Kids Learn to Skate for Free With Superior Amateur Hockey Association

At least 40 kids were out on the ice Wednesday, inching along behind their chairs. 

SUPERIOR, Wis.- The ice at the Superior Ice Arena is now open, but on Wednesday it was filled not only with skates, but chairs supporting small skaters, as the Superior Amateur Hockey Association (SAHA) taught kids how to skate.

“I like skating,” said one 5-year-old beginner, Hillary Davis.

SAHA delayed starting their free learn-to-skate program this year due to the pandemic.

“Normally we do our learn to skate during the summer but it was hard to do during the summer because we had to figure out all the different pieces of the puzzle to put it together,” SAHA President Brian Raygor said.

Those pieces included social distancing of chairs and spectators and having kids enter the ice one way and exit the ice one way.

Surfaces and the free equipment offered were cleaned after each use, while encouraging people keep their own belongings in bags as much as possible.

Masks were also required at all times in the building, with any exceptions which fall under the state mandate’s criteria.

“In Wisconsin we have to wear the masks so we’re wearing them on the ice,” said Raygor. “It’s not the best thing in the world but it’s what they’ll do if they want to play.”

That’s a small price, parents said, for getting their kids on the ice again. At least 40 were out on the ice Wednesday, inching along behind their chairs.

“I was really happy to hear the open skate started up because it gives a lot of these youth kids in the area a chance to get out and try something new,” dad Anthony Pierce said.

But before they can pick up the hockey sticks, those kids have to learn the basics first.

“We’re gonna focus on one just steering with balance and movement, getting up off the ice,” said Raygor.

“One of the things is intimidation for the kids. Most of the kids, once they start skating they pick it up so quickly in just a matter of a few skates they can start getting rid of the chairs,” he said.

Skating by themselves was the end goal for many of the new skaters, and why they came to enjoy the lessons.

“Because you get to skate and get to have no chair,” said young Davis.

But until then, they have to take a tumble here and there.

The clangs of chairs falling to the ice with the children echoing through the arena becoming a familiar sound Wednesday.

“I tell them when they’re out there skating everybody falls so it’s a matter of getting back up and going again,” Raygor said.

But he said these kids will be flying across the ice in no time, getting them active in time for winter, which could otherwise be dull due to the pandemic. “Everyone wants a little escape,” said Raygor.

Watching his son earnestly balance on the ice, Pierce agreed. “I think it is very important that my kid has something to do, but not only my kid, all the kids.”

“Because I think that they gotta get back to some type of normalcy and to have something they can come to and just take their mind off what’s happening in the outside world,” he said.

The free learn-to-skate will continue Wednesdays and Sundays this month. Raygor said people are encouraged to sign up ahead of time, to ensure they have enough equipment to offer.

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