A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

It’s Not Roller Derby: Tates Creek Elementary skating program keeps kids active, healthy


By Tammy L. Lane
Special to KyForward

Roller derby it’s not, but students at Tates Creek Elementary have a blast circling the gym on their borrowed wheels. Physical education teacher Daniel Hill arranged the four-week series through Skatetime, an Indianapolis-based company that rents equipment to schools. Hill, who first tried it while teaching in Frankfort, brought the idea to Tates Creek last year after the building’s renovations.

“I wanted it to be an active, healthy reward,” Hill recalled. “Why not use the brand-new facility to do something fun?”

While some children go to birthday/skating parties at the local Champs Entertainment Complex, others don’t have ready access to a roller rink. These lessons in P.E. class fill that void, as Hill said, “We bring it to them.” “I’m anxious to see how the students from last year remember the skills since this is the second year we’ve done it,” he added.

While some children go to birthday/skating parties at the local Champs Entertainment Complex, others don’t have ready access to a roller rink. These lessons in P.E. class fill that void (Photo Provided)

While some children go to birthday/skating parties at the local Champs Entertainment Complex, others don’t have ready access to a roller rink. These lessons in P.E. class fill that void (Photo Provided)

In a Week 2 session, third-graders raced in to lace up their skates and strap on wrist guards like old pros. Some also chose to use elbow and knee pads; helmets were optional.

“When working with beginners, you make sure they’re well-protected. It’s always safety first,” said Skatetime instructor Richie Freeman, who dropped in on Tates Creek.

Freeman shared a few tips such as keeping the knees bent and staying low to the ground for better control, and he showed the youngsters how to shift their weight to propel their body forward – a sort of push-and-glide approach. Freeman also demonstrated a crossover move to use in corners and multiple ways to stop quickly to avoid a collision. Students reviewed the T-stand, which prevents rolling side to side, and practiced leaning down to touch a line on the court while rolling along smoothly. As a group, they also attempted to complete three laps with no wipeouts.

“I just started on skates at Champs, and I’m learning how to balance and how to bend and get back up,” said 9-year-old Kenzie Shellhammer, who also enjoys jump rope. “We put on wrist guards so if you fall, you don’t hurt your hands,” added classmate Andrue Turner.

Hill emphasized the basics from the beginning, with students first learning how to put on the gear, and then how to stand, fall, accelerate, and stop properly. They started out on gymnastics mats, where they got used to wearing the hard-leather or vinyl boot skates.

“When you feel confident to step off those mats – and that’s a big step – you will roll,” Hill said. “It’s definitely at their own pace. It’s a lot of balance and coordination. But the biggest benefit is seeing the progression of learning something, especially in a student who does not know how to skate from Day 1.”

Hill suggested when somebody falls, the rest of the class clap for them and encourage them to try again. “That’s the first lesson: Everybody’s going to fall,” he noted. By the fourth session, though, most of the youngsters feel confident enough to try some advanced moves.

Hill credited families’ support and the school’s PTA for making this extended in-house field trip possible. The total bill was nearly $5,000 for the entire school to skate for four hours. If a child was unable to pay the $8 fee, the PTA stepped up to cover the difference. Many families also paid extra to offset the cost for other students. Skatetime’s Freeman believes it’s a valuable investment.

“Roller skating gets you up and moving, and we want you to be active your entire life. Not every kid’s a scholar, not every kid’s an athlete. But they do have latent talents that come out in skating. It’s a chance to showcase their skills,” Freeman said, adding, “It’s something you’ll be able to do the rest of your life – kind of like riding a bicycle.”

Tammy L. Lane is editor of the Fayette County Public School website


Related Posts

One Comment

  1. Gladys A. Doucet says:

    Great ideas for kids, children. I think that roller skates are very good for health not only for adults but also for kids. Roller skating is popular today, especially along the boardwalks or sidewalks. Some people take professional roller skating in the indoor games. The roller skates help to boost the joint motion and limit the dislocation of joints. It also promotes fat burning and good mood.

Leave a Comment