Knowing how to skate properly is a skill that transfers well to a variety of winter sports. While the learning process can take years, getting started is often the biggest step a child can take.
Colleen Laferriere, head coach of the Aldergrove Skating Club, has taught thousands of people to skate since taking up coaching in 1976 and moving to Aldergrove in 1980. She knows well the value of her club’s learn to skate program, having witnessed many graduates go on to play hockey or ringette, stick with the club as a figure skater or simply develop a love for being out on the ice, whether they use that skill elsewhere or not.
“We’re teaching between 100 and 150 people per year, as young as three years old,” she says. “We have one skater who is 76 and she competes internationally.”
Figure skating and a lot more
Skating clubs have long fought a stigma based on a false belief that they only groom people for figure skating. That stigma is gradually disappearing, as clubs have changed their names to reflect the all-encompassing nature of their programs.
“Traditionally minor hockey and ringette don’t teach the kids how to skate, they teach them how to play the game,” Laferriere explains.
It is often left to the skating clubs to fill that gap with their CanSkate programs, operated using Skate Canada guidelines. Participants are taught how to skate backward and forward, learn stopping techniques, how to cross over both ways and more – skills that transfer well, whether the skater is signed up for hockey or ringette, or just wants to be able to go skating with friends.
Laferriere recalls a chat with a Langley chiropractor who received lessons from her with his team as a pre-teen minor hockey player. “He said it was the most beneficial thing he ever had, he was so grateful,” she says.
Sign up for CanSkate programs
The club has two weekly sessions in its CanSkate lesson program to help youngsters and adults become more comfortable on skates, starting this week at the brand new Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre. The sessions, overseen by certified coach Roberta Sawatzky and club alumni Natasha Klop and Rachel Rollke, are designed to focus on fun, participation and basic skill development.
• Tuesdays, 4:25 to 5:15 p.m., Thursdays 4:40 to 5:30 p.m.
• Skaters receive a 15-minute group lesson, then 35 minutes of supervised practice time
• The program lasts 25 weeks, ending in early March
• The season ends with a themed Pop Concert event, where skaters get to show off what they’ve learned
Aldergrove’s new arena offers more comfortable amenities for skaters and spectators alike in the fall and winter months. And while Langley and Abbotsford have their own skating clubs, the Aldergrove club draws from all three communities, largely due to its solid teaching reputation.
For more information or to register online, visit aldergroveskatingclub.com.