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Katey Nyquist skates into new role as head coach for Miami synchronized skating

Nyquist coached for three years at Denver Synchronicity, the same team she grew up skating on
Nyquist coached for three years at Denver Synchronicity, the same team she grew up skating on

In December, Miami University synchronized skating head coach Carla Degirolamo and assistant coach Lee Ann Shoker announced they would retire following the 2024 season.

When the season concluded in March, the RedHawks brought home a gold medal for the collegiate team and a bronze medal for the senior team at the National Synchronized Skating Championship

In the following weeks, DeGirolamo and Shoker officially stepped down. On March 29, it was announced that Katey Nyquist, head coach of the Denver Synchronicity teams, would take on the head coaching position. 

Nyquist started skating with her mom, who also competed in synchronized skating and passed the tradition down. She got her start in competitive synchronized skating at 11 years old. 

Nyquist said that the collaboration of synchronized skating attracted her the most.

“In a lot of disciplines of skating, you’re often out on the ice by yourself,” Nyquist said. “It’s  really a different experience than you might have in other disciplines of skating … there’s a lot of people that have a passion for skating, and then to be able to combine it with more of a team environment is really neat.”

She enjoyed skating as a hobby, but after the first time she made a national competition, Nyquist knew that she wanted to take skating to the professional level. She made it her dream to compete for the Boston Haydenettes after high school.

What started as a mother-daughter bonding experience became a professional career when Nyquist made the Lexettes, the junior level team for the Haydenettes.

“I skated for one year on the Lexettes, which was a really amazing experience,” Nyquist said. “It was a great transition year for me, and then the following season, I tried out again for the Haydenettes and made the team.”

Nyquist skated for the Haydenettes from 2015 to 2020. She brought home five national championship victories and a bronze medal at the World Championship in 2016. 

The COVID-19 pandemic cut her last season short, but she knew that it was time to move on from competitive skating to coaching. 

“I knew that I wanted to coach, and it was really important to me that I stayed involved,” Nyquist said. 

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In 2021, Nyquist moved back home to Denver and started coaching for Denver Synchronicity, the same team she grew up skating on. 

After three years in Denver, Nyquist received the call from Miami. 

The RedHawks’ senior team finished as runner-ups to the Haydenettes at the National Synchronized Skating Championship in 2015 and 2016, so Nyquist was well-aware of the program. 

“I was just so excited,” Nyquist said. “I think it’s a dream to get to work with teams and athletes of this caliber, and for a program that has such a legacy. It felt like a true culmination of my skating career so far.”

The notoriety of the program cannot be understated. With 22 collegiate national titles and 13 World Championship appearances, the RedHawks have consistently shown their skill. 

Junior Melissa Marchetti reigns from New York, but the status of Miami’s synchronized skating program drew her in despite the distance from home. As a RedHawk, she realizes now that Miami also provides the ideal balance as a student-athlete that other programs overlook.

“[Carla] has such a good balance between treating us as athletes and as people, which in figure skating is a pretty rare thing to find,” Marchetti said. “A lot of us grew up with super strict coaches, so Miami’s definitely a refreshing place for college athletes, and I feel like a lot of us kind of fell back in love with the sport after being a little burnt out from it.”

When DeGirolamo announced she would retire this year, Marchetti and the RedHawks worked hard to ensure she had an unforgettable end to her career. 

“We all wanted to make it a really memorable experience for her,” Marchetti said. “There was definitely some pressure, but I think it was more about wanting to make it memorable for her and have it as a good sign off for her.”

Nyquist wants to continue the trend of treating the athletes with respect and providing adequate balance. The motivation of the skaters excites her most as she steps into the new role.

“I’ve watched Miami for many years, and I think they’re always known to be really hard working and great ambassadors of the sport,” Nyquist said. “I think that their vision [and] their goals will align really well with what I’m hoping to achieve as their coach.”

As DeGirolamo and Shoker leave, so do 10 seniors. One senior, Natalie Mispagel on the collegiate team, expects the program to maintain its excellence and keep the legacy left behind by DeGirolamo and Shoker. 

“Whenever you come to Miami, you know what it means to be a Miami skater,” Mispagel said. “She’s already coming into a program of girls that want to be the best and are trying every day to be the best. We’re excited to see what she does with our programs.”

One piece of advice she gives to new skaters is to take things slowly, because time moves fast once you’re a RedHawk.

“Take a look around,” Mispagel said. “It is such a unique experience getting to skate for Miami. I wish I looked around more over my four years and took a moment and stopped and appreciated how far I came every day.”