Cate Fleming and Jedidiah “Dia” Isbell met at The Skating Club of Boston when both were at a crossroads in their skating journeys. Dia began skating in Ukraine in both singles and pairs at eight years old, and, with moving back to the States, had come to The Skating Club of Boston looking for a high-level training facility.
After a successful tryout with pair’s coaches Fred Palascak and Melanie Lambert, Dia was happy to begin skating pairs again with his new partner Cate. Cate had recently started pairs skating, but she no longer had a partner. So, when Dia’s strong skating technique and focus caught the eye of Cate’s mom, Rachel, she decided to find out more.
Turns out her instinct for matching the two young talents was spot on. Today the pair are four-time U.S. Championships medalists and are the alternates for the United States at the 2020 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.
That honor is just the latest achievement in a pairs career that includes winning a bronze medal in 2018 at their first international competition. This year they competed in their sixth U.S. Championship. Their third-place finish in the 2019 National Qualifying Series qualified them to compete at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, and bring home a silver medal in the team event. “We hadn’t expected that, but when the chance came, of course, we wanted to go,” says Cate, 14.
Both Cate and Dia have been sustained in their pursuit of excellence by a dream to achieve their highest potential as pair skaters. It is a dream that takes momentum from their natural gifts, a love of skating, the support of the Club community, and their genuine friendship.
“With pairs, it can take years to get your timing right,” says Dia, 18. “But with practice comes improvement and not just in timing, but also in how well you communicate and relate to each other.”
Both skaters enjoy strong family support, but both Rachel, and Dia’s mom, Margaret, credit the Club with giving them the highest quality opportunity to learn and grow. Rachel signed Cate up for private lessons at age three after being pleasantly surprised to learn that it was even possible.
“That is a hallmark of a very fine club,” she says. “When you have people who are nurturing and willing to coach a child as soon as they can stand up on the ice, you know they are aiming to create champions.”
Margaret is thankful that she discovered the Club in 2014, shortly after the family had returned to the United States after years of living and working in Ukraine.
“We walked in and I knew that it was the place where my sons would continue to excel in their skills, passion and love for skating, and a place that would help them reach the big goals they had already set for themselves.
Dia recalls that positive first impression. “It was the first time I had stepped into a high-level training arena,” he says. “It was really exciting to see older, elite skaters right there; they helped me see where I wanted to be.”
Both families are naturally eager to make full use of the Club’s new home in Norwood, set to open this summer.
“I am very excited by the facility; it will bring together everything the kids need to excel,” says Margaret. “We’re still in touch with Dia’s coach in Ukraine. He prepared Dia very well, and he is very excited about Dia’s accomplishments so far and the possibilities in the future.
Rachel, acknowledging an “amazing roster of coaches” who have supported Dia and Cate, is “looking forward to a robust training facility” with on-site medical and off-ice training facilities. Recognizing and accommodating that need “speaks to the vision of the Club to support everybody. That’s a real game-changer,” she says.
Another quality that Rachel will personally make sure continues at Norwood is the Club’s welcoming culture – one infused with warmth and friendliness that aligns with her own philosophy.
“If I see a new person I walk up and say hello,” she says. “Parents always need support, and the kids always have somebody up ahead, mentoring them. It’s the Club’s way of saying that there is no cap on what you can do.”
As for Cate and Dia, they certainly see no limits and are aiming for the Winter Olympics 2026. Both share an implicit trust in each other’s ability to focus and prepare for that demanding journey. “Skating has always been there for me,” Cate says, “and with Dia, it’s brought some amazing opportunities at the highest levels of the sport. We both love a challenge, and we have become good friends too; we both want to do our best. We’ll just keep working hard!”
And Dia may well speak for both when he shares that his skating career always has been defined by taking on the challenge of making the difficult look easy.
“Skating is the thing in my life that’s brought me the most joy,” Dia says. “It’s also caused me to work through some difficult things and to develop in physical and emotional ways that benefit my whole life. I’m constantly thankful to the sport and the Club for how they have helped me as a person.”