ST. ALBANS — When most people think of the Collins Perley Complex ice rink, hockey comes to mind, but for the past 25 years, the Collins Perley Figure Skating Club has also been using the ice to train skaters.
Rhonda Somers-Fletcher, the founder of the program, and a graduating skater, Sydney Heth joined Messenger Sports to talk about the program they love.
Sydney, what sparked your interest in figure skating? “My siblings and I all started skating together, and I was the one who stuck with it. I love the community feeling, and it’s a ton of fun.”
The figure skating club hosts an annual performance where skaters of all ages can showcase their talent.
Have you had a favorite performance? “We did a performance based on ‘Thriller.’ I wore a zombie dress, and it was a fun and upbeat performance.”
As a student, what value do you see this program brings to the area after all these years? “Togetherness and community! I’ve also grown in confidence. There are some jumps I haven’t wanted to throw, but once I landed them and actually did it, it was such a great feeling. I could relate that to other things in life.”
Jumping! “It’s kind of scary, but we start with smaller jumps and build on that through the years.”
25 years of figure skating in St. Albans: 2021 was the 25th anniversary of the figure skating program, and while the program was unable to perform, they were able to be on the ice for most of the winter.
“We were grateful to have a season, but we were so disappointed not to have a show this winter. We were grateful to Tim Veins and the Complex for helping us navigate everything with Covid,” said Somers-Fletcher.
What has Sydney brought to the program on and off the ice? “Sydney has helped coach the younger kids, and she is so engaging. She’s a positive kid, and she always has such a positive attitude.”
What stands out to you over the last 25 years of the program? “I think about how many kids we’ve touched. I see them in the community today, and it’s so heartwarming to know we’ve made an impact on them. I’m very proud of the program and the coaches we’ve had for the last 25 years.”
What inspired you to get this program off the ground 25 years ago? “I grew up in across the border outside of Montreal, and I figure skated for years. I was blessed to have parents who always encouraged me to try things. I was so thankful for what my parents did for me, and I think about that for these kids and this community.”
What do you see in the future for the program? Rhonda: “I’m planning to be back next year with all our coaches. We’re all volunteers, and I hope this program continues to thrive as it always has.”
Sydney: “I’m going to college, but when I come back for breaks, I want to come and help the little kids. My sister will still be skating, so I’ll be coming back to join my group.”
Are you interested in skating with the Collins Perley Figure Skating Club next year? You can visit the clubs website: collinsperleyfigureskating.com or visit their Facebook page.