Synchronized Skating Magazine (see right) has a great article (not available online) written by Brenda Hasse and Jean MacLeod about the growth in collegiate and open collegiate synchronized skating. Who knew that there were so many synchro teams out there for high school seniors to consider? Of course, the #1 reason to attend a school is for the education and how the school will prepare you for life after graduation. But, if a school also offers collegiate synchronized skating as a component of a student's life on campus, how great is that! And the article emphasizes that not everyone needs to have competed at the highest level.
I was interested to learn that there are two levels of college skating sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating:
- COLLEGIATE: A team of 12-20 skaters, who have passed the juvenile moves in the field test. Teams may participate in intercollegiate and non-qualifying competitions. Teams can compete at Sectionals (Eastern, Midwestern or Pacific) and may advance to the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. (For the 2008-2009 season, the Synchro Nationals will be held in Portland, Maine, from March 3, 2009 - March 7, 2009. Click here for more dates.) This level is judged under the IJS system.
- OPEN COLLEGIATE: A team of 8-16 skaters. Teams may participate in intercollegiate and non-qualifying competitions, and may advance to Sectionals. This level is judged under the 6.0 system.
Currently, there are only two universities who offer synchro as a fully-funded varsity sport: Miami University of Ohio and Adrian College (in Michigan). Being fully-funded is important because it translates into money for training, travel and competition. The article noted that U.S. Figure Skating is working with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to make synchronized skating an "emerging women's sport" and to give collegiate synchro full NCAA status. This designation means scholarships, grants and a higher level of recognition for the sport and its athletes.
The article profiles nine colleges and their synchro teams, and provides information on annual tuition, annual cost to be part of the synchro team, skating test requirements, team rituals, and other interesting items. There are approximately 36 collegiate and open collegiate teams in the U.S., so the nine mentioned just touch upon the many programs out there. The schools profiled are:
- Adrian College (varsity funded open collegiate), Adrian, Michigan
- Western Michigan University (senior and collegiate), Kalamazoo, Michigan
- Miami University (varsity funded senior/collegiate/junior...and introducing Miami open collegiate), Oxford, Ohio
- University of Wisconsin-Madison (collegiate), Madison, Wisconsin
- Oakland University (open collegiate), Rochester, Michigan
- Princeton University (open collegiate), Princeton, New Jersey
- University of Delaware (collegiate), Newark, Delaware
- University of Colorado (open collegiate), Beautiful Boulder, Colorado
- Michigan State University (collegiate), East Lansing, Michigan
From reading the article, what I was most impressed by was the absolute commitment of the student skaters. They are part of the team because they want to be. Although there may be a faculty adviser and/or coach, for the most part, the students run the organization on many levels, from practices to competitions to costumes. Kaitien Boucher of the Princeton open collegiate team said it the best:
Our team is almost entirely student run - from our practices to arranging competitions, we do it all ourselves. There is a definite bond that forms among us when there is no one outside of the team managing us, and we have to learn to trust, rely on, and depend on each other. Skating may or may not be our future, but while we're involved in it now, we come together and take what we've got to turn it into our absolute best. We may not have the experience and background of other teams, but we will always rise to the challenge!
This issue of Synchronized Skating Magazine is a great resource if you're looking for an overview of collegiate synchro. (You can also purchase this issue individually.) The authors also recommend the U.S. Figure Skating's Collegiate Team Handbook and U.S. Figure Skating's directory of synchro skating teams for further information. So all you high school juniors and seniors out there - look beyond the "party school" designation! You know who you are...:)
(photo below, the 2007-2008 Princeton open collegiate team, from left to right: Kaitien Boucher, Sharon Goswami, Eve Hanson, Noelle Vinson, Lizzie Cruikshank, Aditi Vasan, Julie Steinberg and Cai Yang)