Sophomores Find Success in Skating
By Kate Clemenz
Although Northside offers a wide array of sports and extracurricular opportunities, sometimes students find their callings outside of the building. Sophomores Naomi Leadbeater, Adv. 103, and Jill Mark, Adv. 108, are both on a competitive ice skating team at McFetridge Sports Center. They also participate in solo competitions, and have had very successful seasons this year.
Leadbeater and Mark both qualified for the Midwestern Section Synchronized Skating Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They participated in multiple competitions throughout the season that provided them with the opportunity to go to sectionals, as they have in the past. The exciting thing about this year, Mark said, is that “we broke our organization's score record which means we have a higher chance of qualifying for nationals for future seasons.”
Competitive skating demands commitment. According to Mark, a typical practice consists of a five-minute warmup, strength and endurance drills, and practicing for competitions. Their team practices every Monday from 6:30-9:30 PM, and every Thursday from 5:30-6:30 AM at the McFetridge Sports Center. Mark said, “To be eligible to compete on our level we are required to skate a minimum of two hours a week outside of practice, usually before school.” They have both been skating for twelve years -- Leadbeater has been on the team for eight years, and Mark for seven.
Competitions are a large part of skating as well. Describing a typical competition, Mark said that “Usually we [the team] drive to the competition and have a practice in front of judges that night. Then we wake up very early the next morning and spend about 2 hours doing hair and makeup with the team.” She went on to explain the rest of the day and said that their team takes a bus to the competition venue and spends around thirty minutes warming up. After that, they head to the locker rooms where they play music to get pumped up and put on their skates and dresses. Right before they skate, they listen to the music that will play as they skate and try to visualize their performance. Then, it is time to compete.
According to Mark, a typical competition program “Consists of moving and pivoting shapes such as wheels, circles, lines, along with intersections.” During each performance, there are sixteen skaters on the ice at a time. The team that Leadbeater and Mark are on has twenty competitors, so there are always four alternates. Each program is approximately three minutes long, and Mark said that “We are judged based on the elements we perform and how well we do them.” They are given two different scores: a technical score and a component score. The technical score is based on how difficult the routine is and how neat the performance is. The component score is based on “Skating skills, transitions between elements, interpretation of the music, and presentation,” according to Mark.
Leadbeater and Mark both emphasized how important skating is to them. “We both really love all our friends on the team and having a really close group of people that is almost like a second family,”said Mark, who also praised the sport for being a good form of exercise. She also said she appreciates that skating is “A good mix of athleticism and strength and performance skills and gracefulness.” Mark also said that she would like to skate in college; however, it is not necessarily a deciding factor of where she will end up going to school.
As anyone who participates in an extracurricular they care about would understand, adding another activity to an already-full day can be a lot. However, Leadbeater and Mark make it clear that hard work and dedication pay off. They have a few goals for themselves over the next few years. “We really want our team to qualify for nationals before we graduate and individually we want to pass high-level tests,” said Mark.