GALLIPOLIS — Skatesville USA skating rink in Gallipolis is seeing a return of area youth interested in taking up roller hockey.
Practices are Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings.
According to program representative Michael Woodall, of Point Pleasant, W.Va., the program started in October and has continued to gather interest.
“We’re still trying to start (the program),” Woodall said. “The idea is if we can get enough interest here, we can get other rinks to get programs going that don’t have programs. When I was a teenager, I played here and we had about 10 different teams in the league.”
Woodall said of the roughly 20 children currently in the program, ages range from 7 to 13. Program representatives hope to generate enough interest to have multiple teams represented by different ages. Woodall hopes to have a team for ages 16 and older, 13 to 16, 10 to 13 and 10 and under.
“Until we get enough people, right now we’re just learning to play,” Woodall said. “(Thing such as) how to skate mostly, teaching them the fundamentals of the game, how to skate, how to pass and how to shoot. Stopping is the hardest skill to learn. It’s the absolute hardest skill to learn, if you ask me.”
Woodall said there was little difference between their version of roller hockey and ice hockey. Roller hockey will be played with four individuals on a team instead of the typical five. The rink is smaller than typical ice surfaces. Players will make use of a puck. Woodall recommends full ice gear for players. The program is co-ed.
Required gear is shin pads, elbow pads, knee pads, gloves, helmet, groin protection, a mouthguard and, for players under the age of 18, a face cage. Skates are obviously another item needed to participate.
Woodall said the sport was supposed to be low contact, but it was expected that children would suffer the occasional bruise.
Program representatives said that former teams in the skating rink had visited regional tournaments with their teenage players. Players had once visited Des Moines, Iowa, to compete in a national tournament as well. Coaches hope to bring back some of that pride to Skatesville USA.
Individuals interested in participating should seek out the Skatesville USA Facebook page or call the rink itself. Wednesday practices start at 6 p.m. and Saturday practices start at 9 a.m.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.
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