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PABSC synchro teams impress at provincials

Left, from left: Star 4. Coach Stacey Dray, Emily Ann Short, Abigail Harris, Allison Kendall, Danielle Keeping, Avery Keeping, Lucy Anderson, Emma Quilty and Gracie Clarke. Right, front row: Star 8. Gina Carroll, Ashleigh Ingram, Jenna Gilliam, Ashley Keeping, Mikayla Allen and Kelsey Fagan. Back row: Coach Stacey Dray, Jenna Dominie, Brooklyn Dicks, Anna Keeping, Natalie Kettle, Leah Leamon and Keegan Strickland. – Submitted

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES — With two teams returning from the Synchronized Provincial Championships in Conception Bay South (CBS), the Port aux Basques Skating Club (PABSC) is on a high, celebrating both teams who did quite well at the competition. The championship took place on March 10 and 11, and the Star 4 and Star 8 synchro teams both went up in their standings in comparison to their last virtual competition. Star 4 achieved fifth place in their category and Star 8 took home the silver. “Everyone beyond enjoyed themselves,” said April Dicks, President of the Port aux Basques Skating Club. “Synchro is different from individual skating. Synchro is a team event, and no matter what competition we enter in synchro, it has the absolute best sportsmanship on the island, and probably across the nation. It’s an event where you see teams cheering for other teams. There’s no animosity. There’s no negativity. It’s a very upbeat, enjoyable experience for anyone who enters that building, no matter where it is. It’s a different experience compared to other sports I’ve experienced, that’s for sure.” The Star 4 team has only been together this season, so their achievement was very special to them and Dicks said it was a wonderful highlight having them included. “They were a new team that formed this year and it was a new category. Each year categories can change slightly, so for us it was a new team that entered, and they also entered the Elizabeth Swan virtual competition earlier in the winter. They increased their placement as well. They had a fantastic skate. They were right where they needed to be. They fit well within the category, and to come fifth overall, they were really pleased, especially since they came eighth in the previous competition, so they had a vast improvement too.” Star 8 fought hard to bring home the silver. “Any of the categories that you enter, whether it’s Star 4 or above, they all are pretty competitive because you’ve got teams from right across Newfoundland and Labrador. Synchro is really big in our province. We have healthy numbers in every category, so we knew there was going to be stiff competition in any category that we entered for sure,” said Dicks. “The Star 8 category is required to skate twice, the same program, but they have to skate it twice. The first skate they have is worth half the points and that’s anyone in the category. So when they finished their first skate, there was some disappointment and fear, I think, because they were in fifth place overall. Second place to fifth place was really tight. It could go either way because they were really close, but when they went on the second day, on Saturday, they just had this presence. They have a presence on the ice anyhow, but they were ready. They had regrouped on Friday evening with their coach, set their focus on what they needed to do, and they went in and skated probably the best I’ve ever seen them skate, and they came out in second place.” The team was extremely proud of their placement. “They are ecstatic. They placed second last year as well in the same competition, but this year was a bit different of a feeling when they finished in fifth place on Friday night, so knowing they were able to climb into second, that gave even more excitement. The scores are announced as the teams are skating and that team was the fourth to skate, so you’re just listening and waiting and hoping you will keep your place and they stayed in first place right to the very end, until the last team skated, and they were pushed into second.” Dicks said Synchro Coach Stacey Dray is the backbone of the synchro program at PABSC. “I remember the exact day she looked at us and said, ‘What do you think of synchro? I’d like to try it,’ and we hadn’t had synchro for years at our club. We had it previously, but it had been a long time without it, and I remember a couple of us looking at her and saying we are running with this and we did. We did not look up. We put our heads down, ran, put together everything we needed to do. We had announcements for kids to come try out for synchro, and we started 10 years ago with Stacey. If she didn’t offer that to our club, I’m unsure that we would’ve been able to build the way we did over the years that we’ve had,” said Dicks. “From there on we’ve built it. She’s committed. From day one she committed. Her heart is there, and she shows up.” Now that the provincials are over, the focus of the club will shift since the competitive season has ended. “Now we will turn our focus onto tryouts for next year. We do have six graduating skaters from the Star 8 team this year, so that’s going to have a huge impact next year on how we build our team for the season. This team, the Star 8 team, the majority of those skaters have been skating together on the team for 10 years, so to lose six skaters this year is a huge impact to the team, but it made that competition that much more special, knowing that is their last competitive skate they will have together. I think they really enjoyed their skate on Saturday for that reason too. They knew it would be their last competitive skate together as a team,” said Dicks. “For the new team, the Star 4 team, that was really special too, because they were able to come to the competition with the Star 8, traveling together, and they were able to experience the competition for the very first time.” The enjoyment of the skaters is the number one reason why Dicks believes the skating club is worth every second of effort. “We’ve had such a big season this season. We just ended the Winter Golden Skatetacular. We went right into synchro competition. We had individual skating competitions where skaters entered divisionals and moved on to provincials, and now we’ve got our ice show that we’re planning. It’s been a huge season for us and it makes volunteering easy when you see the outcomes of the skaters and how pleased they are,” said Dicks. “I love skating anyway, period. For me it’s where I put a lot of my focus with volunteering and I have a skater of my own. It’s a sport where kids get to learn the skill of skating, but they also get to learn leadership and sportsmanship, how to skate together, and individual skating where they can really focus on their own goals and achievements. And seeing how these teams came together over the weekend, and just really enjoyed the experience, and all the planning that went into this by volunteers, parents, skaters, and coaches, everyone who put any ounce of time into it, it makes it all worthwhile when you see the skaters enjoy these experiences like they do. It really is the icing on the cake at the end of the season.”

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