By Alice Tarantin
Starting a new team at a competitive level like collegiate does not happen with simple willpower and sheer luck. It takes time, commitment, persistence, and a tremendous amount of support.
The Chesapeake Captains started out with five people committed to skate collegiate. The minimum number of skaters to field a collegiate team is twelve, so we knew if we wanted the team to become a reality, we had to build from the ground up. This summer, the five of us scoured our brains and grilled our friends for possible college students in the area who would be interested. We hit a lot of dead ends, and I was constantly anxious and uncertain about the upcoming season. After a lot of no’s, even more maybes, and just enough yes’s, we began the season with twelve skaters. Within a month, we gained a skater, lost one, and gained yet another. At that rate, there was no way to tell what the next month would bring.
Through navigating this process I found out that skating on a collegiate team not directly affiliated with a college has some challenges. For example, because we are not funded by a university, the cost of the season is unsubsidized. For some skaters, this means personal financial responsibilities, and as we all know, skating is not a cheap sport. Because we pull skaters from a variety of colleges, the drive to practice is anywhere between ten minutes and an hour and a half. Therefore, some of us, myself included, dedicate our entire Sunday to synchro.
Luckily for us, we have an amazing and supportive organization to fall back on. In it’s 12 years Chesapeake Synchro has grown from one ISI team to six USFS teams. As the Captains begin their first season, skaters and parents from the other five teams have shown tremendous support and encouragement for our success. The program manager and treasurer at Chesapeake talk to us directly about our paperwork, which we have to handle ourselves. We have more adult responsibilities in addition to paperwork now that we’re skating at the collegiate level such as organizing our own meals at competitions. With all the new responsibilities it’s nice to know I can ask almost anyone involved with Chesapeake for help or advice.
Starting this team meant being able to skate with some of my best friends while I was away at college. It meant getting the chance to continue to work with my talented and creative coach. And best of all, it meant I could still be part of the giant family I call Chesapeake Synchro. Back in the spring when our coach first mentioned starting up a collegiate team, I didn’t get my hopes up too high. I had been skating on the intermediate team, and while seven of us did graduate, I didn’t expect to ever find enough people interested in collegiate. Now, when I look at my phone background and see 13 girls and one coach smiling back up at me, I know all the stress and uncertainty from starting this team has transformed into friendship and commitment.