In only a few seasons, the Adrian College synchronized skating team has gone from a unit with modest success to a team in which to be reckoned.
For the first time in school history, Adrian College has qualified for the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, to be held Feb. 27-March 2 at Compuware Sports Arena in Plymouth.
And at least one area skater from Oakland County will be making the trip with the Bulldogs as a prime-time participant.
Alyssa Bremner, a Walled Lake Central High graduate, has parlayed her early ice skating experiences as a youngster into national competition as she anticipates the event.
"It's really exciting, especially since it's something the school has been working for a long time," said Bremner. "People have put in a lot of work for this. This is only my second year on the team, but it's really cool to be a part of history."
Intercollegiate skating, regulated by the U.S. Figure Skating Association and not the NCAA, is another skating avenue for collegiate skaters, according to Ashley Carlson, second-year coach at Adrian, and often overlaps with synchronized skating. Every member on the Adrian roster is from the synchronized team, and many college programs are similarly comprised.
Adrian is one of a handful of skating programs in the nation which are fully funded by the school.
This season, the Bulldogs have flourished under Carlson, in her second season of leading the team.
At the Hoosier Challenge last month in Columbus, Ind., Adrian came out on top against a field of teams which included Michigan State and several other Big Ten schools.
As the final skater on the day, and closing in on midnight, Bremner's performance, an intermediate free skating effort, was the clincher.
She needed to finish at least fourth out of 12 skaters for Adrian to win the event.
"Under a very high amount of pressure, she performed exceptionally well," said Carlson, who added that Adrian had previously never won a skating event of any kind.
Bremner knew the team's performance could hinge on her effort, but accepted the challenge.
"The program I was doing was one of my favorite programs," said Bremner. "I just went out there and had fun with it."
When the final standings were announced, with Adrian as the winner, the crew of skaters relished the victory.
"We were all like surprised and excited at the same time," Bremner said. "We didn't expect to do this well at all. We never expected it would go so well. It was just a really cool experience."
Bremner began skating as a four-year old and continued throughout high school, where she was a member of the skating team. She also did a season of track and field, and skated on an international team for several seasons.
When it came time to select a college, Adrian, with a fully-funded and growing skating program, was a clear choice.
"That was something I looked at," she said. "l thought it would be a cool opportunity to come here and help the program."
Bremner is majoring in biology and criminal justice with an interest in forensic crime scene studies.
To be sure, Bremner is enjoing her collegiate experience. "I like it a lot, it's not a big school ... you get a lot of individual attention from the professors and you know a lot of people on campus. Sports teams are close and you go to each others events.
"And you don't have to walk too far (when its cold)."
And, the Bulldogs won't have to travel far to Plymouth for nationals where they hope to shine.
"It's all about working for the team," she said.
March 24, 2013 Figure Skating Group Wins Maize and Blue Matchup
March 2, 2013 Synchronized Skating Finishes Ninth in Nationals Debut
February 25, 2013 Nationals Fundraiser a Huge Success
February 17, 2013 Bremner hopes to spark Synchronized Skating team at nationals
January 28, 2013 Intercollegiate Skating wins 2013 Hoosier Challenge
December 7, 2012 Skate for a Cause 2012 Raises Funds for Lenawee Humane Society