It is common for parents and skaters to have questions as they consider joining a new team. The Jazz Parent Advisory Board has compiled this list of frequently asked questions and their answers.  They have broken them into two groups:   General Questions and Travel Related Questions.  Skaters and parents are encouraged to contact the Chicago Jazz with any additional questions.

    General Questions

    The Chicago Jazz prefer to have 20 members per team; however, depending on the team level, 16 can compete at one time. All skaters are rotated into the program during practice. Being on the roster does not guarantee a competition spot. The coaches decide which skaters will compete and may change skaters from competition to competition.
    Cross skaters are used when needed. Like alternates, they are rotated into the program during practice so every skater knows the routine. Being a cross skater requires extra commitment to the team. The Chicago Jazz does not “expect” first year skaters to be cross skaters.
    We have both chaperoned and unchaperoned teams? Junior, Novice and Intermediate skaters travel under the supervision of chaperones. The remaining teams are unchaperoned.
    By no means should your skater give up private lessons. The Chicago Jazz encourages all types of skating. Many of our skaters compete in individual competitions.
    All practices and tryouts are closed to public viewing. Coaches will let you know when practices are open.
    Each skate year, the Chicago Jazz schedule different competitions based on a variety of factors. During an average year, the team competes at 5 different competitions culminating at the Midwestern Sectional Synchronized Skating Championships. Depending on qualification additional competitions may be attended.
    The club offers various opportunities to fundraise to offset the cost of membership. Fundraising is completely optional.
    Each skater is expected to travel with the team on the team bus to and from competitions. Parents and siblings may travel on the bus for an additional fee.
    The team works with a travel agent to arrange the accommodations for the team. Hotel reservations are provided for the families of unchaperoned teams.
    Many of our coaches have been with the Chicago Jazz since its inception and are former synchronized skaters themselves.
    Our coaches instruct from the ice, not the benches.They are active participants and instruct your skater in all phases of their program from ice level.
    The Chicago Jazz teams practice in several ice arenas in the Chicagoland area. Rinks are located in Rolling Meadows, Glenview and Park Ridge.
    Depending upon the skaters' skill level, practice may range from 1 night a week to multiple nights, which may include off and on-ice practice, video review sessions, a personal level for our higher level teams and ballet.
    All skaters must be members of the US Figure Skating Association. In addition, for Intermediate, Novice and Junior teams, skaters must be primary members of the Chicago Figure Skating Club.
    In general, the exact cost of team membership varies depending upon the level of the team upon which your skater participates. However, each team pays a monthly fee that covers the cost of ice time for practices, coaches' time, competition registration, bus fees and extra training. In addition, an incidental fee is paid twice each year that covers food for the skaters on the road and a few miscellaneous items. Costs given at the beginning of the year are projections only and are subject to change during the year. Teams that qualify for Nationals may incur additional costs. Apparel costs for practices and hotel fees are the responsibility of each family as are airfare when appropriate.
    The following definitions are provided so that you have a better understanding of how Chicago Jazz thinks about their teams and their travel policies.

    DEFINITIONS

    Chaperoned team: A team where the parents do not room with their skater.  Instead, a Jazz parent chaperone accompanies the team and is assigned responsibility for the skaters.   Each chaperoned team has 4 adults who is responsible for managing 4-5 skaters.  Jazz currently has two chaperoned teams - Intermediate and Junior.

    Non-chaperoned team: A team where the parents travel and room with their skater.  Jazz currently has three non-chaperoned teams - Synchro Skills, Pre-Juvenile and Juvenile.

    Hotel travel coordinator: this is the parent volunteer that communicates team travel and hands out hotel room keys.

    Housing Bureau: A independent organization that arranges all hotel accommodations on behalf of USFS.   A housing bureau contracts with all of the hotels in the event city and fixes rates and requirements (2 night minimum).   The Housing Bureau charges a non-optional fee for this service which is passed on to the skaters in the room rate.   When a housing bureau is involved, the Club organizations have no discretion on the hotel assigned to them for the event.

