Grosse Pointe unified figure skating team ready to take on the season

Anna Gulyas '23, copy editor

The Grosse Pointe Unified Figure Skating Team is a unique highschool team that combines South, North and Liggett student skaters, differing from other school sports that only include members from one specific school.

The team is split into three groups based on ability– the A, B and C teams (A being the highest and C being the lowest), yet each group is considered varsity. The team focuses on technical work and competes in three regular season meets a year, as well as potentially a state meet, each showcasing the skaters’ skills.

“(We practice) every other week for about 30 minutes as a group,” A-team skater Ryleigh O’Donoghue ’23 said. “There are different elements that we compete with so the coach picks someone who is the best at that specific element to go and compete against other schools at a meet with it.”

According to O’Donoghue, as for the meets themselves, the skaters from each school or team will stand on the ice until their name is called for the element they’re assigned to and then go out and perform it.

“There are three different groups of elements– jumps, spins and moves,” O’Donoghue said. “The judges will judge you and give you points based on how well it went. Then the points just combine for all the schools and there can be a winner for each of those groups.”

In the past, the team has typically made it to the state meet, however, according to team captain and North student Lucy Turrini ’22, the most gratifying moments are often experienced in the regular season meets.

“Last year our last competition was really memorable because everyone on our team did pretty well,” Turrini said. “We ended up getting first in the district which was really fun and rewarding.”

According to Turrini, each of the skaters on the team are a part of the Skating Club at the St. Clair Shores Civic Arena where they skate individually, meaning all of the teammates have already known each other outside of the unified team.

“It’s really nice (having a unified team) since I don’t just skate with them on this team– we all skate at the same rink in general,” Turrini said. “We’re all friends already.”

O’Donoghue mentioned she overall enjoys having the dynamic of a team with members from three different schools, however it does eliminate certain elements of competition that other highschool teams can have.

“(The unified team) kind of gets rid of some of that rivalry that we have in Grosse Pointe,” O’Donoghue said. “(For other sports) there’s so much that you get so excited for like the games against North or Liggett or something. But our team kind of eliminates that rivalry because we don’t really know any of the schools we’re going up against at the competitions.”

B-team skater and Liggett student Sophia Kalyvas ’23 mentioned that with all the aspects of the unified skating team being considered, it creates a positive and unique atmosphere she is thankful for.

“I really enjoy having all my different teammates and the dynamic we have is unparalleled,” Kalyvas said. “We’ve created a super welcoming environment and knowing all my teammates for so long can be super uplifting in a competitive setting.”