Student-Athlete Competed in US Nationals for Synchronized Skating
Brockport has provided senior Samantha Ruiz a chance to continue her skating career while pursuing her degree.
A SUNY Brockport student-athlete took to the ice to compete in the U.S. nationals for synchronized skating.
Senior Samantha Ruiz skates for local synchronized skating team Mirror Images on its collegiate team. Unlike other college athletes, Ruiz doesn’t wear Brockport’s green and gold. Her team encompasses students from multiple western and central New York colleges and universities.
The 2020 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships were held in Rhode Island from February 26 to 29. Mirror Images is one of 12 teams in the country that competed at the collegiate level.
Ruiz started figure skating when she was about 10 years old. While she enjoyed skating singles, Ruiz began to look for a team atmosphere, one she found in synchronized skating.
Synchronized skating originated in 1956 and was formerly known as "precision skating." As of this year, about 600 synchronized skating teams exist in America. Teams range from eight to 20 skaters with 18 different levels. Synchronized skating is judged on the same systems as singles, pairs, and ice dancers.
Her path to Brockport and nationals
Ruiz was a high-school sophomore in Liverpool, NY, when she began to travel back and forth to Rochester to be part of Mirror Images.
“I live to perform and be there in the moment,” she said.
When it was time to head off to college, only two nearby SUNYs could give her a chance to skate.
“I came to Brockport because I wanted to continue my synchronized figure-skating career and continue to grow as a skater without being too far from home,” said Ruiz, who is a healthcare administration major with minors in alcohol and substance abuse studies and women and gender studies.
Ruiz says she has grown as a person through skating, becoming more motivated and confident. She’s held a spot on the open-collegiate/collegiate team throughout all four of her years at Brockport.
“She has always been motivated and eager to skate and push herself as a skater. She encourages and supports her teammates to succeed as well,” said Andrea Auer, president of the Mirror Images collegiate team.
This year was the first that the team qualified for nationals.
“We work really hard to get to where we are at, and after countless hours of practice, we finally are able to show what we’ve worked so hard for,” Ruiz said.
But being a college athlete not part of Brockport Athletics comes with some challenges.
“It takes a lot of understanding from professors when we miss classes, especially considering it’s not common. So, it’s often hard for some people to understand,” she explained.
She has driven 30 minutes each way to practice, traveling frequently and sometimes needing to look for rides.
“As far as being a collegiate athlete goes, it takes a lot of time management. But I find it worth it when we get to perform together," said Ruiz.
Performing at nationals was her last performance as a college athlete. “We brought our all,” she said. “It was such a good way to end the year.”