WEST ORANGE, NJ - The Synchroettes, a team of skaters who compete in competitions nationally and all over the world, performed their annual exhibition on Dec. 22 to packed stands at the Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange. The evening was a benefit for the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Drive, and more than 600 toys were donated through the exhibition.
The Synchroettes are a division of the Essex Skating Club of NJ, which is based out of the arena. 190 skaters make up 10 teams: Junior, Novice, Intermediate, Juvenile, Open Juvenile, Pre Juvenile, Preliminary, Beginner 2, Beginner 1 and Beginner Exhibition. All of the teams performed in the exhibition.
Synchroettes General Manager Ellen Rose said the annual benefit is an important part of the skating program.
“In addition to teaching our members great skating skills, our program promotes the importance of community service,” she said. “The skaters take great pride in helping children less fortunate than themselves enjoy the holiday season.”
No greater supporters could be found in the stands than the unsung heroes: the moms and dads, who bring their girls to practices, sometimes early in the morning. But mom Denise Bissett said it is all worth the time and effort.
“My daughter came to the rink one day and saw the girls practicing in their red vests, and she wanted to be part of the team,” she said. “This is an outstanding program, where girls learn to become part of and big organization and in the process become something bigger than themselves. They’ve taken my shy daughters—one is in Juniors and one in Beginner Exhibition—and helped them become true skaters.”
Synchronized skating is a fifty-year old sport that began in the United States. It has joined the men’s, ladies, pairs, and ice dance competitions as the fourth discipline. ‘Synchro’ as the sport is known by its fans, is sanctioned by The US Figure Skating Association and the International Skating Union. It is considered to be the fastest growing part of competitive figure skating with more than 500 teams and 5,000 skaters competing across the United States.
All photos taken by Joe Ricci.