University drops synchronized skating team

Photo from pixabay.com

Lindenwood has dissolved its synchronized skating team, citing a lack of interest and a small squad as reasons for the move.

Team members found out about the dissolution in an email.

“I regret to inform you that, based on limited interest and a lower than expected roster, Lindenwood Athletics will no longer be offering synchronized skating as a Student Life Sport program, effective immediately,” Director of Student Life Sports Mike Elam said in the email sent to current and incoming team members.

Synchronized skating has had between 10 and 16 skaters according to Lindenwood’s website. Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Brad Wachler said rosters often include injured and inactive athletes.

In the message, Elam said that all grants for current and incoming student-athletes associated with the program will be honored during their remaining time as undergraduates at Lindenwood.

Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Brad Wachler said injuries and inactive skaters made it challenging to field a competitive team. Wachler accepted his position at Lindenwood in July 2016.

“Within the last year we’ve really been struggling to keep the roster at a high enough number to compete or to put a competitive team out there,” Wachler said. “Historically it’s been a challenge but more so within the last year.”

Elam and Wachler both said that if there’s enough interest, synchronized skating may be moved to a student-led club sport for the 2017-18 school year. So far, Wachler said he hasn’t seen any interest.

“Certainly that would be something we’re more than hoping to explore with those individuals,” he said.

Senior Carly Potts has been on the synchronized skating team since her freshman year. She said she was only looking at schools with skating programs when she enrolled at Lindenwood.

“I came to Lindenwood specifically for the team, and I would not have even looked into Lindenwood if they didn’t have a skating team,” Potts said. 

Potts said she thinks the team had enough skaters to compete up until their last competition, when a few skaters left the team. She said she’d like the team to continue as a club team but thinks it’s unlikely to happen.  

She said she’s hoping to turn skating into a career someday.

“Without the team this year I’m hoping to be able to focus more on individual skating,” Potts said. She said she might have an opportunity to go to non-collegiate nationals this year.

The team’s cancellation came shortly after the resignation of the team’s coach, which was announced in a university statement on March 10, 2017. The coach, Chelsea Wipfler, joined the program in September 2016 after leading the team to a first-place finish and two second-place showings at events during the 2016-17 season.

In the March statement, Elam said his goal was to find a new coach as quickly as possible.

When Wipfler’s predecessor, Coach Heather Hyatt, had announced her resignation in 2016, the university gave a similar response, stating that a national search for a new coach was underway.

Wachler said Wipfler’s resignation wasn’t the reason the team ended.

The synchronized skating team won collegiate titles at the Ice Skating Institute Synchronized Skating Championships in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and competed at events across the country. According to Lindenwood archives, the team has had four head coaches since it was founded in 2008.

In its last competition as a student life sport, the synchronized skating team took sixth place at the U.S. Figure Skating Sectional Championships in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on Jan. 26-29, 2017.

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