    NON-CHAPERONED TEAMS – (Synchro Skills, Pre-Juvie, Juvie) HOTEL RESERVATIONS

    A: As a group, we book a large number of rooms well in advance of the event to ensure we have rooms secured. If a Housing Bureau is involved, there is an additional fee added to the room price. All of our rooms include refundable cancellation provisions in case the Club needs to cancel the trip for any reason.
    A: Our hotels are booked under a group reservation so that the Club can travel together. Making individual changes would “break” the group block and potentially allow for changes that could jeopardize the entire group reservation and we could lose rooms. All communications MUST go through your travel coordinator or Karen Zydron.
    A: Your credit card will not be charged until the night of arrival. The hotels generally allow us an opportunity to present the payment option for the reservation the night of check-in. At this time you can pay in cash, use the card on file or provide a different credit card. If you do not provide an alternative form of payment, the credit card provided on the travel form will be used.

    TEAM HOTEL ARRIVAL PROCESS

    A: Parents are expected to be at the hotel when the team arrives unless special arrangements are made. Many parents caravan with the busses. If you arrive early, you are expected to wait for the team for the check in process.
    A: It is your responsibility to ensure you arrive at the hotel with the team. In the event something occurs and you will be late, it is your responsibility to arrange to have another parent (NOT THE TEAM MOM) take your skater to their room until you arrive. You should inform the Team Mom of the arrangements you have made so she will release your skater to the assigned parent.
    A: The Travel Coordinator will distribute all hotel keys to parents upon arrival. Because of the arrangements that have been made with respect to check in, room assignment and payment, do not ask the hotel for your room key in advance of the team arrival. The Travel Coordinator must first ensure all girls and coached have proper room assignments before distributing the keys. Once you have your room key, please leave the lobby area and go directly to your room. Our goal is to clear the lobby as fast as we can to minimize disruption to other hotel guests.

    MEALS DURING TRAVEL

    A: It varies. There are times parents will be responsible for providing meals to their skaters and other meals will be provided by the team. Depending on the number of nights in the trip, there may be a team (skaters only) dinner. Some hotels provide breakfast and parents may be asked to eat with their skater. During an early morning event, the team may provide breakfast. Team Moms will communicate in advance the expectation for all meals during the event.
    A: When traveling, it is critical skaters avoid risk of food/stomach issues. The teams try and arrange healthy food options that will minimize these illness. There are many stories and examples as to why there are food restrictions involving dairy, greasy foods and other similar food products – just ask any of the coaches, seasoned parents or Mike and they can share them with you!

    HOTEL STAY

    A: Generally hotel rooms are assigned alphabetically so skaters are near each other but this is not always the case. When we arrive, the Travel Coordinator makes a list of all of the skater rooms and this can be shared with the team parent group so you know where the team skaters are located.
    Yes! We encourage the parents to socialize and enjoy the times when their skaters are at the rink. However, it is important to remember skating is our priority. We must respect other guests in the hotel and minimize noise – especially with early morning wake up calls. Many parents prop their doors open as a way to invite socialization with other Jazz parents. If you use the safety latch to prop open your door, please wrap a washcloth over the latch to avoid the loud “bang” when the door hits the latch. Some hotels have restaurants/bars and parents are encouraged to meet and social there.
    A: It varies with each competition. Each team will have a specific “lights out” curfew for skaters. It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure their skater follows the prescribed curfew. Coaches often do a hallway walk through to ensure skaters are quietly in their rooms.
    A: No. Swimmers fall in competitions. Swimming uses different muscles that impact skating and past experience has shown this is detrimental to the teams. Our priority is a successful skate. At Mids and Nationals, if time permits AFTER the competition, swimming may be permitted but only if approved by the coaches.

    AIR TRAVEL

    A: The Jazz airplane reservations are booked in a great well in advance of the event date. The tickets are refundable and include travel insurance. We buy travel insurance in case of flight cancelations due to weather which covers the cost of additional hotel nights if flights are cancelled or rebooked.
    A: Not necessarily. Group tickets are seated in available seats and you may not be with your skater. Once the pilot gives permission, skaters and parents can try and rearrange seats.
    Once you meet up with the group at the designated meeting spot, you will be given your ticket by Karen Zydron or the Travel Coordinator. If you have bags to check, you will give them to the attendant and pay any applicable baggage fees. You will escort your skater through security and meet the team at the gate.
    A: Once we arrive back at O’Hare, you are responsible for your skater and the Team Mom is off duty. Be sure to say “thank you” to your Team Moms!

