Skating at varsity level

sports/OCL-Ice-Effects-(6)

Oswego State currently boasts 24 intercollegiate athletic programs, but the synchronized skating team, Ice Effects, hopes to increase that number to 25 in their attempt to become a varsity team.

The Ice Effects are hoping to join Adrian College as the second of only three varsity-level collegiate programs in the country. However, there are many requirements before a team can move from a club sport to a varsity sport.

"There’s a lot of work that is involved in the process, but we’re all really excited," club president Amanda Servadio said.

To make the jump from club sport to varsity sport, the synchronized skating team must present its argument to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NAIA is responsible for the organization of college and university-level athletic programs. The meeting with the NAIA board consists of a presentation where the team outlines what the program has to offer and why it should be considered for a varsity position. That meeting is scheduled to take place next week.

The Ice Effects are in the beginning stage of a long process, having attended a few smaller meetings and conducting a team practice in front of Athletic Director Tim Hale and Oswego State President Deborah Stanley among others, including a representative from the NAIA board. Although the team is looking forward to the opportunity to become a varsity-level program, it recognizes it could take awhile.

"Everyone is saying that it’s a really long process, so unless something amazing happens where it could happen next year, [becoming a varsity team] probably won’t happen for a few years," Servadio said.

Sarah Goobic, the club’s treasurer, said the meetings and open practice have gone well. Goobic said both Hale and Stanley seemed impressed with what the team had accomplished so far in the program’s history. They agreed that the synchronized skating team had done a good job of gaining the public’s attention.

The decision to attempt to make the move up to the varsity level is due in large part to the team’s success over recent years. Two years ago, Ice Effects became a collegiate-level team, moving up from the open-collegiate level. The move allowed the team to compete in the United States Synchronized Skating Championships, more commonly referred to as Nationals, which they have qualified for in each of the past two seasons. The Ice Effects finished 12th in both appearances, falling less than a point shy of 11th place at last year’s Nationals. This year’s Nationals will be held at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. from March 2-5.

The Ice Effects finished fifth in each of the last two years at the Eastern Sectional Championships to qualify for Nationals. As an open-collegiate program in 2008, the synchronized skating team took first place at the Eastern Sectional Championships.

"This would be a great thing for the team," Student Association Chief Justice Scott Silver said. "I think that it will demonstrate the school’s active interest in upholding something unique that would really help admissions and the school’s image."

Silver would not speculate on how long it would take for a decision on whether to make the club a varsity sport or how much funding the team would receive as a result.

Despite recent success, the Ice Effects have had to endure many hardships that varsity-level programs have not. The team is responsible for creating its own budget that they must present to S.A. for approval. Last year, the team requested $27,000 but was granted $11,000. The Ice Effects, although they have an ice rink located on campus, have limited practice time due to other teams’ practice needs. The team is only allotted four hours of on-ice practice a week because of time constraints with the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, the men’s club hockey team and campus recreation events that use the rink. The team practices once a week at Glimmerglass Fitness Center for an hour. If they become a varsity-level program, they will no longer have these problems, as it would have a set budget each year and it would receive more ice time.

The idea of moving to a varsity-level program is exciting for the Ice Effects, but right now, they have their attention focused on this season. There are 11 new members on the synchronized skating team and a new skating routine to learn.

"Right now, we’re just focusing on ourselves and becoming the best team that we can be competitive-wise," Goobic said.

This weekend, the Ice Effects will travel to Stamford, Conn. for the Terry Connors Synchronized Skating Open on Dec. 4-5. This is the 11th year of the event, but will be the first time that the Ice Effects partake in the competition.

On Jan. 21, the Ice Effects will host the Port City Invitational at the Port City Rink in Oswego in preparation for the Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships in February. The Championships will be held in Lake Placid, N.Y., from Feb. 3-5. The Ice Effects will have to place in the top six to qualify for Nationals for the third consecutive year.