Monday, December 26, 2011

Porter 2011 Crystallettes

The Crystallette teams did well at the Porter competition that is annually held on the first weekend in December. My beginner 2 team that I coach won first place and my Open Juvenile team placed third! It was a proud weekend for me as a coach. I have to admit that it is harder to be a coach than a skater because, as you are standing at the side watching the program that you choreographed, you are shaking due to the nerves. When I skate I feel like I control my movements, when I am watching my teams I have no control; it is up to them. After my two teams were done competing it was time for me to focus on my competition skating with the senior team. We had two great official practices and skated a fun short and a sassy long. We ended up placing second in short with a score of 58.33 and our overall place was third with a final score of 163.93. Unfortunately, we gave away all of the points for our no hold step sequence because not all of our skaters in the back line crossed the goal line. They were inches away. In the words of Vince Lombardi, “inches make the champion.” I am confident that we will learn from that mistake.

We were proud of our skate. Our short score was higher than at Kalamazoo. Our goal is to improve our score at each competition and so far we have done that. We had an absolute blast performing our short program to “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. It is fun and energetic and the crowd was responding very positively to our program. We were very proud of our skate. However, we knew that it was now time to direct our focus to our long program. Our long program is choreographed to Latin music and is a very upbeat, dance number. It was the first competition that we performed our long program and we skated it nicely. Overall, it was a good weekend for the Crystallettes and all of our teams were happy with the results they received.

Of course, there were elements that we could have improved, but we look at Porter as a report card. We learn about what we have to fix and we work hard to get it done. Since Porter, we have made many changes to our programs! All of the changes we made have definitely made our programs faster, stronger, and better. We have a competition in London, Canada after Christmas from December 27th to the 30th. We have been practicing very hard for the last couple of weeks in order to be fully prepared for this competition because we are competing against the top teams in the world. We are determined and put in hours and hours of hard work and dedication. We are excited to get the opportunity to not only compete against top ranked teams, but to show off our new and improved programs.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays from California Gold

I finished up my semester with final exams last friday, but that didn't mean it was time for a break! California Gold had a busy weekend ahead, plus a few more days of practice before we went on our holiday.

On Saturday morning we had our early morning practice as usual and then all went home for a few hours, before heading to the home of our team manager, Cheryl. Since I had been kicked out of my dorm the night before, I spent the next few nights staying with teammates (shout out to the Austels for taking care of me!). At Cheryl's we held our annual Cal Gold Christmas party with the novice and senior teams and many team families.

After a great meal, the teams prepared for a Holiday show hosted by our home rink, the East West Ice Palace. We all drove together to Ontario for the show. Senior skated our short program with the added challenge of an ice surface shortened by about a fourth. I heard that Michelle Kwan was at the show, the rink being owned by her family, but I didn't get a chance to meet her.

The whole team was up again the next morning for practice. We cut our normal practice short in order to celebrate alumni day. On alumni day the team welcomes all former members of California Gold to come and eat breakfast at the rink, watch our programs, and get on the ice. It was so nice to share some time to think about where California Gold has been and where the organization is going.

At Alumni day I got to see several teammates of mine from the previous year and we had a fun time on the ice, being taught an easy program by Coach Cipresso and Coach Falkowski. I was excited to see my Dreammate and former teammate, Annaleigh, who now attends Berkley as well as former Dream Team member Lauren Bracken.

Happy Holidays!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Miami University Dr. Porter 2011

Hey Everyone,

After many weeks of practice and anxiously awaiting our first opportunity to show off our programs, the competition season has officially begun. Early Friday morning, all three of the Miami teams gathered at the rink for a competition simulation. This gave us the opportunity to see the latest versions of our programs and give each other the final boost before the weekend’s event.

We arrived in Ann Arbor on Friday afternoon and headed to the Cube for a quick unofficial practice. Walking into the rink for the first time on Friday was almost a surreal feeling, as we had been anticipating this moment for a long time. Seeing all of our parents gathered in the small, cold varsity rink bleachers, decked out in red and white to cheer us on for just a short unofficial practice, made us feel so lucky to have our own little “fan club”. Their support means the world to us.

The next morning we had an early wake-up call for official practice. As we entered the Cube this time, it was crowded with teams and fans, giving us the competitive feeling we had been looking forward to. We were excited to put our programs out there on competition ice for the first time. The practice left us feeling very confident and excited going into the competition that night. It was a lot of fun to see familiar faces around the rink, including former coaches and teammates, friends, and family.

The short program competition was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend and a memory that will stick with us all season. The stands were completely packed and full of excitement, and it was so amazing to perform our high-energy short program for such an enthusiastic crowd. We greatly appreciated the overwhelming response that we received from the crowd as we exited the ice. It was a special night for us because it was our first opportunity to come together as a team and show everyone what we have been working so hard to accomplish. I think we can speak for the whole team in saying that the feeling we had after finishing our short program was exactly the one that we had been hoping for. It was even more special to learn that we had won the event that night, something that our coach alerted us that Miami hadn’t achieved since 2006.

