After reading your Sept. 22 cover story, “Beyond the Wheels,” about the growing popularity of roller-skating in Asheville [“Roller-skating Renaissance: Recent and Well-established Groups Discuss WNC’s Coasting Community,” Xpress], I couldn’t help but think you’ve omitted one of the major players in the skating community.
Asheville Hockey League has had the biggest wheeled sport in Asheville for the last two decades. This year alone, there are almost 300 youth and adult players with the league! It’s great to see other new groups follow the passion of skating in all forms, but it begs the question of possibly a new rink in the future? Our kids and adults have only this rink to play inline hockey for 60 miles, and more and more groups are vying for a place to skate.
Our son and daughter have been skating with AHL’s youth league since before they knew how to tie their own shoes (let alone those cumbersome skates). It has been amazing to watch how the sport of hockey has helped my kids, along with the other 140-plus kids, build confidence and foster friendships, not to mention the health benefits of staying active, all while having fun. The energy from the organization is incredibly positive, and one just needs to come down to the rink on a Saturday morning to feel it — plus the bonus of watching some healthy competition and great hockey playing is also a blast! Come catch a youth game from 9 a.m. (little Mites) to 12:30 p.m., when our oldest division starts.
The ever-growing community of enthusiastic hockey families who support one another is beautiful to see and be a part of, which is a far cry from the violent, hard-hitting sport people tend to associate with hockey. Asheville Youth Hockey is coed (20-plus girls in four divisions) and noncontact. The league has also partnered with Asheville Parks and Rec to offer Free Learn to Skate nights. Members of AHL volunteer at community centers in town, bringing hockey to kids who wouldn’t have a chance to otherwise learn about our sport and offering scholarships and free equipment rental to new youth players.
I hope that we can find a balance for the use of the public rink at Carrier Park because it is the only place our budding little hockey players can get their game on. Again, we love to see all the new skaters wheelin’ around, but please, Asheville Parks and Rec, help us find a way to keep all these groups rollin’ and help ensure that our hockey kids don’t get squeezed out. And that future roller-skaters (quads) have a place to go as well.
— Jolie Kaiser, proud hockey mom
Justin Kaiser, AHL Youth Commissioner, coach extraordinaire and proud hockey dad