By Amanda Mack, News Editor
Coming off of their third place finish at the Eastern sectional championships last year, the Nantucket Island Waves synchronized skating team had big plans for this season. Unfortunately, as with most things this year, synchronized skating looked very different. Normally the team would hold optional practices over the summer with mandatory ones starting after labor day. This year, however, the team did not begin practices until October 4th. For the first few weeks, skaters were not even allowed to connect. Instead, they practiced skills and footwork separated, and eventually held skate guards in between them in order to not directly hold hands. This is one of many safety measures taken by both the team and the rink in order to keep everyone healthy. Masks were worn at all times, hands were sanitized frequently, no one was allowed in the locker rooms, skaters had to sign in upon arrival, and there were designated entrance and exit doors. After the first few weeks, coach Kristin Barone decided it was safe for the team to connect, allowing them to work on the program more efficiently.
Members of the team this year are Seniors Amanda Mack, Reese Burns, Caroline Harding, Sydney Ryder, and Audrey Harrington, Junior Lily Richard, Sophomore Natalie Mack, Freshman Karina Valdez, 8th graders Peter Decarlo and Maddie Defrancisi, and 7th grader Sadie Paterson. This year’s captains are Amanda Mack, Reese Burns, and Natalie Mack. This season, the team participated in two competitions, and they were both virtual. In a normal year the team would travel to four competitions across the east coast. Since events were virtual, teams from across the world were able to participate, and judges from across the world were able to judge. The first competition was the Porter Classic in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The team recorded a video of their program at the end of one of their practices, and submitted it to be judged. Once all of the participating teams were judged, a livestream was created so all team members, coaches, families, and friends could view their team skate from the safety of their own home, and find out their score and what place they got. In an effort to make the moment more special, the team all got on a zoom call and watched the performance together. The Island Waves placed 4th out of 8 in their flight. The second competition is the Colonial Classic. The team has filmed and submitted their video, but will not find out their score and place until after the holiday break.
Whie this season did look drastically different, it was memorable nonetheless. As Senior Captain Burns puts it, “no athlete expected to finish their high school sports like this. But skating isn’t like other sports. Our seasons typically last around 6 to 7 months and revolve around us traveling to a variety of competitions around the east coast. As something I have been doing for over 10 years, it’s really hard to say goodbye to a season that never felt real. As anti-climactic as it was, I can’t say it was memorable. I’m so happy to have been able to get on the ice every week with my team to skate. Those girls (and Peter) are my best friends and my family and I wish we could have been able to finish our season like we hoped but I’m beyond proud of how far we have come.”
Similarly, senior captain Amanda Mack feels, “…so lucky to have been able to skate as much as we did, but it is still hard knowing we will never skate together again. I am so proud of how hard every one of us worked this season even though it was so far from normal. That dedication reminded me of how much this team has taught me over the years. This season helped me to truly appreciate everything about this sport including all of the memories I have.”
Unfortunately, there are five seniors graduating this year, leaving the team with only six members. In order to compete, a synchro team needs to have eight members. For this reason, this will likely be the last season for the Island Waves until more skaters are ready to join the team. Captain Amanda Mack remarked, “When I started skating twelve years ago, we had three full teams. To think that next year they will be left with only six synchro skaters is heartbreaking. I am hopeful that in the future more kids can get on the ice and become interested in synchro so that the legacy of the Island Waves can continue. I met my second family through this sport, and I want other people to get to experience what I did.”
The team will continue to practice throughout January. Their last performance will be at a small exhibition at the end of the month. Skaters will be doing solos, duets, and trios, in addition to their synchro program. As of now only parents of skaters will be allowed to attend, but it will be a special way to finish out this unique season nonetheless.