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My Roller Hockey Home Has Closed


MTH
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I played roller hockey since the 90s at the local skating rink. It was the same rink that I had my birthday parties at, went to every Friday night to skate, overnight skating sessions, couples skates, etc. Coronavirus forced the place to close since last March. The owner did all he could to keep it afloat... but he had to close down at the end of January 2021.

It was a survivor from the heyday of roller disco from the 70s. Cinderblock walls were updated with cement hard glass on top. One end was cut off so that a large jungle gym could be added for the kids. The other end had corners that were not really rounded. Not to mention the DJ booth at the one corner. 

Image result for deptford skating rink

The carpets were loud. There was the skate room full of peanut butter skates with orange wheels. Pictures of kids from the day in their figure skating attire with dads standing ever so proudly next to them. It was full of so many memories.

I didn't go there as much as I should. Same things we all say when we lose something we loved. I felt like I let down the owner by not giving him more business. I tried. I had my kids in in many programs there. They would even go to the summer camps all summer until they were old enough to stay home.

Image result for deptford skating rink

I really hoped my kids could one day work there. Maybe in the kitchen making the infamous skating rink pizzas that were as hard as the floor. If anything, I thought they'd go there with their friends to meet other kids and do what kids do at the skating rink.

Image result for deptford skating rink

Sadly, my kids never really wanted to go there. Their friends didn't either. The skating rink crowds were mostly real young kids and not the pre-teen and teenagers that were there when I was of that age. Just the way kids are now. With their phones, the need to all go to a place to see other kids isn't needed.

We all played one last game before it was shut down. Some people were flying around as they still play frequently. Others, like myself, hadn't been on the court in several years and looked every part of an old guy out there. The blisters are still killing my feet. I played like crap. I didn't care - we played for hours because none of us wanted it to end.

When it did, we took pictures and stood around thinking of all the hours we all spent there. We told stories and tried to convey to the owner how much we appreciated him and all he did. The sadness of it all hasn't really hit me until now. 

We all helped pull out what remaining items were left onto the floor. They were holding a 'yard sale' the following day. Old dusty speakers, unused cans of paint. The jungle gym was gone as was the last sound system. A few games remained on the side with "sold" tags on them.

My buddy who owns the place was quite upset. I can't imagine what he's been going through these past few months.

The building will become a wharehouse with ample parking around it. New garage doors are being installed as the ceiling tiles, with disco lights and a disco ball are no more. The sport court was beat up. It was installed after a bad storm flooded the rink and warped the original wood floor. It's hard to think we played hockey on a wood floor with concrete walls. For hours a night. New people would come in and question our sanity.

It was our home for decades. She'll be missed.

Thanks for the memories Deptford Skating Rink or as it was called the past few decades, "DSC". Will not be the same to go by the place and not see the skating rink anymore.

Image result for deptford skating rink

 

Edited by MTH
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@MTH wow that sucks. I didn’t play a lot of hockey there but went on those sweet weekend school organized field trips quite a few times.  I’ll pour one out for the old DSR.   Almost 3 years ago I played my last game of organized Hockey there.  Yeah I’m gonna need to pour more than one out tonight. 

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Sorry to hear that. A similar thing happened here also: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/2020/03/30/closure-michigan-roller-hockey-mecca-leaves-players-employees-heartbroken/2930210001/

I had actually signed my son up for hockey there as it was considerably cheaper than starting ice hockey, but he never got a chance to play before it closed. They also had a "yard sale" last year and sold everything off.

It's pretty crazy to see the slow death of roller hockey. Growing up we played 4-5 times a week at the outdoor rinks in Ferndale and Rochester Hills parks. Parking lots were full of cars, and always too many people wanting to skate. They were lighted so we'd often play until 10 PM. Anytime I've driven by now, they're empty and falling into disrepair. I still have my bag of Tour goalie pads somewhere.

Thanks for the reminder though, in the spring I'll make sure to get out there and show my kids what it's all about.

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Roller and floor hockey is how many of us in the States east of the Mississippi got our start playing organized hockey: Cheap, fun and available all year. While we couldn't wait for the retention ponds to freeze over in early December, we had plenty of roller and floor opportunities almost every time we wanted them. Once most of us were able to play organized ice hockey, we never looked back. We owe a debt to roller rinks and the like for being there for us and our parents when the money wasn't. 

Thanks for sharing.

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Confession time, as a wee lad growing up in Ottawa, Ontario, all of my hockey was played on outdoor rinks where the shooters learned to keep their shots low.  A puck that went over the boards may not be recovered until the spring melt, plus we may not have had a spare so a chunk of ice would have had to suffice.

I was 14, playing my first indoor game of hockey on "artificial" ice and it was weird.  Everything sounded different.  There was no need to change ends every 15 minutes so that the other team was now facing the cold outdoor wind, complete with stinging snow.

Many, many years later, on a family visit to Florida I viewed my first game of roller hockey at a beach side park.  My sons and I were amused by everything about it.  Good speed, nice flow, strange sounds from those wheels, it looked like fun and it was outside, bonus.  Both of my boys asked for and received roller blades that Christmas.  They were the only kids on our tiny dead end boulevard back home in Canada skating on wheels and taking tennis ball shots on their old man.  We had a blast.

