Balancing the demands of college coursework with a traditional athletic schedule - including daily practices and games held throughout New England - can be a challenge for any Framingham State student-athlete. But it becomes a whole lot bigger when your sport involves representing Team USA at international competitions.

“I’ve learned to balance both skating and school by doing work on the road and during any spare time I have,” says Rebecca Gerfen ‘24, an Honors Student at Framingham State who has represented Team USA in Synchronized Figure Skating for several years. “I’m grateful to my professors at FSU for how supportive they have been when I have had to miss classes for competitions. They have all been very flexible and worked with me to a degree that I’m not sure I could have counted on at other schools.”

Gerfen has been skating since she was 4-years-old at J.W. Hayden Recreation Center in her hometown of Lexington, MA. The center used to be the home ice for all of the Hayden Synchronized Skating Teams, one of the top synchronized skating clubs in the world.

By 7th grade she was competing at the national level for her age group and by her junior year of high school she was representing Team USA at international competitions. She has had the opportunity to compete in Croatia, Italy, France, Austria, and Canada.

“It was really fun and exciting,” she says. “There is no better feeling in the world than taking to the ice in front of a crowd chanting ‘U.S.A.’”

As a competitor at the highest level of synchronized skating, she has been at the forefront of an effort to get the event added to the Olympics. One of the impediments is the size of synchronized skating teams (typically 16 skaters on the ice at one time) is large and too expensive for the International Olympic Committee to take on at the Winter Olympics, which are much smaller than the Summer Olympics.

Before she recently retired, Gerfen was on one of the first teams that dropped down to 12 skaters, creating an entirely new division for the sport called the Senior Elite 12, with an eye towards getting synchronized skating into a future Winter Olympics.

“My goal was never necessarily to get myself into the Olympics, it was just to get the sport added,” she says. “I think we have a good chance and part of why I chose to push my sport in this way was so that my students can someday have the opportunity to go.”

Gerfen began coaching skaters of all ages when she was 14 and in 2021 started doing private lessons. It’s something she would love to continue doing in the future.

“It’s so rewarding,” she says. “I’m so proud of my students when they perform well or when something starts to finally click.”

Gerfen is preparing to graduate from FSU’s Honors Program this spring with a degree in Business Administration and Management. She recently completed her Honors Thesis on the perception of female figure skaters in the media.

“I’ve had a great experience at Framingham State,” she says. “It was really the perfect choice for me, because it is nearby and very affordable. Skating can be an expensive sport, so that was important. I feel like I got an excellent education.”