Families

This isn’t another ‘off the wall’ claim – this Whatcom ice skating teacher means it

Kids practice ice skating at Sportsplex in Bellingham. Classes for young skaters feature instruction devoted to improving to learning to trust a new teacher, skill and balance and handling the cold and slipperiness of the ice.
Kids practice ice skating at Sportsplex in Bellingham. Classes for young skaters feature instruction devoted to improving to learning to trust a new teacher, skill and balance and handling the cold and slipperiness of the ice. The Bellingham Herald file

Keri Ferguson doesn’t hesitate to express confidence in an ice skating promise.

When Ferguson, the director of skating at Bellingham’s Sportsplex, talks about Learn to Skate classes for 3- to 5-year-olds, she’s so enthusiastic that she puts her promise this way:

“I’ll have them off the wall by the third week,” she says, referring to the coaching skills she and her staff of 10 have often demonstrated in Snowplow Sam, the name of the lessons given to the youngest skaters when they first begin skating.

“Off the wall” refers to how the littlest ice skaters cling to the rink wall, much in the way tiny swimmers grip the pool side.

It won’t be long until her promise is tested anew. The 12-week Learn to Skate classes will begin with separating skaters according to skill levels and potential on Sept. 8 at 10 a.m. On the evening of Monday, Sept. 10, one-hour weekly classes will begin at 5 p.m. for the 3- to 5-year-olds.

The classes for these young skaters feature instruction devoted to trusting a new teacher, skill and balance and handling the cold and slipperiness of the ice. Parents can watch but are separate from the children.

“We highly recommend helmets,” says Ferguson, who is heading into her fourth year as Sportsplex skating director. “The adults (learning to skate) express fear (of falling) more than the youngest skaters.”

In addition to the tiniest skaters, classes are held for those ranging from 6 to 60 and beyond.

Register soon

It’s best to register quickly for fall Learn to Skate Classes, which are part of Learn to Skate USA.

Ferguson will be happy to answer questions online at kerif@bellinghamsportsplex.com, by phone at 360-676-1919 extension 106, or just drop by the Sportsplex.

In all, she says she has about 150 to 160 students for the 12-week sessions.

Cost is $175 for all 12 weeks.

“At the six-week mark, I’ll open it up for limited (extra) enrollment,” she says.

Staff of 10

Ferguson, with more than 40 years of coaching experience in the Northwest, is proud of her staff of 10.

“I have junior coaches and senior staff members, from 18 to 60,” says Ferguson, who came to Bellingham in August 2015, after a long career at the Lakewood Winter Club.

“We have a ratio of one teacher for every eight students,” she says, indicating plenty of individual attention is available for each student. “Our staff really makes it fun.”

At Lakewood, Ferguson had skaters qualify for nationals six consecutive years in the 1990s.

Sportsplex cheer

Ferguson last year began a Sportsplex Cheer Team for students in grades 6 through 8.

Students are trained to cheer for the Bellingham Blazers hockey team and for Bellingham United soccer clubs.

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