My Ryde Arena Story
I started skating at Ryde arena in 1991 aged 5. My older sister started lessons as soon as the rink opened…I got jealous of how good she became so I decided I wanted to learn too! I soon became hooked and was training 3 times a week before school and at weekends. Ryde Arena became my second home. I have been committed to figure skating for over 26 years now.
I competed nationally from the ages of 6-18. My coach for 13 years was Katie McGovern-Nyman and I owe all of this to her. I became an elite figure skater representing the Isle of Wight at all national competitions.
At 18 I auditioned for Holiday on Ice and became a professional skater touring the world in shows for over 4 years. Travelling the world and performing as a professional ice skater was the most incredible thing I have done. I am so lucky I was able to experience this. Performing in front of over 10,000 people at the Bercy arena in Paris is one of the highlights of my skating career. The buzz of entertaining all of those people is a feeling I will never forget. If it wasn't for Ryde Arena, I would never have achieved this.
After touring for 4 years, I gained my coaching qualification and moved to Cardiff to coach full time 2008-2011.
I moved back to the Isle of Wight in 2011 because of my father's terminal illness. I then began coaching at Ryde Arena and haven't looked back since. It has been 5 years of fun, hard work, commitment, dedication and absolute heartbreak. The locks were changed by AEW on 6th October 2016 and I couldn't open the front doors of the rink to coach my pupils. It was devastating sending them home at 5.45am on that Thursday morning, telling them we had been locked out.
I met my husband through Ryde Arena as he is an ice hockey player. I owe a lot to that little building!
Ryde arena has made me the person I am today. I would never have become a professional skater, travelled the world and taught hundreds of children - and adults to skate. I absolutely love coaching - it is the most rewarding job imaginable. I love seeing my skaters progress and having fun on the ice. Performing and competing gives skaters self- confidence, keeps them fit and healthy and keeps them safe.
Since the closure of our rink, I have been travelling over to Gosport on Sunday mornings for the 6-9.30am session. This means a 4am ferry. The dedication of the islands skaters is phenomenal. I am so proud of all the skaters for not giving up on their dreams and continuing to train elsewhere.
I also hire a studio at wightfit gym to do off -ice classes during the week. Off-ice is useful but obviously not quite the same as training on the ice.
The commute to Gosport is an expensive and tedious journey. It is not fair for our young skaters to be setting their alarms at 3am on a Sunday just to be able to get some ice time!
The Isle of Wight NEEDS an ice rink. We cannot let our children and future generations miss their vocation, enjoy their hobby, make lifelong friends without an ice rink. There is such talent here and I would hate for all their hardwork and dedication to be wasted.
With Sophie Rolf at the charity Gala which the figure skating club put together in May 2012. We raised over £1500 for sophie's charity, Kissy Puppy. Sophie only lived a few months after this.
At my first mainland competition in Basingstoke aged 7
Winning gold aged 12
In Brazil in holiday on ice.
Video Below: Skating for and with Sophie Rolf at the Charity Gala