Northwestern club figure skating is trying to stay in sync, even without a rink

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Courtesy of KrPhotogs

The Purple Line at the Synchro Illinois competition in January. Synchro Illinois is one of the two competitions the team competed in this winter.

Gabriela Carroll, Reporter

Northwestern’s club figure skating team faces an unusual set of circumstances, even during the pandemic. With indoor skating rinks closed for the foreseeable future, and Fall Quarter uncertain, Weinberg junior Gabi Boone worries for the club’s future.

“I’m graduating next year but I don’t want the team to dissolve,” said Boone, next year’s club president. “We’ve been a team since 2004, and I don’t want (COVID-19) to be the reason why this team falls apart, but if we don’t skate in the fall we might not get any new members. The ultimate goal is definitely to make sure we have an exec board next year so that the team can continue skating for years to come.”

The club skates twice a week at a rink off-campus in Evanston. The team competes in the winter, and hosts a showcase performance for the Northwestern community in Evanston in the spring that was canceled due to COVID-19.

The club, also called The Purple Line, is dedicated to synchronized skating, although most of its members come in with individual skating experience, according to Boone. Because of that, the team spends most of Fall Quarter teaching new members about synchronized skating, and only starts preparing for competition and exhibition choreography during Winter Quarter.

“We don’t know when we’re going to be able to start practicing,” Boone said. “A lot of the girls on our team right now weren’t (synchronized) skaters before college and they’re also still catching up because last year was a lot of the team’s first year. That’s going to make next year even harder and then people are definitely out of practice, since we haven’t been able to skate since March.”

This past year’s club president, McCormick junior Anatolia Syed, is optimistic about how much the club will be able to retain from this past season. She said the executive board is considering re-using last year’s competition program to make the transition easier.

The exhibition is the skaters’ opportunity to perform solo numbers and choreograph smaller group numbers. Syed said the team hadn’t yet learned most of their exhibition skates, which meant several newer team members lost out on the chance to continue to build their skills for the upcoming season, and Jessie Serody, the team’s lone senior, lost out on her final skate.

“I didn’t really realize that it was our last time until it was already over,” the Weinberg senior said. “The decision by the school was kind of abrupt.”

Syed said one of the toughest parts of the pandemic is not having the escape from school that figure skating provided. Indoor skating rinks are closed, and she said online contact isn’t as reliable or fulfilling as in-person practice. Without the consistent, twice-a-week practices, Syed doesn’t see her teammates as often as she would on campus.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the fall, Boone and the rest of the 2020-21 executive board are hoping to keep the team bonded and are creating plans to recruit new members. She said she hopes that even if they can’t skate in the fall, the team can continue to meet regularly to keep team spirits and involvement up.

The club gains most of its new members through the annual student organizations fair, according to Boone. If it can’t happen in the fall, she said they plan to utilize social media and a more robust winter recruiting period to help draw in new students.

Boone hopes the team will be able to skate together again soon, but said it’s frustrating to deal with so many unknown variables. Between not knowing whether students can return to campus in the fall, whether club sports can resume if they do, or whether indoor rinks will open, Boone said the club is planning for many different scenarios.

“A lot of it isn’t really up to the team,” Boone said. “A lot of it is up to the school, whether or not the school lets us do the things that we would like to do. So that’s ultimately what it comes down to. It’s sort of out of our hands, which is very frustrating.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @gablcarroll

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