Children enjoy the ice on Get Out and Skate Day

Published 3:58 pm Monday, January 16, 2023

By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena offered skating lessons in honor of Get Out and Skate Day, encouraging children to come and enjoy fun on the ice on Sunday, Jan. 15.

National Learn to Skate Day is a U.S. Figure Skating event celebrated across the country. Priscilla Fowler, Birmingham Figure Skating club test and competition chair, said the event is one of many that take place across the country to celebrate the day.

“Our club has always offered a free skating lesson to kids and adults,” Fowler said. “Anyone can come. It is just a way for us to introduce people to the sport.”

Fowler said Get Out and Skate Day is a good way to bring awareness, not just to the Learn to Skate program or Birmingham Figure Skating club, but to the Pelham Civic Complex as well.

“There are many people who do not even know we have a rink here,” Fowler said.  “I think people who live in Pelham and Alabaster and the local community near the civic complex know, but other outlying communities in Birmingham aren’t even aware there is a rink here or a figure skating program or a hockey program.”

Fowler said she hopes to see all the programs at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena expand.

“We definitely want to grow,” she said. “That all starts with the Learn to Skate program. That is where our skaters come from. Growth from that program means growth for all of us.”

The Learn to Skate School and Birmingham Figure Skating Club were present to help attendees on the ice. An exhibition was held before the public free skate in which members of the Birmingham Figure Skating Club showed their skills and gave advice for beginners who are unfamiliar with the sport.

Kelsey Neff, a figuring skating coach with Learn to Skate, said the event showcases the importance of getting children out on the ice at a young age.

“Learn to Skate starts with anyone from tots all the way up to adults,” Neff said. “It is basically the bridge to get you into ice skating and moving across the ice. In the future, if you want to start competing or doing shows, this is what helps you get to that point.”

Neff said the exhibition held before the free skating event serves as a representation of what beginners could be if they continue on with ice skating.

“Parents and skaters can see if you continue with skating, you could look like these kids,” Brandt said.

Neff is an elementary school teacher and has been figuring skating for 13 years. She did not think she would become a figure skating teacher, but has deeply cherished the experience.

“It is really fun watching kids have that, ‘Aha,’ moment,” Neff said. “They finally get a skill that they’ve been working on for months, it is an amazing experience to be a part of.”

Classes often go step-by-step to get beginners comfortable with being on the ice.

“We go through the skills of teaching them how to stand up, moving across the ice as well as spins and jumps,” Learn to Skate Teacher Erica Brandt, said.

Brandt spoke on how events like Get Out and Skate Day are important to the community.

“We usually have a huge turnout, which is why we have all staff out on crew for the day,” Brandt said. “

Brandt said it is important to have enough coaches out on the ice to support all the skaters who are in attendance as beginners on the ice often need more help.

“We want to make sure we have all hands-on deck,” Brandt said.

Neff said the exhibition held before the free skating event serves as a representation of what beginners could be if they continue on with ice skating.

“Parents and skaters can see if you continue with skating, you could look like these kids,” Brandt said.

Neff is an elementary school teacher who has been figuring skating for 13 years and did not think she would become a figure skating teacher, but has deeply valued the experience.

“It is really fun watching kids have that, ‘Aha’ moment,” Neff said. “They finally get a skill that they’ve been working on for months, it is an amazing experience to be a part of.”

More information about Learn to Skate can be found at LearnToSkateUSA.com or through the Pelham Civic Complex Facebook page.