The Nashville Predators and Scott Hamilton Skating Academy have put on an entirely free skating class this winter at Ascend Amphitheater.
"Go Skate" is a seven-week skating tutorial that helps children ages 5 to 12 learn to skate.
"The free lessons provide a beautiful opportunity for families to be able to see whether or not their children enjoy skating, before they invest their money on skating equipment," Manager of Scott Hamilton Skating Academy Paula Trujillo said. "We mostly teach them forward stuff on the ice; walking forward, marching forward, falling and being able get up and recover from that."
Each week, the young skaters are provided with skates and given 30 minutes with the coaches on the ice. The class usually has about 10 to 15 students in it, as well as several coaches to make sure each student is provided with the best opportunity to learn to skate.
"With the diversity of the coaches and the skill level we have, along with the different backgrounds we come from, we're able to hone in on different kids and when that kid is struggling, we can help them in the best possible way," Go Skate Coach Shawnee Smith said.
"One of the hardest things to teach a beginner is to help them become less fearful of skating," Coach Cody Howard said. "So many kids come in week one and say, 'I can't do this,' but then by week seven, they're buzzing around the rink."
Chris Cox, a father of two boys - 8 and 6 years old - who got interested in skating by watching the Olympics, has been impressed by the way his sons have progressed in such a little time.
"Just watching how they've developed over these past couple weeks in the class has been amazing," Cox said. "They started out having trouble even standing up on the ice, and now their darting back and forth."
During the last week of the "Go Skate" program, a graduation ceremony will be held, where each student shows off to his or her parents what they've learned. Each student is also provided with their very own free pair of ice skates that they're able to take home. In addition, the families receive a coupon that goes toward paying part of their lessons at the Academy, if they wish to continue with the classes.
The "Go Skate" program was started in Nashville three years ago and has since expanded to other cities around the southeast.
"We're just trying to make more Predators fans, hockey players, and more ice skaters." Trujillo said.
For more information on "Go Skate," and the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy, click here.