Sunday, May 15, 2011

Never Give Up

Just last week my family found out our local skating rink will be closing its doors as of June 5th. Rink management published a press release in the local paper. If your children are deeply involved in an activity then you know what a blow this is emotionally for the whole family. The rink for us is a family place. My son plays hockey there (up to 3 times a week), my daughter (up until the last 4 weeks) skated there twice a week and we are constantly there for open skating, sticks and pucks and other events.

Kindly, our son's hockey coach email all the youth hockey parents to address this as soon as he heard the news. It would have been an even worse blow to read about it in the paper. My husband and I were emotionally floored and crippled. To make matters even worse we found out that rink management (as in the big wigs that sit behind a desk nowhere near the facility) had not even told their employees until they released the statement to the newspaper. How cruel is that?

Let me share the email my son's coach sent to us.

Hello all,
I'm not sure how anyone could understand how much it hurts to send this message. Some of you have received the news already via the press release today. As of June 5th, <XYZ Ice Rink > will be closing its doors. While there are still negotiations with the town - we must continue with the closing process. Obviously, we're all pulling for some positive news, but we have to prepare for what may very well happen.
As for the spring hockey season - we will be attempting to fit in all games before June 5th. This, of course, will mean weekday games. As soon as a new schedule is made, I will pass it along.
I'd gladly answer any of your questions - but I just don't know much at this time. I really regret having to send this email - I do apologize for such short notice - as I just found out today as well.
I would like to thank everyone for their support, caring, and understanding throughout the years - it really means a lot. I've had so much fun the past 8 years at <XYZ Ice Rink>- I am having trouble even thinking about letting it all go. I don't want to get into all that right now (as part of me is still holding onto a thread of hope!) In case I don't have the chance to say it, I truly wish everyone the very best - let's really make this last month fun!
Thank you,
Coach <XXXX>
Youth Hockey Director
Summer Camp Director

My heart breaks for every employee there. To us, they have become a family and have nowhere to go. We were told this weekend that there a few possible deals in the works but nothing definite yet. The Town was rumored to be in talks with management but we all know that nothing is going to become of it. With all governments big and small tightening their belts and slashing their budgets, there is no way the town can afford to take over something so costly. The owners are greedy to boot. They bought the rink a few years ago for $2 million and are now attempting to sell it for $5.5 million and won't budge on their asking price. They are living in La-La-Land if they think they'll get that.
We were given some email addresses to bombarded with messages on what the rink means to us as skaters, players, parents, families, etc. I would like to share the letter I wrote with all of you. I think it tells our story and feelings quite well...

I am writing to you on behalf of the family. We have been a part of the <XYZ Ice Rink> family for the last 4 years. I say family because that's what <XYZ Ice Rink> has become to us. Let me share a bit of our history with you:
My son, <GoalieBoy>, started Learn to skate in 2007 at the age of 5. He couldn't wait to learn because he wanted to be a hockey player. The instructors were great teaching a young child to skate. They were patient, loving and kind. By the following Spring he was through the skating and hockey classes and began Spring league as a Mite. Since then Coach T and Coach J (along with several wonderful parent volunteers) have helped him develop into an awesome goalie. Hockey has become, in all essence, his life. He lives and breathes hockey. Hockey is teaching him many life skills such as: teamwork, perseverance, sportsmanship, endurance, healthy competition, how to stay healthy and active, just to name a few. <GoalieBoy> is a child that struggles in school and always has to work extra hard to keep up with his classmates. He has lacked self confidence. Hockey gives him self confidence and strength of character. He believes in himself, his coaches and his teammates. <XYZ Ice Rink> has given him what school has not. If the rink closes he will be devastated. His self confidence will be taking two steps back.
My daughter, , has been skating at the rink for the last 2 years. I've seen her skating skills grow in leaps and bounds under the direction of many wonderful instructors. She loves everyone there and has been looking to starting freestyle lessons in the next 6 months.
My children were devastated when we told them the news that <XYZ Ice Rink> was closing. We have become close with so many families, coaches, and instructors. My husband has volunteer coached and enjoys helping the kids grow as players. I've become a dedicated hockey/skating mom. There have been times I'm at the rink three days for hockey and another 2 for skating. Often we throw in another day and go open skating, do sticks and pucks or a goalie clinic. I feel we live there and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm the mom who not only ties on skates but helps put on goalie pads. There is no other place my family wants to be.
Without <XYZ Ice Rink> skating and hockey will die a quick, painful death in our County. The closest rink is 45 minutes away. With the cost of gas it will be an enormous financial struggle on top of the the struggling economy we are facing. Our kids chose to skate and play hockey because they have a passion and talent for it. We've done everything we can to keep their dreams alive. There are so many people, especially children, that will lose a lot if this rink closes. Please, please help us save <XYZ Ice Rink>. I know that I speak for many parents and childdren when I say I will do whatever it takes to help keep it open...volunteer my time, talents and energy into making this work. Think of our youth.
The Family

Now all we can do is sit and wait. We've heard various rumors about potential buyers. I heard 3 local families are looking to negotiate the purchase of the rink. I also heard there's a company in the next state over that may be interested in it. The biggest kink in everything is the greedy owners. I'm hoping and praying something can be worked out. At this point in time, we've been told that no matter what the rink will shut down on June 5th. If buyers are found then the rink should hopefullly reopen in September. We don't know if this will truly happen and if so what changes it will bring.
Right now we are madly calling up rinks and attempting to get information. There are no ice rinks in our county. The closest rinks are at least 45 minutes away. Many hockey programs have already had fall tryouts and have formed teams. Everything for us is up in the air. Our hockey family, as they've become, will be scattered to the wind. I don't know how we can even afford it, to be totally honest. We are struggling financially right now. The rink has worked with us on payment plans and such because we have been there so long. They know our family's love of skating and hockey. We've been blessed with them. Many of the other skating/hockey programs further away cost more and that doesn't include gas and travel. I don't know how my son will be able to focus on school work in the car. I know we'll work it out because, as I stated in the above letter, hockey IS his life. His goal is to be an Olympic Hockey Goalie and play in the NHL. It is his reason for "being". He will be devastated if he can't play. We have done everything in our power to keep him involved in the game. We will continue to do so.
I pray we get some resolution to this sooner than later. I have to say I've become very emotionally and mentally caught up in it. My heart races and head spins when I start to think about it. It's actually made me jittery, anxious and almost downright depressive over this. I can't help feeling this way. It's not a common feeling for me. The last time I felt like this was when I found out my compensation coverage was being cut by 75% and I was overwhelmed with dread on how we were going to live. I have to get my mind off of it. I know it may sound silly to some of you but this has really taken a toll on us. I guess for me, it's seeing how positively hockey has impacted my son. He doesn't have a lot of self confidence...he has hearing issues, he just got bi-focals, he struggles with reading, he has a hard time focusing (in everything but hockey). This rink is his life line and I can easily see it impacting his future. I want to continue to see the positive impact of teamwork, self confidence, sportsmanship and strong friendships. I fear the bleakness if it's all taken away.
However, I refuse to give up without a fight. I will stay strong. I will stay positive. I will be there for my son through thick and thin because I am his strongest advocate. I am GaolieMom!

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