Gracie Gold, who spent her early years in Springfield before moving away to train, earned a bronze medal in the Olympics figure skating team event this weekend. On Monday, four of her elementary school teachers talked about their former student, who is now 18 years old.
Before she graced the international stage with her golden performances, Gold was a student at Wilder Elementary School.
"She would get up and go to ice skating practice at 5 o’clock in the morning,” said physical education teacher Dianna Duncan-Atnip, "and go to school all day and turn around and go back."
The teachers form the unofficial Gracie Gold fan club. They’re Duncan-Atnip, who is also known as Coach D, Rosie Brown, Clarissa Slaten, and Charlotte Karr. They’ve been supporting the big-time star since the first day she laced up a pair of skates.
"She just was fast; she always skated fast," said Karr, “and she just would go after those moves and those jumps and spins with all she had."
A skater herself, Karr never missed a recital by Gracie and her twin sister, Carly, at Jordan Valley Ice Park.
"I just loved seeing her get out there and just smile all the time,” said Karr.
It's that same smile these teachers say they're now watching on the international stage in Sochi.
"She still looks like Gracie; she really, really does. You can still see the smile. You can still see her as a little third grader or fourth grader," said Brown.
They've all followed the skater's career for years, and say seeing Gracie compete at the Olympics makes them a bit emotional.
"Do you guys sort of feel like mamas, mama bears?” a reporter asked, prompting laughter from all of them, especially Coach D, who first taught Gracie how to juggle, a skill that the teenager demonstrated in January on NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
"That beautiful dress on Jay Leno, that was pretty fun for me. I’m pretty proud,” said Duncan-Atnip.
They're all proud of the very driven young lady, who is now an example for other students at Wilder.
"I just hope it will help them to see, if they believe in themselves and if they have a dream, it is possible to achieve,” said Slaten.
It's not just the teachers who are excited. All the students at Wilder seem to be rooting for Gold. What she's already accomplished gives them courage to go for their goals as well.