Lace-up those skates! Oshkosh area students can enjoy time outside in the fresh air and learn an exciting new skill: ice skating! Participating in Dr. Eric’s Skate Club, kids can be social and connect with their community and make friends while learning the sport’s mechanics!
What is Dr. Eric’s Skate Club?
The club, which meets weekly at Menomonee Park ice rink, was started in 2014 by Dr. Eric Smiltneek, Steve Eliason, and a group of principals from area schools. Smiltneek, a family doctor at Advocate Aurora Oshkosh, introduced the initiative to encourage lifelong fitness goals and healthy living attitudes for area students and provide a fun way for them to engage with their peers. “I had an opportunity to learn to ice skate at a young age on outdoor ice,” said Smiltneek, “I have continued to value this skill throughout my life and hope to bring this opportunity to others.”
Who can join?
Ice skating within the club is an activity that welcomes all skill levels and ages – the group has even had a two-year-old join them on the ice!
By introducing skating to children, the club helps promote activeness and kindness in the community. “Children love skating and do not realize they are exercising,” explains Smiltneek, “They often help their friends to learn to skate better!”
By joining the club, students can learn in a positive and interactive environment. “I hope that students learn to enjoy the outdoors and basic skating techniques,” said Smiltneek. Smiltneek, who is also a hockey coach, also runs basic skill drills and teaches students how to skate backward, do crossovers, and pick up on various hockey skills.
When does the club meet?
Students can look forward to skating fun each week, weather permitting. The club meets at the end of the school day until 4:30 pm. Club participants in the Oshkosh Area School District programs such as Lighted School House, MELT, and the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh, often come in small groups.
What is the cost to participate?
Thanks to many generous donors, the program is free to students and has continued to grow. The skating club also provides skates, which are FREE to use, to participate.
Dr. Eric’s Skate Club also offers FREE field trips and can bring floor hockey and cross-country skiing instruction to school.
The club partners with the International Youth Sailing School of Oshkosh and has many organizations supporting their mission. Donations are also welcome through the Dr. Eric Smiltneek Healthy Student Fund and are tax-deductible. The Oshkosh Parks Department, Oshkosh Area School District, YMCA, Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, and the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh are all part of making this program possible.
Roe Park Rink Weekend Skates
As we glide into a near year, Smiltneek is enthusiastic about the club expanding and improving. “We are increasing hours for skates available at the Roe Park rink!” he noted. The program provides skate lessons at Menomonee and hopes to help give skates for students at Roe. Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather and bring their helmets and mask for safety. Helmets and masks are also available through the club if a student needs them. Students can now practice their skills on the weekend at Roe Park on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 3 to 7 pm.
“See you on the ice!” – Dr. Eric
Smiltneek encourages all students interested in learning to ice skate to join the club and see what it is all about. What are you waiting for? Grab your skates, dress warm, and head to the rink!
For more information on Dr. Eric’s Skate Club, volunteer to help, or join, please visit them on social media at www.facebook.com/drericsskateclub.