Area seniors skate for fun


BOARDMAN — They call themselves the Coffee Club. They meet every Tuesday morning; they are all over age 55; and their passion is ice skating.

“I don’t drink coffee at all, no caffeine,” said one member, Dee Ferris.

Ferris, of Canfield, is in her late 70s and has been a member of the club since it began in 1997. It began as a synchronized ice skating team. After their coach became ill, the “old women,” as Ferris called her teammates, quit competing and began taking a one-hour lesson together.

Today, Ferris said, the club has become coed and is about staying active and socializing.

“I am keeping myself fit in a fun way. If I had to go to the gym every day and get on those [exercise] machines, I would be so bored,” she said.

Ferris cannot quite remember when she put on her first pair of skates, and she cannot remember who held her hand the first time she stepped onto the rink, but she said she never forgot the feeling and that is what she loves most.

“You get out on the ice, and when you start moving on that ice,, you have such a feeling of freedom. It is hard to describe,” she said.

Ferris skates two or three times a week, enjoys yoga, and is also a member of Kick It Up Cloggers, a local team.

She also was able to turn her active lifestyle into a career. In her younger days, she taught all types of swimming lessons, including synchronized swimming, at the YMCA in Youngstown.

A health-conscious person, Ferris said the only indulgence she enjoys is a peanut butter parfait from Dairy Queen.

“I don’t stay still for very long,” Ferris said.

Proof of that is in her actions. In addition to the Coffee Club lesson, Ferris takes a private lesson every Monday. She has perfected her moves to the point of efficiency, but, she said, her days of competing are over.

“There are too many skaters who are good. I don’t need to pursue skating. I am just out there to skate,” she added.

The Coffee Club is part of a larger learn-to-skate program run by the Ice Zone on McClurg Road.

Skip Mackall, the Ice Zone’s assistant general manager and director of skating, said there are more that 900 participants, but he is always surprised at what the Coffee Club can do.

“They are so loyal. Rarely does someone miss a week.”

The club still puts on two performances a year, the most recent one being its Christmas show. Mackall said synchronized skating is the fastest-growing part of ice skating, and Coffee Clubs are popping up in more rinks every day.

January is designated by U.S. Figure Skating as National Ice Skating Month.

The Ice Zone also is home to a kids group and a teen group. He said at the senior age level, it is mostly about the friendship.

“Every time they get together, it is like a reunion. It is a social outlet for them,” Mackall said.

Mackall can only take a guess at Ferris’ age (79), but Ferris, who will not give the real number away, said age does not matter when anyone is on the ice.

“The thing about skating is that everyone is the same age. You can associate with a 12-year-old, and they can associate with you,” she said.

The only thing she does not enjoy about the kids is their music, and Mackall is accommodating to his friend of seven years. He gives the adults some say in what music is played. Both agree that ice skating should be all about fun. That is why Ferris and her club keep coming back.

“We have a lot of fun, and if you keep it fun, people will stay involved,” she said.

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