Iced Brew revives skating scene

Image courtesy of Iced Brew.

Vassar cannot offer varsity programs for all sports—some must inevitably be omitted due to the small size of the school and limited facilities. Because Vassar does not have an ice rink and does not offer any varsity sports on ice, a noticeable group of athletes are left out of collegiate leagues. Hockey players and figure skaters, for example, arrive at Vassar having to leave their skates at home. This semester, however, Iced Brew—the ice skating club—has officially reopened after being on hiatus last year.

Iced Brew has been a long-standing club at Vassar, dating back to 2010 when Hannah Erdheim ’10 originally founded the club as a synchronized skating team. Erdheim, a skater herself for nine years, desired to attend Vassar despite its lack of a skate team, and in fact came to Vassar with the intent to start a skate team. She wrote on Vassar’s recollection website in the section “Memories”: “I was drawn to Vassar for its academics and atypical student body over my desire to skate. Therefore, I decided to try and have the best of both worlds and start a team at Vassar.” The club was so small at first that they did not have enough members to compete, as synchronized skating requires at least eight participants. With no coach and completely student-run, Erdheim’s ambition for the club to compete against other colleges seemed far-off. Yet, Erdheim was determined to see this club through. In the following years, as the club became more popular, they were able to obtain coach Deirdre Bonanno and grow the team from six to 24 members, according to the 2011 Miscellany News article “Club offers Vassar skaters new opportunities on rink.” 

Though the synchronized skate team desired to compete collegiately, it still left room for inexperienced skaters to join. The team divided itself into three groups: competitors, who were guaranteed to skate in competitions, alternates, who were expected to know all of the positions in the case they had to sub in at a competition, and trainers, who were there to learn and practice without the pressure or expectation of competing. The team practiced once a week at the McCann Ice Arena, formerly known as the MidHudson Civic Center, and held off-ice skating at the Athletic Fitness Center (AFC) on campus. Their season ran from September to February with two competitions: the Terry Connors Synchronized Skating Open in December and the Eastern Sectional Championships at the conclusion of the season. In 2011, Iced Brew placed ninth in the Eastern Sectionals at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid against colleges that have more established skating programs such as Boston College, Hamilton College and University of Delaware. Nevertheless, Iced Brew accomplished what did not seem possible at the time: To form a synchronized skating team from the ground up and offer skating for both those who wanted to continue their athletic career along with those who just wanted to learn. Erdheim reflected on the same website, “It’s been a challenging, yet incredibly rewarding three years. I may have had to build everything up from scratch, including many of the members who had never skated before, but I’ve loved every minute of it. To me, being the founder and president of Iced Brew is the greatest accomplishment of my college career.”

Today, Iced Brew honors its past by providing free and accessible skating for the student body. The impact of COVID-19 left the club with some contractual issues with the rink because of their change in ownership, thus the club had a difficult time hosting skates last year. However, the new executive board this semester was able to find a solution: Instead of renting out the entire rink as the club did previously, they would provide transportation and cover admission, a pair of rental skates and a concession item for Vassar students during public skate times. President of Iced Brew Sophia Maron Schaeffer ’26 commented: “The main goal of the org is to provide free and accessible ice skating for all students. We want students to be able to skate for fun with their friends in a comfortable environment without the stress of finding transportation or spending money.”

The club attracts several students, especially former hockey players and figure skaters. Iced Brew, for them, is a way to continue their sport, even if it is in a leisurely, less competitive fashion. Treasurer of Iced Brew Becca Weinstein ’25 expressed why she joined the club as an executive member: “I’ve always been a recreational hockey athlete. I’d like more than anything to play hockey again, but the circumstances that I’m in—at a school that doesn’t have a rink or a team—it’s the best of the situation. I love hockey, but the part I love the most is skating, and so Iced Brew gives me a chance to keep skating and get better.” Indeed, several of the executive board members were former skaters themselves in some capacity. Maron Schaeffer has been figure skating since she was four years old, and Vice President Katrina Wu ’26 began figure skating at the age of 17, though she skates two to three times a week at McCann Ice Arena on her own. The leaders of the club all share a passion for their respective skating sports. They hope to make skating available for the student body so everyone can have the opportunity to see just how much fun skating is. Wu stated, “There’s this misconception that skating is just for kids and you have to start young to be good at it. But that’s not true, skating is for everyone and it’s never too late to start.”

Image courtesy of Iced Brew.

The club’s next skate is Saturday, Feb. 24 at McCann Ice Arena. With their increasing popularity this semester, there are limited spots available on the vans. However, even if you do not sign up for the vans, Iced Brew emphasized that anyone who shows up to the rink will have their admission fee, skate rentals and concession item covered. Though its foundations lie as a synchronized skating team, Iced Brew is a club for students of any experience who simply want to skate. In fact, a large majority of those who come have never skated before. The best way to learn or improve your skating skills is to practice, and there is no better way to do so than with your friends—and for free.

Image courtesy of Iced Brew.

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