Faces of Synchro

"When my daughter skates with her teammates, she truly shines!"


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Kendal and her daughter Amai

Kendal and her daughter Amai discovered synchronized skating in Los Angeles during the last season. Let's meet today this skater mom new to synchro.

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How are you today? 

I am doing well. Thank you for asking. I am home in my apartment in Los Angeles. I am a parent of a six years old synchro skater. Amai completed her first season of synchro earlier this spring

How did you discover synchro?

Synchro discovered my daughter. We were leaving a "Learn To Skate" session, and there was a synchro banner displayed with a team in the lobby announcing their upcoming auditions. When Amai saw all the girls dressed alike and in skates, she wanted to join, so we auditioned.



You have just entered the world of synchro skating; what is your favorite element?

I do not have a specific favorite element. I would say what I really love in synchro is the choreography. I think Amai would also agree. I was very pleased with the theme, choreography, and competition dress from last season.

Do you have any rituals before competitions? 

We do not have any skating rituals. However, we are committed to praying and giving thanks to God for all that we have. We know that all things are a gift from God, and we try to be very mindful to give thanks before and after competitions.

As a synchro mom, what is your best "synchro" memory?

My favorite moment was the first time I saw Amai compete in her competition dress.  She was so happy and proud to be part of the team. When she skates with her teammates, she truly shines!



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Amai wearing her dress

What did this sport teach you and your daughter?

This sport taught Amai how to work together as a team, and when necessary, lead. It has also taught Amai how to push past any limitations she may have and have a good time win or lose. This sport taught me that it was not designed for little girls like mine. Amai was the only black girl on her team, and there were a few occasions when I felt like we did not "belong" in the sport. 

Could you tell us about your experience as a mom with a skater of color?

My experience overall has been great because Amai is amazing, and she makes it easy to see past the discrimination. However, it has been very challenging navigating all the "rules" and "systems" put in place that make it challenging to feel included.

Did you or your daughter face any racism while skating?

Yes, however, not direct racism. I believe most of our experience has been around other people's unconscious biases. I also learned very early on that her white coaches may have some challenges discussing topics/concerns around diversity and inclusion.



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How do you prepare your daughter to face this? To keep the confidence and the love of the sport?

I prepare her in the ice skating space the same way I do in other areas of her life. Amai knows that she is loved. Amai is aware that she is a beautiful black girl with rich skin.  Early in her life, she had to be taught that people must ask permission to touch her hair and/or skin and that it is her right to choose. Through countless conversations at our dinner table or car rides, we discuss racism, discrimination, and prejudices towards people of color and women. She is built to be resilient, and she does not lose confidence as a result of the beliefs or actions of other people.



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How do you handle makeup and hairdo?

This is such a hot topic. I am actually becoming flustered just thinking about my response. Our experience is that all parents of the synchro team were invited to watch a demo on "how to make the competition bun." Prior to the demo, we were all given cosmetic bags with all the tools needed to make the bun. It was at that exact moment that I realized how much Amai's needs were not taken into consideration by the organization. The kit included hair tools and makeup that I was not able to use on Amai. However, I was also forced to purchase it. As the tutorial began, the coach started using hair spray and bobby pins to make the bun. I was perplexed and confused as to how she thought Amai would be able to achieve that look with those tools? I started giving away the products to other moms, then purchased everything I needed for Amai.


Any recommendations?

Everything is their premade kit is for girls with bone straight hair and lighter skin. I would recommend that any coach needs to do is ask the parents of black skaters what we would like in our bag. Everybody's need is different and cannot use the same tools to achieve the same look, especially when these things require to be purchased. Parents would love to buy the right tools in the first place to save time and money.



Which advice would you give to organizations to be more diverse and inclusive?

My advice would be: please ensure that there are people of color in the room while decisions are being made. Diversity and inclusion are key to success, especially when it involves team work. Too often, all of our unconscious bias interferes with how to treat, consider, respond, and relate to other people. Also, I would ask that everyone begin to identify their own unconscious bias and collectively begin to discuss them to break down these barriers. Education is so important.

One last thing, it would be about communication and the message sent to new skaters and their families. The day Amai and I went to get information about synchro auditions, the first thing communicated upon my arrival was that it was "very, very expensive and requires too much time." This sport is also giving tools to our kids to be organized, to learn how to work together. It is so much fun.

What is your project in the future, in terms of skating?

I am currently partnering with our local rink to launch a socio-economic skating program for young people living in South Central Los Angeles. The planning has been going incredibly well, and we hope to launch very soon.


For next season, Amai was formally invited to another local team. She is delighted because she will be able to wear tights of the same color as her skin color!

Do you want to know more about Amai and her mother Kendal? Follow this Sunday their "Take Over" on OneTeamMVMT's Instagram account!