But that was as close as I ever got to playing the wheeled version of hockey.  Our local rinks reverted to lacrosse in the summer time.

I can readily relate to the melancholy of losing your treasured roller rink.  My memories instead consist of thawing frozen toes and hardened mittens on a coal fired potbelly stove in the rink shack , then grabbing a heavy snow shovel and scraping the ice for the 7th period and hoping that we could get in "just one more game" before Dad showed up to drag us home, yes, with our skates still on.

 

Ahhhh, hockey memories ..............

Edited by Wonder35
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20 hours ago, dualshowman said:

Roller and floor hockey is how many of us in the States east of the Mississippi got our start playing organized hockey: Cheap, fun and available all year. While we couldn't wait for the retention ponds to freeze over in early December, we had plenty of roller and floor opportunities almost every time we wanted them. Once most of us were able to play organized ice hockey, we never looked back. We owe a debt to roller rinks and the like for being there for us and our parents when the money wasn't. 

Thanks for sharing.

This is a very sad reality.  I got my start in roller hockey because my parents couldn't afford to put my brother and I in ice hockey.  The outdoor rink in which I started playing has been gone for quite a long time.  The indoor rink where I played my high school and house league hockey, the local double small rink mecca I would say, has been relegated to one hockey rink that is only used for deck hockey(no more roller) and a field turf rink for flag football, soccer, and whatever else.  The rink I then moved on to play into my adult years, due to it having an NHL sized rink, has also since been relegated to some kind of children's indoor play place for 10 years now.  That is what prompted me to move to ice hockey.  There are still three more local rinks surviving.  This past September I played inline hockey for the first time in those 10 years and I will admit I did not enjoy it.  While I did love seeing a lot of the guys I played youth travel, high school, and a bunch of friends from years past that I don't see anymore after moving on to ice...the actual games were just not fun for me.  I didn't enjoy being on wheels again and not being able to move around fluidly like I can on ice.  I definitely have no plans of ever going back to inline hockey full time but I will be forever grateful for the past that it gave me. 

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  • 1 year later...
On 2/4/2021 at 4:05 PM, MTH said:

I played roller hockey since the 90s at the local skating rink. It was the same rink that I had my birthday parties at, went to every Friday night to skate, overnight skating sessions, couples skates, etc. Coronavirus forced the place to close since last March. The owner did all he could to keep it afloat... but he had to close down at the end of January 2021.

It was a survivor from the heyday of roller disco from the 70s. Cinderblock walls were updated with cement hard glass on top. One end was cut off so that a large jungle gym could be added for the kids. The other end had corners that were not really rounded. Not to mention the DJ booth at the one corner. 

Image result for deptford skating rink

The carpets were loud. There was the skate room full of peanut butter skates with orange wheels. Pictures of kids from the day in their figure skating attire with dads standing ever so proudly next to them. It was full of so many memories.

I didn't go there as much as I should. Same things we all say when we lose something we loved. I felt like I let down the owner by not giving him more business. I tried. I had my kids in in many programs there. They would even go to the summer camps all summer until they were old enough to stay home.

Image result for deptford skating rink

I really hoped my kids could one day work there. Maybe in the kitchen making the infamous skating rink pizzas that were as hard as the floor. If anything, I thought they'd go there with their friends to meet other kids and do what kids do at the skating rink.

Image result for deptford skating rink

Sadly, my kids never really wanted to go there. Their friends didn't either. The skating rink crowds were mostly real young kids and not the pre-teen and teenagers that were there when I was of that age. Just the way kids are now. With their phones, the need to all go to a place to see other kids isn't needed.

We all played one last game before it was shut down. Some people were flying around as they still play frequently. Others, like myself, hadn't been on the court in several years and looked every part of an old guy out there. The blisters are still killing my feet. I played like crap. I didn't care - we played for hours because none of us wanted it to end.

When it did, we took pictures and stood around thinking of all the hours we all spent there. We told stories and tried to convey to the owner how much we appreciated him and all he did. The sadness of it all hasn't really hit me until now. 

We all helped pull out what remaining items were left onto the floor. They were holding a 'yard sale' the following day. Old dusty speakers, unused cans of paint. The jungle gym was gone as was the last sound system. A few games remained on the side with "sold" tags on them.

My buddy who owns the place was quite upset. I can't imagine what he's been going through these past few months.

The building will become a wharehouse with ample parking around it. New garage doors are being installed as the ceiling tiles, with disco lights and a disco ball are no more. The sport court was beat up. It was installed after a bad storm flooded the rink and warped the original wood floor. It's hard to think we played hockey on a wood floor with concrete walls. For hours a night. New people would come in and question our sanity.

It was our home for decades. She'll be missed.

Thanks for the memories Deptford Skating Rink or as it was called the past few decades, "DSC". Will not be the same to go by the place and not see the skating rink anymore.

Image result for deptford skating rink

 

Maybe an ice hockey rink can buy the property, and melt the ice for roller use in the summer. 

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