Before heading back to the hotel, we went to the stands to surprise our collegiate team and cheer them on for their official practice. As they took the ice, we went crazy cheering them on as if it were the competition itself. It is such an awesome thing to have all three teams be so supportive of each other. We really are a close-knit family, and this is just one example that demonstrates Miami’s motto of love and honor. We went to sleep that night feeling like we had set a great tone for the season and fired up to compete our unique long program the next day.

We took the adrenaline and confidence from the first day of competition and channeled it towards our long program from the moment that we took the ice. We completely transformed ourselves into our Gypsy character and competed a strong, dynamic long program that we were very proud of. We were very pleased with our overall score for the weekend of 174.25 and ecstatic when we learned that we had won the senior division and were presented the Dr. Porter Cup.

It was definitely a “Golden” weekend for all of Miami Skating and a wonderful way to start out our season. We are so excited to get back to practicing and preparing for the next event. We can’t wait to see what this year will bring; it is sure to be a special one! Best of luck to all teams this year! The 2011-2012 synchro season is officially in full swing!

Over and Out from the Ice3,

A2 (Ashleigh & Ashley)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Introducing Katilyn Peterson

Hey guys! My name is Katilyn Peterson. I am a member of the Crystallettes senior team. I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan Dearborn and am majoring in early childhood education with a minor in language arts and science.

My whole family has been involved in figure skating. My mom and aunt are coaches of the senior team and I also have cousins involved in the Crystallette program. My grandma even plays music at U.S. Figure Skating events. I started skating when I was two years old and I joined the Crystallettes preliminary team when I was five. I have competed at the preliminary, juvenile, intermediate, novice, and senior synchronized skating levels. This is my seventh year on the senior team and my third year as captain. The Dearborn Figure Skating Club has an award named for a former coach, Tracey Venda. This award is for a member of the senior team who is a role model for the younger skaters, gives back to the synchronized program and is a leader. I have had the great honor of earning the Tracey Venda award twice and I am the first person to do so. Skating has always been a major part of my life. I love sharing my wonderful skating memories with my family.

This is my third year coaching singles and synchronized skating teams for the Dearborn Figure Skating Club. I enjoy helping younger skaters realize their dreams. I hope to inspire younger skaters to set goals and work hard to achieve them.Skating has taken me to the most wonderful places and I have met amazing people. I have made everlasting friendships due to synchronized skating. Performing on the ice with my team is an incredible feeling. Nothing can beat that adrenaline rush of excitement that you feel when you step onto that ice and I love sharing it with the members of my team. I hope my students also enjoy and experience the same opportunities that synchronized skating has given to me.

My favorite Team USA/skating memory would definitely have to be making the 2010 World Team. The feeling of making the world team is indescribable. There was so much joy, excitement, relief, and pride in what we had accomplished. Our hard work and determination had paid off and we had completed our goal of the season. The 2010 World Championships were held in Colorado Springs, Colo. Having the opportunity to compete against the top teams in the world, in our home country, was a very honorable experience. The sound of the crowd when we took the ice to compete was unforgettable! I still remember how hard my heart was pumping and the exhilaration that had built up inside of me. We ended up placing ninth in the world. The experience of making it to worlds and competing at the biggest competition of the season is something that I will cherish forever. I am thankful for everything U.S. Figure Skating, our club, and community did for us during our trip to the 2010 World Championships.The experience will never be forgotten.

When I am not on the ice, I am usually studying and keeping up with my classes. The endless hours of homework consumes most of my down time. If I am not skating or coaching, I am usually studying, helping my family, or hanging out with my friends. During the summer months, I love to go with my family to our cottage up north.We jet ski, ride the quad runner, shop, catch fish, read books and lay out in the sun. I have a very busy schedule between skating, coaching, and school but I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

Here are some of my favorite things:

Favorite sports figure: Michelle Kwan

Favorite sports team: Crystallettes

Favorite cities: Cabo, Paris, and San Diego.

Top five most played songs on my IPod right now: 1) “Good to you” by Marianas Trench, 2) “Call Me in the Morning” by Taking Back Sunday, 3) “Just a Kiss” by Lady Antebellum, 4) “Ashamed” by Jamestown Story, and 5) “Without you” by Usher.

Favorite musician/band: Skillet

Favorite movie: Pocahontas

Favorite books: Twilight Saga

Favorite TV show: Modern Family

Favorite magazines: Seventeen

Favorite vacation spot: Cabo, Mexico

Favorite food: Grilled cheese

Favorite place I’ve traveled for skating: Maine

Favorite program I’ve ever skated: This year’s short program to Footloose by Kenny Loggins.

