THE LEARN TO SPEED SKATE PROGRAM IS NO LONGER OFFERED.
NEW SKATERS CAN LEARN BASIC SKATING SKILLS THROUGH THE SKATE SCHOOLS. Skaters can learn the basics on figure skates or hockey skates, and their skills will be easily transferred to speed skating.
The die-hard skate school volunteer coaches finally took a break after the summer of 2019. The rink decided to take the skate school program in a different direction.
On September 25th, 2009, three coaches from NCSA, Mary, Gene and Greg volunteered to teach beginning speed skating at the Oakland Ice Skate School. Students at the one-hour lessons learn everything from “how to glide forward” to “how to corner like an Olympian.” If you look out onto the ice during the lesson, you will see skaters in small groups working with coaches on various skills, such as correct position in the straightaways, cornering technique, how to pass during a race, and how to do starts. Over time we we lucky to have additional volunteer coaches: Sean Olsen, Kimon Papahadjopolous, Anna Carloni, Bob Katsma.
At our very first class back in 2009, we came armed with brochures, stickers, pencils ready to teach . . . . our 1 student . . . Max. It took a while to figure out how to teach a sport that requires a 190 x 100-ft ice surface on a 6-ft wide strip across the center of the rink. After the lesson, we pulled out a stopwatch (aka – new speedskater magnet). Next thing you know, we had 8 kids gathered around us, who had drifted over from the figure-skating lessons, and we were using up every bit of our 6 ft strip of ice real estate. By the second lesson, we had 4 students for the class and 12 kids for the second half of the lesson time playing games with us. By the end of the semester, we had 8 students in the class and we were terrorizing the other skate school instructors. Some of the other instructors were talking to us about signing up for our class.
Our 6-ft strip in the center of the ice grew to the entire ice surface. The youngest skater we worked with was 4 years old and our oldest skater was 66. Coming into our ninth Olympic cycle (since the club founding), Greg, Gene and Mary have sharpened lots of skates, tied hundreds of shoelaces and adjusted countless helmets. They have had a lot of fun and hope to inspire more skaters to take up speed skating.