    CHAPERONED TEAMS – (Intermediate, Novice and Junior) HOTEL RESERVATIONS

    You are responsible for making your own travel arrangements. You may stay at the same hotel if there is availability. If traveling internationally, you are NOT permitted to stay in the same hotel as the team.

    TRAVEL TIPS

    Generally, no. While at competitions, the skaters are 100% focused on preparing for their skate. The teams have chaperones to make sure they are safe, fed and cared for. There may be some opportunities for parents to engage with their skater AFTER the competition, but this is not assured. This is a time for you to enjoy the event city, parent socialization and watching your skater skate.
    Travel expenses are not covered in your monthly Club fees. The payment you make each trip covers the cost of the hotel. There are 4 skaters to every room plus Chaperones and Coaches. The total cost of the hotel is divided among each skater. The cost of meals for domestic competitions are paid out of the incidental fund. For international competitions, you will be charged for the hotel plus the estimated cost of meals. These are NOT included in the incidental fund.

    AIR TRAVEL

    The Jazz airplane reservations are booked in a great well in advance of the event date. The tickets are refundable and include travel insurance. We buy travel insurance in case of flight cancelations due to weather which covers the cost of additional hotel nights if flights are cancelled or rebooked.
    We have no control over the seat assignments under our Group reservation. If you purchase a ticket for the same flight as the team, you may be seated near your skater but there is no guarantee. Our preference is to have skaters sit together as a team where possible.
    You will be directed to drop off your skater with your designated chaperone at an assigned airport location ("Door 3C" as an example). The Chaperone will have your skater's ticket.
    Your skater will be responsible for paying the applicable baggage fees when flying. These are typically $25 per bag and have to be paid by credit card. You can send a credit card with your skater to use in the automated machine or you can purchase a prepaid credit card to use for this expense. The Chaperones and Team Moms will not cover this expense for your skater.
    You can pick up your skater in the Baggage Claim area. Please be prompt as the Team Mom must wait until all skaters are picked up before they can go home.

    GENERAL TRAVEL INFORMATION – CHAPERONED AND NON CHAPERONED TEAMS BUS TRAVEL

    The cost to ride the bus is $25 per adult per day. There is no fee for siblings riding the bus with a parent.
    Yes. Parents may ride the bus between the hotel and ice rink at no cost. This is a great way to avoid parking fees and to travel as a parent group.
    No. Parents are assigned to one bus and skaters sit with their team. The bus trips are an important part of the team dynamic and coaches use this time to prepare skaters for the upcoming competition.
    In the interest of team bonding skaters are encouraged to play games, socialize, do homework, and sometimes they can bring a movie for the bus (if available on the bus). The time on the bus is a important element for the girls to connect as a team.

    LUGGAGE

    Your skater is responsible for their own luggage. All bags should be tagged with the skater Team ID tag. Your skater will drop off their skate bags at the bus and take their backpacks with them. Team Moms and/or Coaches may inspect skate bags prior to departure to make sure they have both skates and other critical items. Don't laugh, it happens, hence the inspection to make sure there are two skates in the bag.
    You are responsible for your own luggage. All bags should be clearly marked or tagged with your identification. If you are riding the bus, you can load your bags in the underneath compartment. There is a specific area for parent bags separate from skater bags. Please make sure you ask before loading you bag.
    Specific instructions will be provided in advance as to what your skater needs to pack for each competition. Clothes are usually packed in marked zip lock bags to make sure they stay dry and clean in the skate or garment bags.
    Yes. You will be given instructions before each flight. Generally, the skaters take their skates on the plane with them in backpacks provided by the Team. Checked baggage can be regular roll luggage. Skate bags are not generally taken on flights.

    COMPETITIONS

    Yes. All of the competitions we attend charge an entrance fee. Fees range from $10 pp to $25 per person, per day for Mids and Nationals. Several of the competitions are cash only (no credit cards).
    Sometimes. Certain venues charge for parking and some do not. Ann Arbor, Fond du lac and Synchro IL do not charge for parking. Kalamazoo, Mids and Nationals will have a parking fee. These generally require cash.
    Often you can get the program schedule off the events website ahead of the competition. At the competition, you can purchase an event program for $10- $15 and other event items.