Favorite quote: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”. (Dr. Seuss)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Introducing Sennett Cooke

Hi everyone! My name is Sennett Cooke and I am a member of the Skyliners junior team. I am currently a senior at Pelham Memorial High School in Pelham, New York. I will be starting college next fall, and I’m thinking about majoring in Athletic Training, a topic where I hope to stay involved with synchronized skating, and athletes in general.

I began skating at the age of five, when a family friend took me skating at a rink near my house. As soon as I got on, I fell in love, and made her bring me back countless times, until finally for Christmas that year, Santa brought me my first pair of skates and lessons at my current home rink.

About a year later, my mom found out my home club was starting a synchro team, something no one in my family had ever heard of, but in an attempt to get me into a team dynamic, my mom signed me up. The team was called the Skyliners and I have had the pleasure of skating for this amazing organization for my eleven years of being a synchronized skater. I have always enjoyed skating in general, but there is something about having the support of fifteen other extremely dedicated athletes behind you, any time you step on the ice, that really separates my love of synchronized skating from my enjoyment of other figure skating disciplines.

My favorite Team USA memory was definitely competing in Prague, Czech Republic at the Prague Cup. This was my very first time competing as a Team USA athlete, an achievement I had worked toward for many years. Prague is by the far the most beautiful country I have visited, (even in the middle of winter), and was an amazing place to travel to. We had one of our best skates that season in Prague, but the best part of the competition was stepping onto the ice and hearing the announcer say, “representing the United States of America” for the first time. There is no feeling that can compare to the pride one feels representing their team, their sport and their country.

When I’m not on the ice, which is very rare, I am usually spending time with family and friends, or catching up on homework. I enjoy baking and photography a lot, so anytime the opportunity arises I usually take advantage. I love the excuse of a birthday or major event to bake some cupcakes or a cake for my teammates! I have had the opportunity to participate in several community service projects, and greatly enjoy giving back to my community. I also have a job at my home rink! I do various jobs around the rink and once a week I teach group classes as well. I love working with my students. They are so much fun, and it always gives me a sense of pride that I could have some impact on a young athlete looking to begin this sport I enjoy so much.

Good Luck to everyone this season!



Favorite sports team: New York Yankees

Favorite city: New York City

Favorite books: The Harry Potter series

Favorite TV show: Glee

Favorite vacation spot: Cape Cod, MA

Favorite place I’ve traveled for skating: Prague, Czech Republic

Favorite program I’ve ever skated: Skyliners Junior 2010-2011 free skate (Phantom of the Opera):

Monday, November 28, 2011

Introducing Emmeline Weinert

Hi, my name is Emmy and I am a member of California Gold senior. I am currently a sophomore at Loyola Marymount University and am a Dance and Political Science double major.

A few years after beginning skating in basic skills classes, I joined the Hockettes preliminary team when I was in the third grade. I have two older sisters and both were Hockettes before me, which inspired me to try out for the team. I ended up skating with the Hockettes for 10 seasons (5 of those spent cross-skating) and so my parents were Hockette parents for a total of 16 consecutive years.

All throughout my skating career I have juggled dance along with my team commitments and on several occasions told myself I would choose one or the other so that I could focus on it and become truly proficient. When heading off to college I decided that it would be cruel to make myself pick just one and decided I would just have to find a way to do both. That was how I came to skate for California Gold. California Gold draws skaters from all over the greater Los Angeles area and I knew that there I could find dance. At Loyola Marymount I am able to major in Dance as well as skate on a strong and challenging senior team.

My favorite Team USA memory is from the first time I represented the United States overseas in Milan, Italy, my first year on Hockettes junior (06-07). That first experience put me in awe of the honor that had been bestowed on me to represent my country. I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that few others get to experience the pride that I was experiencing. I still get that feeling every time I compete overseas and wear my Team USA jacket.

(Hockettes Junior in Milan, Italy after a third place finish, 2007)

When I’m not on the ice you will usually find me dancing or studying. I don't live the typical college life, going to bed before 10:00 p.m. most nights, so that I can wake up at 3:30 a.m. for practice, but wouldn't trade my life for the world. I love to hang out with my friends and we can often be found playing Disney Charades, arguing about the definition of magic or basically participating in any other nerdy pursuit. I am very interested in politics and am involved in several different political organizations on campus. I believe that one of the best forms of service is to actively engage in political dialogue and action, to make sure that institutions reflect what we care about. My constant goal is insure that my peers and I are becoming good and informed citizens of the world community. I also work part time at a private school here in Los Angeles, doing all manner of office work.

(Look! Its me and the President. Its a little hard to find me so I circled it....)

Favorite sports figure: Muhammad Ali

Favorite sports team: The Detroit Tigers!

