The USC Ice Girls gear up to sweep the ice.
(Credit: Krystle Suetani)
Sporty, sexy and classy --these are the USC Ice Girls, a student-run organization at the University of Southern California.
Co-founded by Nichole Huenergardt and Johnny Nguyen, the club now includes 17 members, all students at the school. Huenergardt is the squad coordinator and captain; Nguyen, who is the assistant general manager for the USC Ice Hockey team, serves as the manager.
“I contacted Johnny Nuygen, assistant GM of the USC Ice Hockey Team, to see if he needed Ice Girls,” Huenergardt recalls about how the Girls’ Figure Skating team first got involved. “Originally, we wanted to just perform for the hockey fans as a way to expose the campus to figure skating, but there was much more in store.”
Since the fall of 2010, the Ice Girls have been the official spirit squad for the USC Ice Hockey team. Whenever there’s a home game at The Rinks Anaheim ICE, these ambitious girls are there to engage and energize the crowd and promote in-game activities.
For these talented women, dedication to the team extends far outside the rink. They are much involved with off-site events, including fundraisers and hockey team activities, as well as community outreach.
It’s this widespread sense of camaraderie that appealed to Jill Defiel, an 18-year-old freshman from Minnesota, who sought ways to get involved on campus when she first came to USC. She found the Ice Girls to be perfect fit for her since ice skating had been --and still remains-- a vital aspect of her life.
“After finding out more about the team, I knew that I wanted to be a part of something so unique,” she says. Defiel, who began skating at the age of 5, is now both an ice sweeper and performer for the Ice Girls.
But what about those who are less experienced ice skaters? No problem.
Twenty-three-year-old senior Alexandria Simmsgeiger is a prime example of someone who wanted to be involved despite her lack of practice in the rink. Simmsgeiger remembers seeing the Ice Girls’ booth at a USC involvement fair and instantly wanting to become a part of it.
“I was immediately interested,” Simmsgeiger recalls. “It was very random for me considering I didn't really have a background in skating, but I wanted to be more involved with USC and figured this would be a fun outlet.”
Like Simmsgeiger, Daniele Morkel joined the Ice Girls back when they were just starting up.
“I thought this was a great opportunity to be a part of creating something new,” said Morkel. “It was easy to see that this was about to explode into something incredible.”
Huenergardt, who is one of three team captains, already has many memories with the girls that range from home matches to team-building trips.
“I love being a part of this team because we are all really close, and just have a fabulous time watching the games and traveling together,” she says.
“The respect we have for each other and the team has led to strong friendships that I’m sure will last a lifetime,” adds Morkel.
Whether it’s cheering, pumping up the fans, taking photos with kids, performing routines, shoveling ice, assisting in marketing future hockey events, or any of the other on-going club activities, the Ice Girls are here to stay –and are developing and growing in the process.
Article posted on 2/15/2012
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