In the Long Island, N.Y. town of Islip, there lies a 97-acre plot called Hidden Pond Park. Within the park, there lies The Rinx, a 20-year-old ice skating facility that also has swimming pools for summer recreation.
And inside The Rinx, there are two available skating rinks and quality instructional programs a child can participate in to become the best ice skater or hockey player he or she wants to be.
The Total Skating Program, The Rinx’ Learn to Skate series of classes, is a year-round opportunity for skaters of all ages to either begin their ice skating experience or advance their skill level to the highest possible ranks in the sport.
For 2014, The Total Skating Program was awarded the Professional Skaters Association Fritz Dietl Award for Ice Arena Excellence.
“The Rinx Total Skating Program was selected as this year's Fritz Dietl Award winner because of the variety and quality of opportunities their facility offers,’’ the PSA said. “The skating program at The Rinx has clearly made a positive impression in the lives of its athletes, whether a beginning skater, competitive figure skating, hockey player, and even among parents. PSA is proud to have the coaches of The Rinx Total Skating Program as members of our association.”
“We are fortunate that we can offer the convenience of a large variety of classes and we can offer them ever day of the week,’’ said Cathryn Schwab, Director of Skating at The Rinx. “We can offer classes during public skating sessions, which is something a lot of rinks aren’t able to do.”
For the 2013-14 season, The Rinx signed up 2,900 participants for all of its Learn to Skate and higher skating classes, as well as hockey instruction classes.
The Rinx has been in existence since 1992, but 10 years ago it had a renaissance when the management of the rink was turned over to the Palamara family. Today three generations of Palamaras – patriarch Frank, son Tom, and grandson Tom Jr. - run the place, and even the youngest members of the family are involved in teaching classes and operating the facility or participating in day camp management.
The Rinx now has three locations, with the main location being at Hidden Pond Park. It also operates a small outdoor rink in Port Jefferson, New York as well as the Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center in nearby Bethpage.
The coaching staff at The Rinx is familiar to all members, even as it grows.
“You keep your staff and you keep your customers,’’ Schwab said. “The coaches we have in our main building have been here for years. We have a great program that develops our higher level skaters that are looking to make money as they are going to college. They serve in the apprenticeship program first, then come onto our staff and start working as junior coaches, and they can work their way up to senior coach status.”
In mid-August, The Rinx will host the 2014 Summer Open presented by the Skating Club of New York, which this year includes a pairs competition thanks to the growth of the event and the need in the area for competitive pairs events.
This very professional rink is run by a family-oriented group for the enjoyment and instruction of a tight-knit community.
“It’s a private business owned by the Palamara family, and it is a successful example of how towns and private enterprise can work together to be fiscally responsible and provide qualify programs for their residents,’’ Schwab said.