Favorite cities: My parent's home town of Detroit and my own hometown Ann Arbor.

Favorite musician/band: I am a big lover of John Legend.

Favorite movie: I guess I'm a fan of trilogies, Star Wars, the Matrix and Lord of the Rings

Favorite books: Jane Eyre and Harry Potter

Favorite TV show: The West Wing

Favorite vacation spot: Green Gables; a cabin in the woods of northern Michigan that has been in my family for several generations.

Favorite place I’ve traveled for skating: Berlin, Germany

Favorite program I’ve ever skated: I have two, a Junior short program to “Pump It” by the Black Eyed Peas (06-07) and senior long program to “Robin Hood” (10-11)

Favorite quote: “There is no them, only facets of us.” -John Green

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Introducing Dana Hall

Hi! I'm Dana Hall. I am a member of Starlights senior. I am currently a Freshman at the University of Wisconsin--Whitewater. I plan on majoring in Athletic Training. This means that when I am done skating, I would like to be able to travel with teams that go internationally and be their team doctor/trainer.

When I was younger, I skated for Wisconsin Edge. After that I skated for the Fond du Lac Blades. I spent about six years with them until I went to where I currently am; with the Starlights. I first got into skating because my grandparents took our whole family to a rink. I was too small to fit into any skates so I had to wear my shoes. It was so much fun that apparently I was hooked and haven't stopped skating since.

My favorite Team USA memory would be from last year when I was in Austria. We had gone to the same restaurant every night for dinner. One of the time we went, we were all really tired from the day and one of the girls on the team felt like she needed to bring our spirits up. So, she decided that she was going to eat some horseradish. One of our coaches told her, "if you eat a spoonful of that, then you don't have to do the warm-up block when we get home." My teammate was so up for that. She took a HUGE spoonful, plugged her nose, and shoved it in her mouth. It was absolutely hilarious! She brightened the spirits of the team that night, but unfortunately she still had to do the warm-up block when we got back to the U.S.

When I am not skating, you can usually find me doing homework in my dorm room or getting involved on campus. I love going out with my friends on weeknights to go bowling. We always have so much fun. A pasttime of mine would be watching synchro on youtube, because I really enjoy seeing what teams have done with their programs over the years and how synchro has changed. If I am not out bowling or on youtube, I am most likely listening to music. It calms me down after a hard day of classes. Although skating is a huge part of my life, I was also involved in Color Guard at my high school along with softball. I enjoy sports and being involved in anything I can be involved in.

Favorite sports figure: Michael Jordan
Favorite sports team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite cities: Chicago, New York
Favorite movie: Dear John
Favorite place I’ve traveled for skating: Rouen, France
Favorite program I’ve ever skated: Starlights senior 2010, Music Box

Favorite quote: SKATING: It's the feeling you get at the end of a hard practice when you pushed yourself to the limit, the way the ice feels when you get back on it after a few months off. It's a part of YOUR IDENTITY, something you LOVE and something you HATE. A bond that NO ONE ELSE really understands, but that's okay, because every time you get out on the ice it isn't just you; it's all the friends and coaches over the years, all the practices, all the sweat, all the pain, all the tears, all the memories, all the laughter, all the "off" competitions, all the lifetime bests, and all the road trips. As individual as it may seem, skating is really a team sport, and even still, it's more than just a sport. IT'S A WAY OF LIFE.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Introducing Ashleigh Ostin

Hi everyone! My name is Ashleigh Ostin. I’m from Farmington, Michigan, a suburb in the Metro Detroit area. I am a member of the Miami senior varsity team. I am currently a sophomore at Miami University and this will be my second season skating for the senior team. I am majoring in International Studies with minors in Spanish and Marketing. Ever since spending summers in Finland and Denmark when I was 11 and 13 through a children’s international program, I’ve known I wanted to pursue something related to these experiences. I hope to someday work in the business world for an international company that allows me to continue my passion for traveling and international affairs.

I started skating at the age of 3 after watching my older brother play hockey. I asked my mom if I could do that too, and it wasn’t long before I was signed up for group lessons. I’m not sure my parents knew what they were getting themselves into, as I think they expected me to play hockey like my brother. Obviously that was not the case. From then on, our second home became the rink.

I joined my first synchronized skating team at the age of 6. I skated for the Gems on Ice until 2007, winning national medals at the juvenile, intermediate, and novice levels. I then joined the Hockettes and skated for three seasons on the junior team. I graduated from Mercy High School in 2010, became a freshman at Miami University and earned a spot on the senior varsity team that fall.

