By Katie Kiely
University of Vermont Open Collegiate
Between the hours of travel time each week, off ice warm-ups, endless stretches of time spent on the ice, and all of the consuming thoughts that flooded my mind about skating throughout my eleven year career as a synchronized skater, it is safe to say that there was a gaping void left in my life as I tried to move on once my skates were hung up. The first few months were seemingly easy, as I was distracted by the conclusion of my senior year of high school as well as moving out of my home for the first time that summer. I had not considered any college with any sort of established skating team, so the possibility was off my radar as I entered what would be the most difficult transition of my adolescence.
I can still vividly recall my first few weeks of college and how lost I felt with the endless free hours I faced. I found that the lack of structure I had in a day was hindering my studies and was giving me too much time to miss the pieces of my life I so desperately wanted back. I tried filling my days with various clubs and intramurals but nothing gave me that feeling of fulfillment that I was so lucky to have had for my entire childhood. Freshman year passed quickly, as each year seems to do, and I completed it with a strong GPA and very close friends. However, that feeling of emptiness I had felt in the beginning still lingered.
Sophomore year started on a much more positive note, living in a much better location with close friends all around me. I had known that a very beginner open collegiate team had attempted to form the previous year, so my two very close friends, who happened to be figure skaters as well, and myself decided to attend the first few practices to test it out. The beginning was rough, and so very different from the dynamics I was used to, but it felt amazing to be out on the ice for the first time in months. As the weeks turned into months, our basic program had really started taking shape and I was getting really close with my team members. The 6 AM practices never got easier, but other parts of my life started feeling more familiar to me once again. I had more structure in my days, I had another focus besides class work, and I had made several new friends. And although the team was at a much different level than my previous experience, some things remained constant; the long drives to competitions, doing hair and makeup all together, the locker room jitters. I am now the synchro chair for my open collegiate team; booking ice time for the season, researching and signing up for competitions, and recruiting new members, are all part of my job description. Our program is already underway, and we have six new members to add to the roster.
As I begin my junior year here at The University of Vermont, I can absolutely say I feel much more at home here, and the void I had once had from missing such a central part of my life, has been filled by a few different things. My life still isn’t as hectic as it once was, going from school to soccer, and straight to a four-hour skating practice several times a week. But between my demanding classes, a waitressing job, and of course synchronized skating, I am managing to fill each and everyday with activities I love to do. I’ve also learned to enjoy the downtime that I now do have in my life, because I’m sure it won’t be long until my life is just as crazy as it once was.