It’s a sad day in the Mahoning Valley for all who have walked through the doors of the Ice Zone in Boardman.
Most area residents will look at the closing of the building as a natural result of the lack of popularity locally of ice hockey, figure skating and recreational skating.
I’ve heard it over the last 16 years, “That sport is too expensive,” “It works up north, but not here”, “My kid will play football, basketball, or baseball ... those are the only sports that count.”
Those naysayers never laced up skates, woke up at 6 a.m. to take their kid to play hockey games in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New York, and watched their kid skate on the Joe Louis Arena ice surface in Detroit.
They never saw a kid walk on the ice and see their eyes light up like Christmas every time they went to the rink.
They never played a pickup game with the over 40 guys and came home to tell their stories of how great they played and how they couldn’t wait until the next game.
They never took the opportunity to go their daughters’ ice skating lessons or watched her perform in the ice show.
They never sat at the dinner table and talked about the jumps, turns and landings. They never saw the gleam in their child’s eyes when they learned to skate backwards.
I was there back in 1996 when the Ice Zone was being built. I sat in the parking lot as construction vehicles were building my palace.
Since then, I played in adult hockey leagues, I coached my sons, I brought my daughters there for skating lessons, birthday parties and Friday night open skates. I was there last week to coach my high school team, and I will be there when the doors are closed.
So forgive me as I grieve the loss of “my palace”. here are many out there like me, I know, I’ve seen them, talked to them, shared stories with them, and now grieve with them. Mr. [Bruce] Zoldan I sincerely thank you, and all of the people who have given their blood, sweat and tears to make it happen.
I was just not ready to say “goodbye.”
Hopefully, there is an entity in our community that may either buy this rink or build a rink our valley youth and its citizens.