My favorite Team USA memory was competing at the 2011 World Synchronized Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Because Finland already holds a special place in my heart due to time spent there in previous years and close friends that live there, being able to compete in Helsinki was a dream come
true for me. The feeling I got stepping on the ice for the short program was the highlight of the experience and is something very difficult to put into words. The crowd and amount of cheering and noise in the arena was astounding. Being able to skate one of our best performances in such an amazing atmosphere is a memory that will remain with me forever.

When I’m not on the ice, you can usually find me in our local Starbucks enjoying a cup of coffee and getting some homework done. Otherwise I am probably spending time with my teammates. It’s an awesome thing to go to school and have classes with your teammates in addition to skating. You could say we spend just about every hour of every day together. I also coach group lessons here at Miami, which I really enjoy. It’s so rewarding to be able to give back to the sport that’s been such a big part of my life and given so much to me over the years.

All of the Miami teams have been very busy and working extremely hard over the past few months. We had a very successful parents weekend exhibition and loved performing our short program at a recent hockey game. We are looking forward to debuting our programs at our first competition of the season, the Dr. Porter Classic in Ann Arbor! See you all at the Cube!

Miami Senior performs during the the Miami vs. Michigan Hockey game

(photo by Pam Sutter)

Love & Honor,

Fun Facts:

Favorite sports team: Detroit Red Wings

Favorite cities: Helsinki, Amsterdam, San Diego

Most played song on my IPod right now: Icey Queen by Milos Rosas

Favorite singer: Madonna

Favorite movies: Miracle, Beauty and the Beast

Favorite book: Wuthering Heights

Favorite vacation spot: Northern Michigan in the summertime

Favorite food: Coffee, Frozen Yogurt (especially from Yogurtland in California!)

Favorite place I’ve traveled for skating: Helsinki, Finland

Favorite program I’ve ever skated: 2008 Junior Hockettes free skate (“Flamenco”)

Favorite quote: “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Introducing Linnea Barrett

Hi, my name is Linnea Barrett and I am a member of ICE’Kateers senior team. I am currently a senior at El Dorado High School in Placentia, CA. I plan to attend a four-year college next fall; possibly majoring in psychology, while minoring in communications.

I started skating when I was about 5 years old. I had just moved to California from Connecticut the year before, and began to take an interest in the sport after becoming close friends with my next door neighbor, and DREAM alumi, Taylor Walker. I skated on several ISI teams growing up, and in 2002 I joined the ICE’Kateers; who I have skated with ever since. I also continued competing in singles skating over the years, and am currently a gold medalist in moves in the field and am trying to earn the same title in free skating as well.

My favorite synchro memory was a few years ago at the 2008 U.S Synchronized Skating Championships. This was the year the ICE’Kateers earned their first spot on Team USA. I remember standing with my teammates in the kiss and cry, seeing and hearing our scores, and being completely ecstatic when we learned we had qualified for the opportunity to compete internationally. I remember in the locker room, after we got off the ice, asking one of my teammates, “What does this mean, what does this mean?” and when they told me it meant we got to travel overseas to compete; I was overwhelmed with joy and pride in my team. We had come together and worked hard to create a product that earned us the honor of representing our country overseas, and for the first time in our organization's history! I truly cannot put together words to describe that feeling.

When I’m not on the ice, I'm generally pretty busy! Along with skating and school, I also work part time and am involved in various school clubs. I'm the president of my figure skating club's junior board and am a Link Crew leader at my school (a group that assists freshman throughout their first year of high school). I love spending time with my friends, as well as my younger sister; they have a way of making me laugh until I can't breathe. I'm obsessed with driving, something I can't really explain but I've been this way since the day I got my driver's license. You can usually find me driving around with my friends, listening to music, or having our own personal concert. I also love baking, traveling, and eating out with friends and family.

Looking forward to a great season!


My Favorites:

Favorite sports team: New England Patriots

Favorite music genre: Country :)

Favorite book: The Outsiders, Harry Potter

Favorite movie: Pride and Prejudice, Slumdog Millionaire, She's the Man, and Tangled

Favorite TV show: New Girl

Favorite program I’ve ever skated: I actually really love our short program this season! The music is a tango piece; something I've always wanted to skate to.

Favorite place I’ve traveled for skating: Tennessee

Favorite quote: “If you never did you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.” - Dr. Seuss

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 - 2012 DREAM members

U.S. Figure Skating is pleased to announce the members of the 2011-12 DREAM Program:

Athlete (Hometown) - Team
Linnea Barrett (Plecentia, Calif.) - ICE'Kateers
Sennett Cooke (Pelham, N.Y.) - Skyliners
Dana Hall (Fond du Lac, Wisc.) - Starlights
Tessa Hedges (Grosse Point Farms, Mich.) - Haydenettes
Bianca Jackson (Glencoe, Ill.) - Starlights
Audrey McQuade (North White Plains, N.Y.) - Haydenettes
Ashley Mulhern (New Canaan, Conn.) - Miami University
Ashleigh Ostin (Farmington, Mich.) - Miami University
Katilyn Peterson (Dearborn, Mich.) - Crystallettes
Emmeline Weinert (Ann Arbor, Mich.) - California Gold
Annaleigh Yahata (Yorba Linda, Calif.) - California Gold

