By Kaity Vermillion
Seven years ago, a collegiate team was founded by a handful of skaters who just wanted to continue their favorite sport. Six years ago, that team became Team Excel Collegiate.
Four years ago, the Team Excel Scholarship Program was established. The scholarship program completely sponsored all collegiate skaters placed on the team. Two years ago, Team Excel expanded the program to add a fully sponsored senior team, so that even more skaters, including ones in high school and out of college, would have this opportunity.
Two years ago, I joined Team Excel Collegiate and discovered what all of this truly means.
Originally from New Jersey and a member of Precisely Right for eight years, I knew as high school drew to a close that I loved synchro, but I was not sure if my dream school would match up with my skating aspirations. Fortunately, I had heard of Team Excel and knew that it was an intercollegiate team. With hundreds of colleges and universities in the New England area to choose from, I narrowed down my options to four schools and sent in my applications. I ended up falling in love with Boston College, and in the fall of 2012, I moved away from my friends and family for the first time to attend BC.
The first month of college was a blur of unfamiliar faces and strange new environments. Everything was a bit scary and different—but within my first few days in Boston, I also had my first practice with Team Excel Collegiate. On the ice with my new teammates, everything felt familiar and right. My first home in Boston became the ice at The Skating Club of Boston. My first family here became my dedicated and welcoming teammates.
Besides the unfamiliarity, my first year of college was also characterized by a whirl of money leaving my bank account. Books, food, laundry, and of course tuition, all took a heavy toll on my wallet, but at Team Excel, my wallet was left untouched. I had heard that Collegiate and Senior were fully sponsored before I joined, but I was shocked and extremely grateful to become a beneficiary of all the costs that are covered. In my two, going on three, years on Team Excel, I have never had to pay for ice time. I have never had to pay for coaching, by our wonderful Junior World Team coach, Merita Mullen. I have never had to pay for dresses, clothing, travel, hotels, or even food at competitions. Even today, I am still in awe of the gift my teammates and I are given. Since each skater is fully sponsored, we are able to participate in the sport that we love despite the financial burden of higher education. I know that for myself and for many of my teammates, we would not be able to continue synchro without the Team Excel Scholarship Program.
I cannot imagine my life without synchro, without Team Excel. For the past two years, I have looked forward to every single practice—seeing my teammates is the highlight of my week, twice a week. As we come from all different colleges, I love hearing about everyone’s different experiences at school: Casey’s sailing class at University of Rhode Island, Alyssa’s physical therapy co-op at Northeastern University, Nikki’s lesson plans at University of Connecticut. I learn so much from them, on and off the ice.
My first year on Team Excel, we placed 4th at the 2013 National Championships, earning Team Excel and The Skating Club of Boston their first synchronized skating national medal. Last year, at the 2014 Nationals, we worked even harder to win a national silver medal. This year, we’ve embodied Team Excel’s new motto, “Skate Strong and Excel On,” at every practice, and debuted our Titanic-themed program to the crowd at the Boston Synchronized Skating Classic. We can’t believe the progress we have made in the past seven years, and we can’t wait to see where our dedication and love for skating will take us this season.