By Steffi Shenouda
I thought I knew everything about my teammates after spending nearly 20 hours a week at practice, but I realized there was a lot I could still learn about them off the ice.
Synchronized skating would be impossible without being able to trust the people we skate next to. Our footwork may be difficult and the formations complex, but there’s much more to the sport than a team executing the same footwork at the same time. We have to understand each other in order to truly click as a team. We get accustomed to the people who skate near us–how deep they ride their edges and how tightly they hold on, but there is still more to know about the person to the right and to the left of us. This can be attained through team bonding.
Through team bonding, my team learns each others’ quirks and what makes each person unique. We talk about last night’s “Pretty Little Liars” episode in the locker room before practice and help each other study for biology tests. We talk about your lives, or lack thereof, outside of skating, and rack up a million inside jokes.
We have gone on several team outings after practices. We went to a cider mill this fall, embarked on a shopping spree, and took a picture with Santa during the holidays. I do not think it is a coincidence that after a massive 24-hour bonding session complete with a sleepover, a viewing of Elf, and too many rounds of 10 fingers to count, that we were able to skate our first public debut—a breathtaking long program. It was one of the happiest moments of the season thus far, as we proved to our coach, our audience, and most importantly ourselves, that all our hard work at practice had paid off.
It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing for team bonding as long as your team is together and the skates are nowhere in sight. It will not be long before the conversation gets rolling and off-ice personalities begin to come out. You could learn who the chatterbox is, who has the best style, and whose new haircut went completely unnoticed. No matter what, the bonds you form will be evident when you take the ice–laughter will fill the air and cliques and misconceptions will fade away. A tip: for any team bonding activity, make sure to have plenty of snacks and orchestrate a few icebreakers! Because after all, practice makes you teammates, but bonding will make you friends.