Please visit the DREAM section of the U.S. Figure Skating Website for complete bios of all DREAM Program Athletes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A New Chapter

Hey Everyone,

This blog is long overdue, but I hope that it finds everyone well at the start of our 2011-2012 seasons. I just recently started a new chapter of my life as I moved out to Oxford, Ohio to start my freshman year at Miami University. One of the hardest things about this transition, other than moving 13 hours away from my mom, dad, and younger sister, was moving away from the other huge piece of my life, my 20 “sisters” and “family”, my team, the Skyliners. After skating with the Skyliners organization for the past 9 years, there were definitely a few tears shed as I had to say goodbye, but that being said, I was excited for the new opportunity that stood ahead of me. My Skyliners coaches, including Josh Babb, Jenny Gibson, and Sarah LeBlanc Blosat, could not have prepared me better as both a skater and person for the challenges that I face in college.

The first few weeks of college were surreal as I could not believe that after 10 years of attending Miami Summer Skating Camps and always dreaming of being a Redhawk, I was finally there. The week of tryouts took me by storm, with so many amazing skaters working for just 53 spots on the varsity teams. I was beyond thrilled when I was placed on the senior team, and it was clear that one of my life long dreams was really coming true.

So far, my experience on the team has been absolutely incredible. Being a varsity athlete at a division 1 university is something so special. Although each week is busier than the next, with classes, on-ice practices, off-ice practices, and much more, you always know that you have 52 other teammates standing behind you ready to support you and help you out whenever you may need it. The veterans on the senior team were so extremely welcoming and have really helped me get through these first 3 months of completely new experiences.

Although Miami Skating gets a much later start than many other teams throughout the country, we really hit the ground running right away. In just the second week of post tryout practices, choreographer Sarah Kawahara came in to piece together the senior free skate. This was a whirlwind experience for the rookies, but ended with a very fun, creative program and 20 extremely exhausted girls. Less than 4 weeks later, choreographer Scott Brown came in to to “Jazz up” our very enthusiastic short program. At the conclusion of fall break weekend, we had 2 programs that we were completely thrilled with and had gotten a great critique from 3 U.S. Figure Skating officials. In addition to all of our busy practice schedules, the Miami teams participated in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure, supported other Miami varsity teams in their sporting events, held spirit days at practice for homecoming week, walked in the Miami University Homecoming Parade, and had a very successful skating Parents Weekend.

This past weekend was filled with skater-parent reunions, family skates, and crowd filled performances. I was so excited to see my parents after 3 months of not seeing them. I’m so grateful that they were able to make the trip out to see all 3 teams perform their 2011-2012 competitive season programs and be here for such a nice weekend. This coming weekend both the collegiate and senior teams are looking forward to our first opportunity to skate between the periods of the hockey games making the sport better known across the campus.

Best of luck to all teams in their last weeks of practice prior to the competition season. That’s all for now! Can’t wait to see everyone at Porter!

Love & Honor,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October with the Haydenettes

October proved to be a very busy month for the Haydenettes. The first weekend in October, the Haydenettes and the Lexettes participated in the Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in downtown Boston. Both teams enjoyed spending our Sunday morning making a difference right in our hometown. We decked out in pink and maroon attire and walked alongside the Charles River. The Haydenettes enjoyed a nice team lunch before heading to practice that afternoon.

The following week, the Haydenettes spent Columbus Day rinkside at our monitoring session. The practice went very well, and we received great feedback from the officials. After monitoring we had a great afternoon of team bonding. We had lunch together after practice then went apple picking. The weather was beautiful and we picked some tasty apples!

The third weekend in October, the Haydenettes debuted the short program at a very special event at Harvard, An Evening with Champions. The Haydenettes have participated in this event for fifteen years. It was an honor to skate between Rachael Flatt and Oksana Baiul. Another featured skater at this event was Olympic Gold medalist Yuna Kim. The audience was very supportive and responded well to our skating. We were all amused bythe “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd when we stopped in unison at the end of our warm-up block.

The following weekend was the Hayden Synchronized Skating Teams Kick Off. All the teams skated their programs for friends and family. It is a great time of year to come together as a club and support one another. This was the first time the Haydenettes performed the long program for an audience. All of the teams looked amazing, especially for this early in the season.

The Haydenettes spent the final weekend of the month in New York City performing in the annual opening of the Citi Pond at Bryant Park. The Haydenettes love performing at Bryant Park. The audience was wonderful, not to mention the amazing rink-side scenery.

