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February 5, 2013

Skating troop made up of locals goes for national title Feb. 28

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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The Eclipse Synchronized Skating team comprises skaters from all over Oakland and Macomb counties. There are 15 skaters on the team, made up of adults who are all at least 30 years old. The troop will compete with 11 other teams in the Masters Division of the 2013 U.S. Synchronized Skating National Championships, set for Feb. 28-March 2 at Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Mich.

FRASER — A group of 15 skaters from Macomb and Oakland counties will compete against 11 other teams from across the U.S. to decide which is the best synchronized skating team in the country Feb. 28-March 2.

These aren’t your typical skaters, though. They’re all adults with jobs, careers and families who’ve made the time to be a part of the Eclipse Synchronized Skating Team, which trains and practices out of Great Lakes Sports City in Fraser.

The 2013 U.S. Synchronized Skating National Championships take place at Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Mich. The Masters Championship — the division the Eclipse troop competes in — is slated for 3:30 p.m. March. 2.

“For any team to get to this point, it takes constant dedication,” said Eclipse coach Cindy Baran, a Sterling Heights resident who relaunched the team in 2010.

The team moved up to the Adult Masters Division after competing in the Open Adult Division for two years. Divisions are broken down by age and test requirements, according to Baran, who also skates with the Eclipse team. The Eclipse troop, which also has a “juvenile” team that skates out of Fraser, moved into the Masters division this year after meeting some eligibility and age requirements, Baran added. To qualify for the masters division, the majority of team members must be at least 30 years old.

“The adult divisions are truly unique because many of the men and women who are on these teams in this division are married, work full time, have families, etc.,” Baran said. “Fitting in the time for yourself and the commitment to your teammates is a constant juggling act.”

Shelby Township resident Angelina Van Buren, who has skated with the Eclipse team for three years, said having a supportive family is key. Van Buren, who skated for 13 years as a youth, said her family understands this is a unique opportunity for her, adding her children and other relatives attend Eclipse competitions to cheer her and her teammates on.

Baran said the members of her team have perfected the balancing act. The squad meets each Sunday in Fraser for three hours of practice for 25 straight weeks starting after Labor Day. Twelve skaters compete in each competition during a four-event season that runs June 1-March 2.

Each member of the squad has previous skating exerpience as a youth. Two of the team members were Fraserettes — a sychronized youth team that skated at Fraser in the 1980s — according to Baran, whose been skating for 27 years and coaching for 13.

The Eclipse team has enjoyed some success this season, winning the Mid-America Synchronized Skating Championships, held Jan. 11-13 in Fraser. The squad  placed second at the 2013 Midwestern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships, which took place Jan. 24-26 in Kalamazoo.

“It’s really cool to be with a group of people who love the sport. We have an amazing team,” Van Buren said. “It’s really an awesome experience. We know we all have things going on outside of the team, but when we come together, it’s like a family.

The troop is always on the lookout for new members, according to Baran. The Eclipse team holds auditions each spring — in April or May — to form its team for the upcoming season. Making the squad depends on a combination of test level, skill, experience and age, Baran said.

“I hadn’t skated for 25 years before I joined (Eclipse) this year,” said Harrison Township resident Jennifer Malik, a member of the Fraserettes in 1982. Malik said she was looking for a way to exercise without going to the gym when she joined the troop. She said she enjoys the competition and camaraderie the team has built, adding that anyone who may want to try out for the squad should go for it.

“It’s not like riding a bicycle. It takes some time to get it back, but you feel really good when you do,” Malik said.

Van Buren said having the chance at a national title is special to her and her teammates. She said it’s a different feeling, though, since a lot of the skaters competed for national titles as youths.

“It’d be awesome (to win a national title),” Baran said. “We’ve done great things over the past three seasons. Most of the members of this particular team have not competed for a national championship in 10-20 years. We couldn’t be more excited to have this opportunity together.”

Anyone interested in trying out for the Eclipse team can contact Baran at (586) 770-4581 or cbskate331@aol.com.


The Eclipse Synchronized Skating team, made up of adults from all over Macomb and Oakland counties, will compete against 11 other teams in the 2013 U.S. Synchronized Skating National Championships, set for Feb. 28-March 2 at Compuware Arena in Plymouth.

Here’s a list of all the troop members:
• Cynthia Baran, Sterling Heights
• Krista Brejla, Warren
• Michelle DeCook, Imlay City
• Deena De La Rosa, Ferndale
• Angelina DiPiazza, Chesterfield
• DaNeil Gorgon, Imlay City
• Angelina House, Washington Township
• Carol Huetteman, Macomb
• Jennifer Malik, Harrison Township
• Lauren McLarty, Sterling Heights
• Jennifer Okony, Sterling Heights
• Angelina Van Buren, Shelby Township
• Katie Ventimiglia, Sterling Heights
• Jennifer Whiteside, Auburn Hills
• Deanna Willmarth, Shelby Township

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.