Friday, March 27, 2015

Fueling the Grind

As soon as Nationals were over I wanted to get right back to practice! Competing at Nationals, watching teams at every level, and qualifying for Worlds motivated me to take on the next step in training with the Haydenettes. 
Some of my favorite moments after competing at 
Nationals were the hugs from my teammates and my family
[Photo taken by Kaleigh Corbett]

Leaving the locker room after competing the 
short program at Nationals
This season, nutrition has never been more significant. As the training grind gets more intense, nutrition and hydration play an even more important role. Did you know that when you start to feel thirsty, your muscles are already approximately 20% less efficient? I only wish I had known sooner because now that I am drinking almost 4 Nalgene water bottles a day, I’m less sore after an intense practice or workout.

Post-practice recovery: water and a protein shake 
As a team, we have made a big push to eating healthy and fueling our bodies with the right foods: the less processed, the better. Protein, fruits, and vegetables have become our main focus!

As synchro athletes, we train in multiple disciplines, often more than once in one day. My favorite start to a day of training and school is a good breakfast. For example, on Wednesdays I’m on the ice first thing in the morning for a lesson, after which I go to class, and then head to practice where we’re on the ice for 2 ½ hours and then do a high intensity workout right after. Eating a power-packed breakfast affects my focus and mood for the whole day, so I like to have a lot of protein and some fruit.
My favorite breakfast: egg white omelet with spinach and ham, cottage cheese, and berries
Remember that everyone’s body is different and requires different fuel. Nevertheless, I encourage you during this season of tryouts and recovery to try to drink a little more water every day, or add an extra serving of fruit or vegetables to your next meal because it really makes a difference!

Good luck with school and tryouts everyone!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Caught up with Post-National Blues?

It has only been 18 days since the 2015 US Synchronized Skating Championships concluded in Providence, Rhode Island. But who is counting? Unforgettable programs were skated, champions were crowned, and I am sure tons of selfies were taken. Instead of doing homework, you browse through all 500+ of your teammate's photos.  You constantly have flashbacks to being out on the ice with your teammates and skating your very best. And you cannot stop watching your performance on YouTube.

You, like many other skaters are displaying classic symptoms of post-National blues!

With former DREAMmate Audrey McQuade and DREAMmate Eliana Marostica post Senior Award Ceremony at Nationals.   

Is it socially acceptable to #tbt to #SynchroChamps15 already?

Here are a few suggestions on what you can be doing to keep your mind off last season and help prepare you for next season:

1.     Keep skating - practicing your individual skills will help you maintain your current level of skating. Work on skills that where challenging for you this past season and master what you were already comfortable with. Never underestimate the amount of time and dedication you put into making yourself a better skater.

Taking advantage of private ice at Walter Brown Arena at Boston University.

2.     Test: Moves in the Field, Ice Dance, and Freestyle – taking tests is important to eventually compete at certain levels in qualifying competitions. Or you can take tests to continually challenge yourself and your abilities.

3.      Cross train – the off-season is the perfect time to try new activities that keep you active. Whether it is running, swimming, cycling, kickboxing, or yoga, your options are endless and should be fun! 
Ashley Tomich & I powered through a Vinyasa Flow class.

4.     Participate in the S.T.A.R.S program – a fun and interactive off-ice fitness assessment designed to promote all-around fitness and to physically prepare skaters for more complex and demanding skating skills. This is a great way to see your performance in comparison with with matched age-, gender-, and level- skaters from across the US. It also provides you with a baseline for where your fitness levels are and what areas you can focus on in training for next season.

5.     Attend Summer CampsDREAM Camp, Synchro Training Festival, or other summer camps are the perfect opportunity to meet and skate with other skaters from across the country. You also get to work with some of the best coaches in the US and learn new skills that you can take back home to share with your team.

Goofing around between on-ice sessions at Elite Camp 2014.

Registration for DREAM Camp and Training Festival opens on April 1, 2015!

6.     Rest – this is also the perfect time to focus on your individual needs! Whether you take a few weeks off to rest an injury or go on a vacation with your family, do not worry about not being able to skate. Everyone deserves time to rest and regroup during the off-season, which can actually help you prepare for next season.

No matter what you end up doing during this off-season, make sure you keep your skates sharpened and your body healthy so you are ready to take on next season. I know I cannot wait to spend time with my friends and family back at home in California.

Feel free to reach out to any DREAM skater or myself if you have any questions about what we do during our off-season! We would love to hear from you or see you at DREAM Camp/Training Festival this summer!

-       Devin Wang

Monday, March 9, 2015

No “Right” Path

As another season comes to a close for United States Synchronized Skating, we are all aware that no time is lost in planning for the next season.   All of this has a different meaning for the athletes who are looking toward the next step in their skating career.  

For many athletes, the love for this sport was developed through a single organization.  This club gave you not only the skills to succeed, but many best friends - which makes it all the more difficult to move in a new direction. This decision does not weigh lightly, as it asks not only what team you will find yourself on, but also how will you balance your life outside of the rink.

My advice to the worried skaters who have this daunting decision ahead of them is simple; decide what matters most to you.  A favorite quote of mine that reads “Ask yourself what is really important and then have the wisdom and courage to build your life around it”.  If the answer to this question is skating, then I know a few girls who were in your shoes not very long ago.

As a small town girl from Howell, Michigan I joined the Ann Arbor Hockette organization at age 12. I had been skating freestyle and synchro for my local club team since the age of 5, but I was ready to take on a new challenge in hopes of pushing myself further.  For five amazing years I skated for the Hockettes and made friends that are still like family to me, today.  I then found myself in the position to move toward my biggest dream - becoming a member of the Haydenettes. 

Lifelong friends that I made during my time on Hockettes, Maggie Mayer (above) and Tessa Hedges (below)

It is hard enough deciding which team may be a good fit, but what about the life you will have to build outside of the rink?  Take a breath - like I said before, just follow year heart. If your greatest goal is to skate, then you will find a way to make it happen.

There is no single or “right” way to make your dreams come true.  My team has followed a number of paths:
  •  Many of the girls on my team attend college full time.  This is perfect for them because it not only allows them to continue their education, but it also gives them a place to call home. 
  • Others have jobs (instead of, or as well as school) to help offset the costs of skating and living expenses. 
  • Some have graduated college already and move to Hayden as their next step – (even from other countries!)
My path has been a bit more winding than that of a normal student athlete. For the past four years I have been a part time Biology/ Pre-med student at Fitchburg State University. Being part time has given me the chance to focus on skating, as well as maintain my GPA. I have had the freedom to work multiple jobs and the flexibility to balance amazing volunteer/internship opportunities, such the Boys & Girls Club and The Special Olympics.  My favorite volunteer opportunity outside of the rink has been working for the New England Aquarium’s Rescue and Rehabilitation center. Each week I shadow Biologists and Veterinarians as they treat wild animals found on the coast of Massachusetts!
A photo taken by The Boston Globe during the record breaking sea turtle stranding season of the fall/winter of 2014-15
I hope all of this can help to ease some of your minds. I know that there is still much uncertainty, but if you are working towards a goal that drives you, then the sacrifices will be nothing in comparison to reaching those goals! Though we are all synchronized skaters working towards the same dreams, our paths will certainly veer in different directions before merging into one.

-Lindsay Grajek