Figure skaters aim to establish club at Augustana

Figure skaters aim to establish club at Augustana
Sophomore Jenna Ebert, junior Sophia Eisma and freshman Elena DeHaas promote the Augustana University Figure Skating Club at the annual Student Activities Fair on Thursday, Sept. 7. Photo submitted by Sophia Eisma.

Last fall, one freshman decided to address the lack of opportunities for college students passionate about figure skating. Her solution: proposing the Augustana University Figure Skating Club.

Now in her sophomore year, Mikayla Kolbeck said the club is starting to progress.

Some of the club’s first events will take place this fall in the form of Late Nights, Recreational Service’s once-a-month events for students. Kolbeck said the group plans to hold events at the SCHEELS IcePlex or at outdoor rinks until the Midco Arena is up and running.

“We will start competing next fall and begin training [for competitions] this spring,” Kolbeck said.

The Augustana University Figure Skating Club is still in the works, but the group has five members in leadership positions. In the coming weeks, the club hopes to complete the process of gaining approval from the Augustana Student Association.

Currently, the club has established their constitution and Recreational Services Director Mark Hecht serves as their adviser. Kolbeck said she hopes the club will be up and running by October or November.

The club’s leaders hope to make the club a safe space for skaters of all skill levels.

“The Augustana University Figure Skating Club will hopefully be for skaters at all levels,” Kolbeck said. “I’m most excited [about] starting a skating community on campus. I hope to start a club that creates an environment that all skaters feel welcome in.”

The club plans to offer some beginner skating classes for people interested in participating who might be nervous about their skill set.

While the club hopes to eventually compete with other teams, that doesn’t rule out inexperienced skaters.

Junior Sophia Eisma, the club’s vice president, said that not every competition requires complex routines and, with enough practice, new skaters could compete.

Junior Lillian Derynck, the club’s treasurer, advises new skaters to be patient and trust the process. Derynck has been skating since she was young. She began coaching figure skating in Sioux Falls after graduating high school. She said she loves seeing the confidence that skating brings to people.

“There is definitely a learning curve at first, but once you get comfortable on the ice, there is so much to learn and achieve,” Derynck said.

Eisma has been skating since she was 7-years-old.

When she found out about the potential club last year, Eisma said she was immediately on board.

“Skating itself — it’s so cliché — but it’s like flying,” Eisma said. “It takes you out of reality. It's otherworldly.”

Sophomore Jenna Ebert, the club’s secretary, is an avid figure skater of 14 years. Like Eisma, having an opportunity to continue skating is very important to her.

“I enjoy figure skating because it challenges me and makes me want to improve,” Ebert said. “It’s important to me to have the ability to continue skating because it has been such a huge part of my life.”