(All above Bryant Park)

photos: Mary Jane Hanlon, Ted Castro

The pre-season has flown by incredibly fast. It won’t be long until our first competition in December. We can’t wait to start the competitive season! We’ll update more as that time approaches.

-Audrey and Tessa

Sunday, August 14, 2011

College Bound!

This past spring, I was faced with a major question. “Which college should I go to?” Being the indecisive person I am, I struggled with this choice for a while. I made pro-con lists and looked at numerous websites explaining the ups and downs of each college I was accepted into. I eventually chose to attend University of California Berkeley. Each minute I spent researching the schools, I got more excited about Berkeley and studied less of the other schools. I went up to visit the campus and fell in love with the location and just the feel of a college campus with a lot of school pride.

With all the gains that came with going to Berkeley, there were also sacrifices I had to make. One being the fact that there is no synchro team for me to skate on. This is what made it an unbelievably hard choice to make. However, I prayed about it, thought about how I have had some amazing times with my teams, and I decided that my education came first in this situation. Luckily, Cal has a figure skating club that competes in intercollegiate competitions, so I still have the opportunity to skate!

I wish the best of luck to all teams this season and also to all high schoolers in your college choices!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer Update

Hey Guys!

This summer is much different than what used to be normal for me! I currently have an internship at Sonoco Products Company. The paper mill is located in City of Industry, California which is about 2 hours from my hometown in San Diego. This worked out really well because I am still able to see family and friends on the weekends while getting a great work experience in the paper industry, which is a specified field within my degree of Chemical Engineering.

At the mill, recycled paperboard is the final product produced. The paper machine runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To create the product, Sonoco buys recycled cardboard boxes, newpaper, mixed paper, and tubes from both vendors and local customers. Then these resources are essentially ground up, run through multiple cleaners and refiners, and used to make brand new sheets of paper.

(Recycled books used for production)

(Final products consist of large paper reels even bigger than people)

I wish I could say that maintaining a full time job and training go hand in hand but I'm sure few have found that to be the case. Luckily, early morning skating sessions are available and I usually head to the rink to skate before getting to the office at 7 and then I head back for weights in the afternoon. It can be a challenging and hectic schedule but it also proves one of the countless beauties of being a Varsity student athlete. At school and home, on and off the ice, not only are we training to be the best at our sport, but also for all our future careers and endeavors.

I have learned an unbelievable amount after 10 weeks of my internship at Sonoco. It's hard to believe that the summer has flown by so fast. I have met so many incredible people and industry contacts already, from people at my office to other plants within Sonoco (I'm known as "the ice skater from Miami"). I've even given a presentation for the VP! I am very excited to see the results of my projects. It has been such a great opportunity and experience and I cannot wait to see what comes next for me! :)

Enjoy the rest of summer! And get ready for another fantastic synchro season! :)


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Choosing a School- My Journey

The college selection process is an intimidating step in the lives of children and parents. Most people choose a school based on the academics and where they fit in best. I came into the process struggling with many questions, but most importantly, where could I go that fits me academically and will allow me to skate?

(photo: Boston College ice rink - Silvio O Conte Forum)

I started the process last summer via a long east coast tour with my parents. I visited Boston College, Boston University, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. I came out of this trip slightly more stressed because I could see myself at many of the schools I visited. These tours shed light on which parts to highlight on your application, and on how to go about completing it. Later on, I visited Northwestern University and Miami University, and of course ended up loving both as well.

I began the Common Application in August, which was a smart decision because if you wait until school begins, homework begins to take over your time. I wrote many essays (mostly about skating experiences- which make great topics) and was done by December. After I sent in my last application, I had to endure the wait until March.

I did apply to schools at which I could not integrate skating. Even though I knew in my heart that I could not leave the sport at this time, my head told me that I should begin to concentrate solely on academics. It was after the U.S. Synchro Championships and the Dearborn ice show that I knew I wasn’t done skating. It had been a part of me for too long.

(photo: some Crystallettes at the Dearborn Figure Skating Club ice show)

I was granted acceptance to University of Michigan, Boston College, and Miami University. Each university would allow me to skate, but all were very different. After a long period of contemplating and pro-con lists, I finally realized that what was important was that I was comfortable and happy. I ended up choosing Boston College because it was undoubtedly my favorite campus and location. It meant leaving a lot of my friends and memories behind, but if my years of skating had taught me anything, it would be to take risks and chase after your dreams. I am forever thankful for the ongoing support from my parents and my teammates over the years.

Next fall I will be skating for the Haydenettes and attending Boston College as a biochemistry major. I could not be more excited about my choice, but I know that I would have been happy with whichever college I chose.

