Not many sophomores are up and ready to go on Saturdays at 4:15 in the morning, but Emma Progler is.
“Skating is every single part of my life. I love it. I took a class with my neighbor and she quit to pursue dance and I just kept going,” said Progler, a Munster High School student.
Progler, who has been ice skating for the past eight years, is part of the Dazzlers Synchronized Skating Team, based in Downers Grove.
Practices with the team begin at 6 on Saturday mornings and 8:45 on Sunday mornings.
Assistant coach Dana Murphy, who has been coaching for the past eight seasons, said the team’s dedication to the sport sets them apart.
“Not only are our skaters at our team practices twice a week, but they are on the ice working on their individual skills throughout the week.
All the skaters are on the ice between two and six hours a week in addition to team time,” Murphy said.
“The skaters we put on these teams are extremely dedicated and this is their life. That level of commitment continues to drive our program forward.”
Progler exemplifies this dedication as she skates seven days a week.
Every day after school her mom, Cheryl, drives her to Orland Park for 90 minutes of lessons and practice. Progler also teaches skate in Orland Park for a few hours after her Saturday practice with the Dazzler’s has finished.
“It can be challenging, like getting up at 4 on Saturdays, but they are like family. Our coach took us to Dunkin' Donuts one day and to the lady at the counter she said, ‘These are our 17 daughters,’” laughs Progler.
The Dazzlers have eight teams and teams range in level from beginner to novice. Progler competes on the Intermediate team, which is the second highest level team run by the club.
This year, all three of the Dazzler teams that were eligible for national competition made it to nationals, which was Feb. 25.
Progler’s team placed 10th.
Barb Foltz, director of the Dazzlers, said she is proud of the teams for even making nationals.
“They did a nice job — it’s a tough competition. But we really rose to the occasion ... I mean, just the idea that we are now having three teams go to nationals shows the progress of the club’s skill level — it’s gotten better and higher,” Foltz said.
“I’m anticipating what we are going to do for the future; we have the ability to rise.”
Synchronized skating is a team sport in which a group of skaters perform a program together. It uses the same judging system as singles, pairs and dance and is characterized by teamwork, speed, intricate formations and challenging step sequences.
“The girls are 100% dedicated and so are the parents. They wouldn’t be able to have this dream without their parents. Parents don’t get enough credit and our coaches, well they live and breathe it,” said Foltz.
Try-outs for the Dazzlers next season begin at the end of April. For more information please visit www.downersgroveicearena.com