Senior Lauren Gendzier completes nationallyPublished: April 5, 2012
Despite no ice rink on campus, Lauren Gendzier ’12 has found a way to enter the competitive world of synchronized skating, a sport defined by the U.S. Figure Skating Association as “a fast growing sport,” with approximately 525 synchronized teams registered in the United States. It is an intense team sport, in which eight to 20 skaters perform the same footwork at the exact same time, matching speed and changing formations. Gendzier is a member of Team Excel Collegiate, which was founded in 2009 and represents the Skating Club of Boston.
Growing up in Orlando, Fla., Gendzier explains that in her town, the ice rink was housed in an athletic complex where various sports teams practiced, including the professional basketball team. Her mother worked at this sports complex, and as a child Gendzier spent her afternoons there. At eight years old she decided to take up ice skating since the rink was at her disposal. Gendzier fell in love with the sport. A freestyle skater in high school, she tried her hand at synchronized skating by joining the recreational team. Laughing, she notes now that she “wouldn’t call that real synchro,” given her intense experience here in the Boston area at the collegiate level.
A business and sociology major, Gendzier chose Brandeis not only because of its academics but also because, at the time, she could bike three miles to an ice rink and continue skating. As the New England weather made biking more difficult, she refused to give up the sport; instead renting a zip car and eventually switching rinks. Here she practiced on her own despite being away from her coach in Florida.
Gendzier became even more motivated by her newfound commitment to synchronized skating and the people on her team. Team Excel Collegiate consists of 21 members, all studying full time at different colleges. While the skating is demanding because 16 people are skating on the ice at the same time, matching complex footwork, she claims it is rewarding. Gendzier acknowledges the benefit of meeting girls from different schools who share a love of skating but have different life experiences.
It is not only this emotional bond that Gendzier has gained: Team Excel Collegiate routinely succeeds on a very competitive level. The team took fifth place out of 13 teams in the 2012 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, held on the first weekend of March at the Skating Club of Boston in Worcester, Mass. This was a nationwide competition, pitting the top teams from the East, Midwest, and Pacific Coast against each other.
This past weekend, Gendzier performed in Ice Chips, The Skating Club of Boston’s annual showcase for skating. This year celebrated the club’s 100 Years of Excellence, and featured performances from within the club itself, along with special guest skaters who were previous Olympic champions. Gendzier herself participated in the adult number to music from “Mame,” and her team skated their final performance of the season.
Gendzier has been influential in bringing skating to Brandeis. President of the Brandeis Ice Skating Club for two years, the club offers students the chance to go ice-skating for free. The recreational club accepts skaters of all levels and allows students to rent skates from the rink. Gendzier describes that her duties involved contacting the rink and planning events, so that club members were able to go skating four to five times a semester. She also notes that she was responsible for watching over their safety at the rink.
Gendzier is unsure of her future after graduation. This past year, she has also tackled ice dancing, a sport popularized by TV coverage during the Olympics. Ice dancing involves set patterns on the ice with different types of footwork. Involving a male and female partner, it is extremely intense and intends to show a sort of relationship that goes with the music. As Gendzier moves away from Brandeis, she notes that her skating will depend on where she decides to live. If she stays in the Boston area, the Skating Club of Boston offers synchronized skating on a non-collegiate level, one in which she would still be able to participate. If life takes her elsewhere, Gendzier will have to find another route to continue her skating. Gendzier has pursued her love of the sport thus far from her unlikely roots in Florida to skating at Brandeis despite the school not having a team. She is not likely to give up now, regardless of her post graduation plans.