Local rinks are trying to put Grayson County on the skating map. Through competitions, the introduction of skate styles to people of this area, and providing safe spaces for children to hang out, local skating rinks are working to keep skating alive.
Sherman Skateland held a semifinal competition at the rink Monday. The jam skate competition brought patrons of 14 area rinks to the Sherman location.
“We have some skaters that live, breathe and eat skating,” Sherman rink owner Robert Barnes said. “Social skate was invented 39 years ago. At the time, the disco era was coming to an end. We wanted to keep people in rinks so social skate was created. It is a competition every summer. Every Monday night we meet at a different skating rink and host a competition. For the skaters, it is like a tour of area rinks. “
The goal of social skate is for skaters to get together and appreciate area rinks.
“You get a feel for every rink there is,” Barnes said. “You get to see what kinds of skating are done at these different rinks. In Sherman, our thing is jam skating. Jam skating is the competition we have going on tonight. In the 1980s, you had Run-D.M.C., you had LL Cool J and other singers that did a hip-hop, funk mixture. That was bringing the kids to the streets. It was a break dancing time. That same style is alive today. We don’t call it break dancing anymore. We call it break skating.”
There were about 85 skaters competing in the competition and there were more than 200 patrons at the rink during the competition.
“Roller-skating is coming back alive, and rollerskating is not a middle school thing,” Barnes said. “It is still alive. It is not as big as it was during the disco era, but it is still big. At big competitions, you see speed skating, the jam skating, the bounce skaters, the dub skaters.”
Crystal May remembers the first time she participated in a social skate.
“I have been skating since I could walk,” May said. “That is how it is in my family. It’s about practicing, practicing and practicing. Sometimes falling is part of it. You just have to continue to do it though.”
May owns Skatelands of America in Denison. The Denison rink, she said, offers more than children’s parties.
“People know that it is a lot of fun, but they forget that it is a lot of exercise,” May said. “For cardiovascular health, it can help an individual burn quite a lot of calories through skating. Sixteen laps around our rink is considered a mile. We also do races and fast skating. That really gets your heart pumping. It does not take much to do a few laps and begin to feel it.”
Don and Audrey Brewer opened their first skating rink in Missouri in the ’80s. After moving to Texas, the Brewers opened Skatelands of America. May and her husband took over the business last year.
“Skatelands of America has been around for so long because it is the party place,” she said. “There is a party every weekend and sometimes through the week. Families can bring their children. It is just a really fun place to hang out.”
The atmosphere skating rinks is why Amber Balfe began skating when she was four years old.
“Everyone is welcome here,” she said. “It is cool to see all the different types of people that come in here. Usually when it’s a normal day, there is music for everyone and it is just a lot of fun.”
Balfe competed in Sherman Skateland’s jam skating competition on Monday.
“For more, it’s about the anticipation of coming into the skating rink,” she said. “I can’t wait to get here. It’s been like that for as long as I can remember. People come here to have fun. When we are having fun here as a staff, it shows and the people that come in have fun here too.”
Balfe also does artistic skating.
“Artistic is like waltzing on skates,” she said. “It’s like ice skating or figure skating. My partner and I would love to make it to nationals. Practicing for our routine is very tedious. We do a lot of the same things over and over again.”
Balfe hopes area skating rinks can help bring back the art of skating.
“I see people from age 2 on up to 70 years old out in the rink doing their thing and having fun, regardless of if they have a lot of technique or if they are just moving to the music,” she said. “It’s great to see, and it’s great to work here. I love seeing how happy it makes children.”
Bill Beauchene travels from Richardson with his daughter so that she can skate at the Sherman rink.
“My daughter loves coming up here,” he said. “My daughter used to go to Whiterock Skate Park a lot. It closed so we come here a lot.”
Beauchene said his daughter began skating when she was 4 or 5 years old. He said he does not mind passing other rinks while making the trip to Sherman because he knows exactly what he is going to get when they get here.
“There are not a lot of places where children can go that is safe,” he said. “They can go out and enjoy time with their friends without getting into trouble. There is always supervision here and the rinks in Dallas. She can burn off some energy and get some good exercise. It is a lot of fun.”
As a parent, Beauchene said the trip is worth while because he gets to see his daughter come alive on the floor.
“My daughter does some stuff on rollerskates that you have never seen before,” he said. “She won first place at the competition in West Lake Carroll. Most of the children skate in quads or in regular roller skates. My daughter does her routine in speed skates, which is really different. She does some stuff that I have never seen a lot of people even try. We are new to the competition thing, but I think skating rinks should get more support from their communities. It’s a win.”
In the future, Barnes said he would like the Sherman rink to be an Olympic practice rink, as well as host other regional and national competitions.
“There is a lot we do not know about these kids,” he said. “This rink for some is a way to escape from these worldly problems. The music just starts flowing through people’s bodies and they just start to dancing. It becomes like an art. With these routines, with these skaters in this competitions, you will see them go through and they will make themselves do some really awesome tricks out there.”