(photo: My mom and I at a Detroit Tigers vs. Red Sox game-- not to worry Tigers fans, my loyalty will always be in Detroit ;))
My best advice for rising seniors (or anyone anticipating the college selection process) is to breathe and remember that what’s supposed to happen, will happen. It is ok to take skating into consideration when you are choosing a school, as you have to take many different factors into account when deciding what school will make you happiest. Balancing college classes and an intense skating schedule requires extreme time management skills, another skill this sport instills in its participants.

Skating is extremely close to my heart. I am very fortunate to be able to continue my love for the sport and integrate it into my college experience.

I hope I shed some light on the process! Have a great summer, and I will update shortly with summertime activities with the Haydenettes and the DREAM program.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pacific Coast DREAM Camp

This past weekend was the Pacific Coast DREAM camp in Anaheim, Calif. Taylor, Annaleigh, and I were the 3 DREAMmates to attend this camp along with Team USA coaches, Josh Babb (Skyliners), Pam May (Team Braemar), and Lisa Darken (Chicago Jazz).

We had a jam packed day full of various on ice classes including musical interpretation, lines and wheels, and circles and blocks. On ice classes were alternated with off ice classes consisting of dance, team bonding, and conditioning.

(Working on spirals with Pam and Lisa)

The athletes were split into separate groups which allowed all to really use this time to learn to their advantage. It was evident that the campers were having a great time and Taylor, Annaleigh, and I had an equally fun time demonstrating and participating in all the events. The day was finished off with a pizza party for all the athletes where they could sit and chat with all their new friends.

Now, it's almost time for the U.S. Figure Skating Synchronized Skating Training Festival in Strongsville, Ohio! Participating in the festival is always one of the highlights of the summer. The DREAMmates start off by participating in the Coaches College, where we learn more about the new IJS communications and get to interact with the top coaches and officials in the country. During the 2 day skating camp, we each take on various roles on and off the ice, serving as team leaders, on- and off-ice demostrators and helpers. We have fantastic time together and with all the campers participating. It is always such a neat thing to see how everyone comes together in such a short amount of time, regardless of where the individuals come from.

Hope everyone has had a fabulous summer so far and we can't wait to see you in Ohio next week!

Love from California,

Friday, July 15, 2011

DREAM Alumni Update - Emily Saitta

Emily Saitta was an original DREAM Athlete, serving as a member of the program from 2008-2010. Saitta has competed as a member of University of Michigan's collegiate team, as well as been a member of Team USA while competing with the Crystallettes senior team. Before college, Saitta was a skater with the ICE'Kateers Synchronized Skating Teams, from Anaheim, Calif., for six years.

Since completing my time with the DREAM program, I have done quite a bit of skating and traveling. I decided to apply to study abroad in Sydney, Australia for the second semester of my junior year and was accepted into the program! I focused and worked really hard on my singles skating and passed my senior freeskate test in November 2010, right before I left for Sydney. This was a huge accomplishment for me and I was then able to “hang up my skates” for a few months while traveling around Australia. But before I took that 15 hour flight around the world, I had to get my synchro fix satisfied! In the two months I spent at home before flying to Australia, I skated with the ICE’Kateers senior synchronized skating team. After a few short weeks of training, I competed with the team at sectionals in Minnesota. I had a wonderful time performing the routines and was able to spend my last few months in California with some great friends.

Before I knew it, I was off to Australia for an adventure of a lifetime. I lived in Australia for 5 months taking a full load of classes, interning with travel agency Backpacker World Travel, and learning how to budget extremely well. I made great friendships, navigated through unfamiliar lands, and studied in a new teaching environment. A quote from my final posting to my personal blog that I updated while in Australia sums up my time while studying abroad:

“This has been perhaps the greatest experience of my life. I can't imagine my college career being complete without studying abroad. It is a learning experience you simply can't get any other way. I have learned so much from this experience, including increased knowledge in economics and the marine environment through my courses. I worked for a local business with English and Irish people learning about their cultures and lifestyles. I learned how to live off the land, make a fire, and even play guitar. I made great friends and explored an AMAZING country.

Walking past the opera house and Sydney Bridge never gets old. I am in awe every time. By talking to and living with individuals from other countries, my eyes were open to what goes on in the rest of the world. I even changed my homepage to BBC international! I have learned how to relax here and value the time I get to listen and talk with friends. Making dinner and singing to a guitar is just as great as camping in the rainforest and swimming under waterfalls when you are with great friends. Being here was such a surreal experience. Everything around you is beautiful and you are learning so much at the same time. I am so glad I did it.”

I have just returned home to California and am spending time with friends and family before I head back to the University of Michigan for my final year as a senior! This has been such an incredible journey and it proves to me that one can accomplish all of their desires including skating, studying abroad, being involved in clubs, attending sporting events, knowing professors personally, meeting incredible people, and being happy knowing that many doors are available just waiting to be opened!

--Emily Saitta