By John DeCoste
The sport - or activity, depending on how serious you are about it – of speed skating is coming to the Annapolis Valley.
The Valley Speed Skating Club (VSSC) is now a reality, with the aim of supporting and promoting speed skating in the Valley region for all ages and abilities.
During its inaugural season, the VSSC, according to club president Steve Raftery of Bridgetown, “aims to expose the sport to as many people as possible, providing opportunities for children, youth and adults to ‘try it out’ by getting them onto speed skates to experience the speed, fun and excitement.”
The club also hopes to build a core group of skaters and volunteers to help the club and the sport grow throughout the Valley region, Raftery says.
During the 2012-2013 season, the VSSC plans to offer two open house/demonstration sessions and a weekly one-hour ice practice. The first of the sessions took place in August at the Kentville Centennial Arena.
In early 2013, the VSSC will offer a winter program that, in addition to the weekly sessions, will also provide opportunity for at least two club trips to the Emera Oval in Halifax for training and/or competition.
The club is working with Todd Landon, a Regional Development Mentor and Long Track Speed Skating coach with Speed Skating Canada and the Sport Centre Atlantic.
Plans are underway to have the VSSC pilot a new Learn to Skate program jointly developed by Hockey Canada, Ringette Canada and Speed Skating Canada.
Also on hand to assist is Melissa Newton, the Valley Region Community Sport Development Coordinator for Sport Nova Scotia, who has joined the VSSL board.
Sean McGee, an Acadia student and an experienced competitive skater, is the club’s volunteer coach, and also hopes to start a student speed skating school at Acadia.
The VSSC, Raftery points out, “will link up with the Acadia club, which should help provide additional leadership this season and into the future.”
Landon and McGee will also be looking to identify youth with potential for provincial and regional programs, as well as the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
According to Raftery, the key to the VSSC’s success this season will be the support and participation of the community as skaters or as coaches or volunteers.
“This is a brand new activity for the Annapolis Valley region, and we will be monitoring and evaluating continually as we go forward,” he said.
“We will be tracking all the participants in the demo sessions and regular sessions, and will be seeking feedback from participants and parents.”
Anyone interested in speed skating, or who thinks they would like to give it a try, or interested in helping out in any way with the club, is encouraged to contact Raftery, 824-0387 or firstname.lastname@example.org.