Tillsonburg Skating Club is back on the ice in limited numbers training for the upcoming season, in whatever form that season might take.
“With Skate Ontario protocol right now, we’re (currently) limited to 15 skaters, plus five coaches, on the ice surface,” said Penny Jelsma, head coach at the Tillsonburg Skating Club.
“I would say we’ve had great attendance this summer. Kids just want to do something and be active and be social with each other. It was hard to offer anything for the younger groups, the ones that are just starting to get into figure skating. There wasn’t enough ice time available to us. So hopefully, come winter, we’re able to offer skating for everyone.”
Jelsma noted they have one hour on the ice, then break for 30 minutes to allow ice resurfacing and cleaning (skaters leave the building during breaks). Dressing rooms remain closed. Skaters arrive wearing gear and have designated chairs set up in the corridor outside the rooms to put on skates, skateguards, shoes and face masks. Personal water bottles are spaced out on the boards.
“I think we are just very pleased to get back to – somewhat – normalcy,” said Jelsma. “I know the kids that have come into the arena have really missed skating. They’ve missed the social aspect. So mentally, I think this (return) has been a very positive experience for them. And I think the parents miss watching them do what they love, too, and being involved.”
After shutting down in March due to the temporary closure of the Tillsonburg Community Centre, skating began again for Star 3-6 and competitive levels the week of July 18.
“It’s really important, mentally and physically, for these kids to be active. Very much so. The kids need structure, they need routine.”
There is uncertainty, however.
“The uncertainty is… is there going to be a competitive season? Is life going to get back to normal? So all around, it’s just not ideal. It’s not ideal for these kids to train every day and not have a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Jelsma is optimistic there will be some kind of competition in the new year.
“I think maybe it’s going to be adjusted in terms of location and who can come to those competitions. It might be a smaller venue. I can’t see us going to a competition in Toronto, but maybe we’d go to a competition in Norwich or Simcoe – more localized.”