Synchronized skating is more than just a sport for Talia Pettinella ’27. It’s family. A source of inspiration. A way to represent her country.
The Bryant University first-year began figure skating at age three, switched to synchronized skating at age 12, and is now a member of the Haydenettes — a senior-level synchronized skating team that competes at the highest level of synchronized skating nationally and internationally. Pettinella will practice and compete with the Boston-based group while studying at Bryant.
“My favorite aspect of synchronized skating is the team camaraderie and the built-in family,” says Pettinella, smiling. “We all have the same passion for the sport, and it’s a family that supports, inspires, and motivates each other.”
In synchronized skating, teams of 16 skaters perform intricate moves, jumps, spins, lifts, formations, and step sequences together on the ice with the goal of being in perfect unison. The teams adhere to a judging system similar to singles, pairs, and ice dance.
Hailing from Trumbull, Connecticut, Pettinella spent the last two years skating for the Skyliners Junior, America’s top junior-level synchronized skating teams. In 2022, the team won silver at the World Junior Synchronized Championships in Austria and bronze in France during the 2023 competition. This past March, Pettinella stepped out of her comfort zone and tried out for the Haydenettes, which have represented the United States at every world championship since 2000.
“The Haydenettes is the top senior-level synchronized skating team in the country. They are the best of the best — the dream team every synchronized skater wants to be on,” Pettinella says.
Pettinella’s goal is to skate in the Winter Olympics. The sport is not offered in the Olympics, but the International Skating Union is pushing to include synchronized skating in the near future.
“Even if I have to skate until I’m 30, I don’t care. It is a dream of mine to go,” Pettinella says.
At Bryant, Pettinella is pursuing Biology on a Pre-Health track. Bryant’s relaxed campus community and close-knit relationships between students and faculty drew her to the university. She says she's looking forward to meeting more new people, exploring her major, and participating in campus activities.
“I plan to get involved with Special Olympics through Bryant,” Pettinella says. “I would love to help people with disabilities discover their strengths, abilities, and find joy and confidence through their sport.”
As a competitive athlete and student, Pettinella says prioritizing her time is crucial. On a typical Wednesday at Bryant, she plans to be out the door by 5:45 a.m. so she can drive to the Haydenette’s Boston-based rink for four hours of practice. Returning to Bryant, she’ll grab lunch, attend class until 7:30 p.m., and skate at a local rink in between classes.
She’ll also participate in competitions throughout the year: one in Boston and another in California. Following these two events, the Haydenettes will receive two international assignments that could bring them to locations such as Budapest, Switzerland, Croatia, or Finland. The last two competitions of the season will include the 2024 National Championships in Las Vegas where her team hopes to qualify for the 2024 Senior World Championship in Croatia.
“There’s nothing better than stepping on international ice and hearing the words ‘representing the United States of America’ — it’s an honor and a privilege,” the incoming Bulldog says.