NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans Cheerleader Molly loves to put on a good show.
It started at an early age when she was merely a toddler on the ice, seeking approval from the crowd. The only problem was that it was during a youth-league hockey game while the puck was at the other end of the playing surface.
Molly’s parents took the hint that she was less inclined than her older brothers to play hockey. The New Hampshire native and daughter of a hockey coach, however, applied herself fully at figure skating.
Molly’s talents enabled her to represent the United States in prestigious competitions across the globe, appear on the British hit television show Dancing on Ice and even become a character in a Wii video game.
Her passion for the sport began on frozen ponds with much less fanfare and quickly accelerated with her first competition at Lake Placid, host of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, in 1988. It could have been intimidating for a child to compete in such a venue, but Molly found it to be inspiring.
“Lake Placid did it all for me,” Molly said. “I thought I was in the Olympics in my very first competition, so I was hooked instantly of course. That was amazing. I had just started out so I couldn’t do a whole lot yet. I could do one or two jumps but that was it.”
Molly’s ambitions and achievements continued. Four years later, when she was 12, she trained in the same facility Massachusetts where Nancy Kerrigan and Paul Wylie were training for the 1992 Olympics.
Molly’s family moved to Virginia Beach the following year when her father’s job changed. It made it more difficult to train at the level she wanted, so she went back to Massachusetts the first summer and to the University of Delaware the next summer, where Tara Lipinski was also training.
Fate took hold of Molly’s future at a competition in Knoxville in 1995 when she met Bert Cording, who said he was moving to Nashville and encouraged her to consider doing the same because of the need for partners in pairs skating. She tried out that spring and moved to the area without her parents that summer. She lived with her coaches: Bill Fauver, a former Olympian, and his wife Laura Sanders until Molly’s mother moved to Nashville for her junior year at Hillwood High School.
Molly kept skating in senior ladies and in senior pairs competitions with Cording, and the duo blossomed. They made the U.S. Figure Skating Team and competed for America in international competitions where they placed second in Zagreb, Croatia, and fourth (in 2001) and sixth (in 2002) at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Obertsdorf, Germany.
They also competed in U.S. Nationals each year and placed eighth, which landed Molly and Bert as fifth alternates for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
“I like to say we got as close as we could get without going,” Molly said with a laugh.
Molly is one of a handful of people who competed at a high level in singles and pairs and found herself in elite company at a singles competition before the Olympics.
“I skated after Michelle Kwan and before Sarah Hughes, and a month later, Sarah Hughes wins the Olympics,” Molly said. “I remember having to wait in my warm-up until they cleaned up all the goodies that people throw on the ice.”
Waiting on ice for the flowers, stuffed animals and good-luck charms to be picked up by ice attendants is a memory that’s gained significance with time because its significance has become more clear.
“I’ve gotten to work with and skate along so many of my idols, so that’s just been — I’m completely blessed,” Molly said. “For not being a big dog, I got to run with them.”
Molly decided to become a professional skater in 2003, working for traveling shows and performing at theme parks and on cruise ships. She also became an Ice Girl for several seasons with the Nashville Predators and began teaching and coaching, which she continues to do at A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin.
Molly decided she wanted a new challenge in 2011 and auditioned for and made the Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders.
Cheerleaders coach Stacie Kinder said Molly has been a great addition to the squad because she delivers a high level at every practice and performance.
“The Titans Cheerleaders are so fortunate to have a talent like Molly grace our team,” Kinder said. “Having an elite-level athlete join our group elevates the rest of us. Molly’s work ethic, her professionalism, her experience, all of it shines through in all that she does, and it makes all our other team members strive for excellence.”
Molly has enjoyed the camaraderie with her teammates and the way that being a professional cheerleader filled the void she missed by no longer being a competitive skater. She said she’s been blessed by the experiences she’s had and the opportunity to stay connected with the ice by teaching skating lessons and coaching hockey.
“I’m in transition,” Molly said. “I’ve gone from the hard work, crazy, I don’t know how I’m getting up every morning and doing this daily grind to ‘Wow, I get paid to do this.’ ”
Beyond that, skating remains one of Molly’s favorite forms of artistic expression.
“The ice is my canvas,” Molly said. “I love to express my emotion, and it is like a therapeutic release for me sometimes, and I think if you’re having a bad day, you just go out there and get away from it all. Where some people blast the radio in their car, I go and play. I like to say the ice is my canvas, the blades are my brush, the movement is the color on my frozen stage.”