In my last blog I caught up with Beth Merz whose daughter, Brynn, is a participant in the “Learn to Skate” program at Reisterstown Sportsplex in Westminster, Maryland. Beth praised the efforts of all the instructors involved in the program. She went on and on about how kind and knowledgeable the staff is. Beth and Brynn were particularly fond of Kirsten West, Director of Figure Skating. “Kirsten is warm, friendly and encouraging. Brynn loves her,” Beth said.
With that, I felt it was time to hit up Kirsten for an interview to get the ultimate insider’s perspective on this program and find out why it’s such a success.
Kirsten West has been the skating director at Reisterstown Sportsplex since it opened in 2008. She grew up in the Baltimore area and her skating career actually began at eight years old in a Learn-to-Skate program. After that, she began taking private lessons, then started competing. At around sixteen, she began helping teach basic skills classes, then moved into teaching group lessons while competing at Towson University in inter-collegiate competitions with the TU Figure Skating Club. She graduated from TU in 2007 and after teaching pre-school for a few months, she was hired by Rink Management Services Corporation to teach at Reisterstown.
Immediately, I dove right in and asked Kirsten what makes this program so great. Without hesitation, she said the people. “Like Beth said, our instructors are not only knowledgeable, but also patient, flexible people who genuinely love what they do. It plays a big part in how we keep the atmosphere fun and inviting,” Kirsten continued, “some of our coaches and skate aids are young too, which helps them relate to younger students.”
I then asked what makes Reisterstown’s program unique. “While the program itself follows a curriculum developed by US Figure Skating, there are several added bonuses we’ve implemented that you may not find at other rinks,” she replied. A few of the “bonuses” she referred to are:
- Pre-Hockey Program - for those who are interested in skating specifically to play hockey.
- In-House Basic Skills Competition - Though it’s main function is to promote fun, the skills competition gives students an opportunity to showcase the skills they’ve learned in one big competition-style event.
- Learn-to-Skate GROUPON - Recently offered a Groupon featuring a great Learn-to-Skate deal which the rink plans to offer again soon.
With reasonable pricing, great offers, and a talented group of teachers, Kirsten has seen the number of students participating in the program grow exponentially in just four years. “Even through the tough economy, patronage has been strong,” she said. Looking to the future, Kirsten expects more growth of the student body, as well as continued skating improvement by current students who stick with it, growing more together each year.
To wrap things up, I asked Kirsten what the program had in store for students this summer. She got very excited and said, “Another great perk about the Reisterstown Sportsplex figure skating program is that we also offer a full day Figure Skating Camp for four weeks in the summer. The purpose of the camp is to promote growth and fun in figure skating from beginner through the advanced levels. It gives kids a great opportunity to get an edge on their skills during the summer. The camp offers a wide variety of on-ice activities, such as edge classes, jump and spin sessions, power skating, synchronized skating, artistry, and even a “demonstration of skills” show at the end of each week. The Figure Skating camp is taught by our higher level instructors that also teach in our group lesson program. It’s a great way to beat the heat in the summer!”
Reisterstown Sportsplex Summer Camp 2012 dates:
July 9th-July 13th
July 23rd-July 27th
August 13th-August 17th
August 20th-August 24th
You can find more information about the camp and registration on our website at www.rtownsports.com under the “camps” tab.