By Ashleigh Renard
We all know that participation in Synchronized Skating requires a lot…a lot of time, money, commitment, cooperation, patience, and determination. How can we, as directors and coaches, give our skaters more for their investment? That was the question Kati Link (Skating Director at Hatfield Ice) and I asked ourselves when we sat down to meet in early February. We were operating two separate Synchro organizations, Team Liberty (est. 2007) and Philadelphia Symmetry (est. 2004). We wanted to give our skaters the greatest possible opportunity for success and joining forces was clearly the way to do that.
The successful Learn-to-Skate program that Kati had developed at Hatfield Ice fed Team Liberty and they were able to field multiple Beginner and non-qualifying teams every season. Philadelphia Symmetry was started with an Open Juvenile team in an effort to rebuild figure skating at Wissahickon Skating Club. Philadelphia Symmetry grew and eventually sent 5 teams to Nationals in 4 years (2011-2015) but without a large feeder program was unable to have sustainable competitive success.
The skaters, parents, and coaches in both programs were giving their all, but we needed to share our resources in order to give the skaters a truly great Synchro experience.
Kati and I were easily able to work out the details of the merger and quickly gained support from our rinks. We already had much overlap of families – skaters who had started at Team Liberty and were now competing for Philadelphia Symmetry and Symmetry skaters who practiced at Hatfield individually. Everyone could clearly see that competing together, under the same name, using the ice time available at both of our rinks, would benefit the skaters immensely.
Together, we are able to give the skaters more than ever before, more balanced teams, more practice time (1x/week for Beginners, 2x/week for Preliminary and Pre-Juvenile, 3x/week for Juvenile, Intermediate, and Novice), more coaches (including World Champions Jannika Lilja from Marigold Ice Unity and Lee Chandler from NEXXICE), and more diversity in their training, such as Mindful Communication, meditation, visualization, theatre training, and strength and conditioning.
As with any new venture, this merger has required countless hours of time and attention from all the individuals involved. Special thanks to our outstanding team manager, Jill McGee, who embraced this opportunity with her characteristic enthusiasm! We can see that all the hard work is worth it, in the skaters’ smiling, flushed faces after a hard practice and in the joy of seeing new friendships forming every day. Unity is Strength!
Philadelphia Symmetry 2015-2016
Teams: B2 Purple, B2 Silver, B2 WSC, Preliminary, Pre-Juvenile, Juvenile, Intermediate, Novice
Directors: Kati Link and Ashleigh Renard
Coaches: Lori Kametz, Jannika Lilja, Victoria Lyons, Danielle Niblick, Logan Renard-Randazzo, Aggie Richhart
Guest Coach: Lee Chandler
Team Manager: Jill McGee