When she was 2 years old, Brittany A. Bettendorf, MD, MFA, a rheumatologist at the University of Iowa (UI) Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, was introduced to figure skating by her mother, a national roller-skating champion and amateur figure skater.
“The first time I stepped on the ice, I loved it,” she says.
Dr. Bettendorf tells the story of how she and other young children showcased their budding talent at a local show by skating around the rink to music. When the music stopped, everyone skated off the ice, except for one child. You guessed right. Dr. Bettendorf had to be escorted off the ice.
Since then, many things have happened in Dr. Bettendorf ’s life that have led her to step away from ice skating, namely medical school, a demanding career and raising a young family. But two years ago, at the age of 36, Dr. Bettendorf worked her way back. Now anyone can watch her after work doing spins, jumps and fancy footwork at her local rink.
“I feel very fortunate and get a lot of satisfaction from what I’m able to do in my free time on the ice, and with my family and career,” she says. “It really makes me happy.”
When she was in grade and middle school, Dr. Bettendorf skated every day for about two hours before school. Ribbons, medals and trophies from local and regional competitions were on display in her bedroom.
But figure skating is an independent, and often lonely, sport. In her teens, Dr. Bettendorf swapped it for team sports that enabled her to spend more time with her friends.
Still, figure skating kept nagging her to return. In 2004, during her sophomore year at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., she worked with the athletic director and her motivated teammates to build the Northwestern University Synchronized Skating Team, which still exists today.
During that first year, when funds were scarce, Dr. Bettendorf ’s aunt and cousin came to the team’s rescue. Her aunt designed and sewed the team’s costumes, and her older cousin—also an amateur figure skater—coached the team.