by Erin MacDonald-Behrend
It was March 1998 and I had just won the silver medal at the National Championships in San Diego with the Michigan State University Collegiate Precision Team. Yes, our beloved sport was known as precision when I was a senior in college. I thought that would be the last time I would step on the ice, something I had loved since the age of two.
Fast forward to 2014. I am still skating and still loving it as much as ever. As the competitive season has just wound down, many high school and college-aged young women may be contemplating the end of their synchronized skating careers. The good news for them is that there are still many years of skating ahead.
The world of adult-level synchronized skating has been an amazing part of my life since 2002. It has taken me to the top of our sport; I am a four-time national champion as an adult, in 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2014! However, skating as an adult has given me much more than medals; it has provided me with some of my most treasured friendships, the ability to travel around the United States, and it is proven to be an immense outlet for any stress that I have in my life.
My teammates on the Allegro! Masters Team are not only fierce competitors, but they are parents, engineers, chiropractors, genetic counselors, business owners, and many other noble professions. When we get the chance to spend an evening together for our weekly practices or a long weekend away at competitions, we have so much fun and are able to check out of our daily responsibilities and into our “synchro bubble,” as we like to call it. I teach high school English, and my time with my team allows me to put the mountains of essays and endless lesson plans on the back burner.
Synchronized skating has taken me from my home in the Detroit suburbs all over the country; from California to Maine, with stops to places like North Dakota and Iowa in between. While skating at the adult level may not allow us as many days off for competition due to our jobs, we still manage to get in as much sightseeing as we can with the little time we have away from the ice rink.
This year, we were fortunate to be champions in the Masters Division. It was a magical year where we placed first in each competition we entered. However, we know that the quality of all levels of synchronized skating keeps increasing each year. What is so special as an adult, is how kind and supportive all of the other teams are to one another. Yes, we all want to win, but we also understand that this is our escape from real life and we are so fortunate to be a part of this fantastic sport. It was so humbling hearing the well-wishes from our competitors while we were on the ice for the medal ceremony, and it was great being able to congratulate everyone else on their clean skates – which every team in the division had!
One never knows as an adult what the next competitive season holds, due to family commitments, job responsibilities, etc. I paused and took it all in out in Colorado Springs. I have many treasured mental pictures of our great practices, fun times off the ice, our fantastic competition skate, and the medal ceremony. I love my Allegro! family and the world of adult-level synchronized skating!