‘An Incredible Legacy’: University of Delaware Synchronized Skating Team Builds Connections On and Off the Ice

The University of Delaware Synchronized Skating Team has created a legacy of connection, synchronicity and support through team bonding experiences.

By Taylor Dean

Connection. Synchronicity. Support.

These words describe traits a synchronized skating team creates together. On the ice, these characteristics are brought to life through the stories told by skaters’ skills and choreography. But the hard work put in at the rink wouldn’t be complete without developing those traits outside of it.

UD poses for a group photo with their hands in the air while sitting on a large bale of hay at a pumpkin patch
UDSST takes a trip to an apple orchard to kick off the school year

Since its inception in 1979, the University of Delaware Synchronized Skating Team has worked to build a legacy based on the characteristics of connection, synchronicity and support while giving collegiate skaters an outlet to express their love for skating. 

The work starts the moment a skater joins the team. They are immediately welcomed into a family that becomes an integral part of their college2024 experience.

“Coming into college can be such a big transition for some people – moving far away from home, living on your own for the first time,” said Lexi Quinn, 2023-24 UDSST president. “That’s something I was really worried about just because I’m so far away from home.

For Quinn, that transition was made easier through her involvement with the team.

“UDSST instantly gave me that family aspect at college, which I loved so much,” Quinn said. “Synchronized skating is such a niche sport, but I think having a group of 20 girls who all have a common interest and love for the sport and instantly clicking with them is so important. It definitely made the transition to college so much easier.”

To create that welcoming, familial atmosphere, UDSST puts together numerous team bonding events throughout the year. Before their welcome weekend, the sophomores invite the first-year students to bake cookies to get to know each other before meeting the team. During the team’s welcome weekend, the skaters head to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to work on their skating skills and get to work on the season’s programs. With freshmen moving in earlier than expected for the camp this past year, the upper-level students put together baskets with treats and decorations to embrace the new skaters.

In the fall, the team takes a trip to a local apple orchard to go apple picking, buy pumpkins and enjoy a fall festival to start the school year. Skaters also host multiple team dinners, including a potluck Friendsgiving.

“Even if it's not a designated team building activity, we're always spending time together on and off the ice, which is super important,” Quinn said. “It brings us closer together on the ice.”

University of Delaware stands in front of iconic Las Vegas sign.
2020 U.S. collegiate synchro pewter medalists returned to the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in Las Vegas in 2024. 

The team’s off-ice activities transcend beyond team bonding. The 2020 U.S. collegiate pewter medalists participate in UDance each year, a school-wide dance marathon benefiting the B+ Foundation. This organization gives financial and emotional support to families with kids affected by cancer. Each group involved with UDance sets a fundraising goal. In 2024, UDSST met and exceeded their $9,000 goal, contributing to the University of Delaware’s $1.8 million raised for the Foundation.

“It’s always a lot of fun to do that with your teammates, and it's nice to be a part of too, because it's a cause that we really care about,” 2023-24 UDSST Vice President Callie Hofeling said.

Those important off-ice moments create a supportive environment at the rink, as the team trains throughout the season to build on their legacy as 23-time Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectional collegiate champions. Quinn and Hofeling, who graduated this spring, will join a growing list of alums who will continue pushing that legacy forward.

“We talk about legacy and the skaters are very much connected to the past and present,” said UDSST Coach Megan O’Donnell. “Their lives are intertwined. Even though you leave, you graduate and move on, you’re still part of this bigger picture and family. I think that’s what makes UDSST super special.”

The team honors those alumni with special events throughout the year, including a Homecoming tailgate to connect recent graduates and an alumni. During the university’s I Heart UD Giving Day fundraising campaign in May, the team won a Power Hour bonus for having the most donations in one hour, a significant credit going to the team’s connection to their alumni.

UDSST alumni stay involved in synchro, many joining Team Delaware’s adult team.

UD takes a selfie in front of the arena.
UDSST takes a selfie in front of the arena at the 2024 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. 

“The adult team's super supportive of UDSST,” Quinn said. “They watch us at every competition and cheer for us because most, if not all of them, were on UDSST. So it's just super cool to have such a fan base at competitions and that support from them.”

UDSST continues to build its legacy as the team invites students to try out for the team. For high school seniors, the team holds a recruitment weekend each semester, where potential new skaters can meet the team, skate with them and learn more about what it means to be a part of UDSST. Their next recruitment weekend is planned for October 17-19, 2024. More information is available on their website.

As the team looks toward next season, Coach Wendy Deppe admires the people their students grow into, thanks to the support from the team.

“The skaters that we've had over the years are outstanding, amazing humans,” Deppe said. “They go out, they do such good things at the college for four years, then they go out in the world to become such productive citizens. They’re out there being productive citizens in the world, making the world a much better place.”

The experiences gained through the team are ones that skaters will hold with them for the rest of their lives.

“It’s amazing to see yourself and others grow in the time you're on UDSST,” Hofeling students. “It's really special that we have such amazing teammates and we have such amazing coaches who've created this incredible environment for people to grow and thrive in. I'm very grateful to have had the experience, and everyone who leaves UDSST is really proud of everything they've accomplished. We're all very lucky to be able to be a part of this incredible legacy.”