Club skates to success
When senior Bridget Carrig was a freshman, she knew she didn’t want to give up figure skating.
“I have loved figure skating for pretty much my entire life and I knew the guy who started the Towson Figure Skating Club in 2004…and when I found out that everyone was graduating and moving on I knew that I wanted to keep it going and I knew that I wanted to compete myself as well as continue skating through college,” current President of the Towson Figure Skating Club Carrig said.
She decided to reform the club.
The task proved to be more challenging than she had anticipated, but with the help of her current roommate Rachel Winter and fellow club member Sarah Viviani, they slowly began to make progress. It was more difficult due to the fact that after the previous members had graduated, the club was very small and close to being deemed inactive.
“Our freshmen year it was hard because we had to find people who skated and we were new to Towson so it was really difficult trying to get the club out there and we were just learning the rules of the sport club organization,” senior Viviani said.
Carrig said that another challenge was finding new members because figure skating is such a unique sport and many are not interested in pursing it after college due to the extensive amount of time and money needed for practice. However, Carrig and Viviani both believe that the club is a good way for anyone to practice skating regardless of their experience level.
“I didn’t even start skating until I came to college. It was something that I wanted to do my entire life and I knew how to skate forward or do basic things on the ice but figure skating was not something that I had a lot of background in,” Viviani said.
The club has members that range from the most basic level to senior level skaters who, like Carrig, have been skating for most of their life. Because of this diversity they have two sections of the club. One is recreational and the other is competitive, and about half of the 15 to 20 members are recreational.
“We are a chill group. We are competitive but if you don’t want to be competitive, you can be recreational too and just come practice,” Carrig said. “We just want to be able to share something with everyone.”
Viviani said that the cost and time commitments for the club are very low and reasonable. With dues starting at $50 for recreational members and $100 for competitive members, the cost is less than starting the sport independently. Practices are also only once a week, held on Sunday nights from around 8–9:20 p.m. at the nearby Mount Pleasant Ice Arena.
“It’s a good way to start off the week. Usually Sundays are a big homework day and a big studying day, so it’s a good time to just get away from all that and let everything out for like an hour or so and just relax,” Carrig said.
In addition to the difficulties with finding new members and keeping costs and time commitments low, the team also struggled at first with jumping into the collegiate skating circuit. It wasn’t until their fourth semester of fundraising and recruiting that Carrig and Viviani were able to bring the club to its first competition and it was only last year that they began a full competitive season.
This year the club received an influx of new skaters raising their number of competitors in their most recent competition at Cornell University from three or four to nine skaters who entered in a total of 19 of the possible 35 events.
Because of the way the judging system works, the more skaters you have and the more events you enter, the greater your chances of winning overall become. Last year, the Towson Figure Skating Club placed sixth out of the 20-25 schools in the East Coast region.
“We didn’t realize we were going to place so high,” Viviani said. “As I was driving home I was still thinking like ‘how did we do that. That’s crazy.’…But we have the talent on our team and it’s really nice to see it come out and to see us succeed at competition.”
Carrig said that their goal at this last competition was to gain exposure for Towson. She said that they were successful, beating out schools like New York University and Cornell, who generally place higher than them.
However, in their upcoming competitions in March the club hopes to move closer to their overall goal, to qualify for the U.S. Intercollegiate Team Figure Skating Championships.
“The top three schools in our division are really good and they have huge teams of like 20 people. It’s the same three schools that win every semester, and they go to Nationals every year,” Viviani said.
The University of Delaware, Dartmouth College and Boston University are the top teams in the region, but Carrig believes that with a lot of practice and participation in multiple events, Towson has a chance to make it to the national competition.
The club’s success comes primarily from teamwork, a rare trait found in figure skating, which is traditionally an individual sport. Although they do have a coach, Department of Mathematics Professor Diana Cheng, the skaters mostly work with and instruct one another.
“It is definitely a team effort to do well in the type of skating that we do, so it’s really cool to see the result at the end because you feel really good about helping someone get to a certain point and then when you see them succeed at a competition and then see the team succeed as a whole, it’s really awesome,” Viviani said.