongs to the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club and competes in the adult skating program run by U.S. Figure Skating, the national governing body of figure skating in the United States. The program is geared toward adults of all ages and abilities.
Seefeldt competes as a freestyle singles skater. She said her hardest move is a flip jump, which involves using the toe-pick on one skate to launch herself into an airborne twirl.
The competitions are much more laid-back than ones that involve athletes hoping to make it to the Olympics.
“It’s fun, it’s relaxed,” she said. “People are super supportive.”
Seefeldt most recently competed with a program set to the Rihanna song “Love on the Brain.” She was working with her coach on a new routine to the song “Milord” by French singer Edith Piaf when the coronavirus pandemic abruptly closed the Ann Arbor Ice Cube in March.
Prior to the pandemic, Seefeldt practiced four to five mornings a week before heading to campus. Now, she meets virtually with her coach once-a-week for off-ice training. She also participates in a strength and conditioning class her coach leads on Zoom.
Seefeldt said several other people affiliated with U-M, including a history professor, three doctors, a nurse, a data analyst and a project manager, also are actively involved in the sport. The skaters in her club range in age from their late 20s through their 50s.
“The fitness benefits are excellent,” Seefeldt said. “I think I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for the last 30 years. Things like balance and flexibility get more important the older you get. It’s kept me really flexible, and kept my balance on point.”
Seefeldt said she would encourage anyone who is thinking about taking up ice skating to give it a try.
“It’s a fun sport that is challenging, but also graceful,” she said, “and it’s a great way to meet a lot of new people.”
What is a memorable moment in the workplace that stands out?
Having a bat fly over my head when I was sitting at my desk (at the time my office was in one of those old houses on Huron Street, across from the Power Center).
What can’t you live without?
My partner, Greg, and my dog, Maizey.
Name your favorite spot on campus.
Crisler Center for basketball games.
What inspires you?
The students in the School of Social Work. Many of them are so passionate about creating change and working toward a more equitable society.
What are you currently reading?
“Black Reconstruction” by W.E.B. DuBois.
Who had the greatest influence on your career path?
Sheldon Danziger (retired Ford School faculty member).