SAN ANTONIO — In the belly of the Ice & Golf Center at Northwoods, school is in session for a small group of students at the Coast to Coast Institute. Among the children are Kaden Galatiuk and Cadence Floyd.
"You come here, you skate. You do school," Coach Nick Apter said. "You go back to skate more."
Apter is a former world-class figure skating champion from Russia turned coach. He works with Galatiuk and Floyd.
"Everybody having a big dreams, but big dreams get accomplished with small steps," he said.
Apter drills Galatiuk on the fundamentals of skating. Better skating, better hockey player, they believe. The young hockey player, who started hockey when he was two, can't wait to get out of class to work on his game.
"I'm waiting for the ice time, and it feels like years for it to come," Galatiuk said."
The 11-year-old's mother, Tricia, is his teacher, and his father, Rob, a former hockey player, wants to position their son to become a professional athlete. It's his dream.
Galatiuk's day begins at 5 a.m. with an hour of practice before starting his day at school.
By 12:30 p.m., he's back on the ice practicing with Apter. That cycle continues until he goes home, where he has a rink in his backyard.
"I shoot a thousand pucks every day," he said. "So, I have my shot get better and better."
Puck handling and Galatiuk's shots are his strengths, he said. But Galatiuk said he's working on becoming faster and more explosive.
Galatiuk got the attention of sports networks in his garage-turned gym doing a hockey drill on a balance board. The video went viral.
He also got into the Guinness Book of World Records for most hockey stick touches on a balance board in one minute in Oct 2020. His record is 284 times.
"I do jumps and spins and a bunch of programs," Floyd said. "And, he works on a bunch of athletic training."
Floyd, who is Galatiuk's classmate, gets to tap into the champion figure skating side of Apter.
"It's more like a ballet on ice – if you can compare to this," he said.
Floyd's aunt took her ice skating when she was five. The figure skater said she couldn't leave the ice behind.
"So I kept on asking my mom if I could come here every day," Floyd said.
The nine-year-old hits the rink at 7:30 a.m. for practice before going to school. By the afternoon, Floyd gets back on the ice with Apter working toward her goal of being an Olympic skater.
"My biggest achievement in this competition is winning just the Nine State Championships two years in a row," she said.
Floyd won in 2020 and 2021 as a member of the Heart of Texas Figure Skating Club in the US Figure Skating South Nine States competition.
Apter said Floyd would continue to work on doing well in Texas. Then, they can begin a national campaign. The young figure skater said she was ready.
"Can't never could, but can – can," she said.
The athletes know the price to be the best on the ice comes with sacrifice, discipline and determination.
"I've learned that I still need to work harder and keep pushing and pushing," Galatiuk said.
Apter said the lessons come with a foundation that can get used on and off the ice.
"You fall down. It hurts. You get up, and you have to do it again," Apter said. "And you're going to fall down again."