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Learning in a fun environment takes the chill out of the rink

November 16, 2012 by  
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How skaters at the Hoffman Estates Park District’s Triphahn Center take their skating to new heights

By Nicolette House

Walking into the Triphahn Center skaters will immediately notice a few unique qualities. The training facility houses two ice surfaces, a full service gym, and ballet studio. Posters dedicated to good sportsmanship, goal setting, and self-esteem line the walls leading into the ice arena.

While the amenities alone make the Triphahn Center a prime training location, it’s the philosophy behind the skating program that keeps skaters coming back for more. Skating Director, Jennifer Dooley, has created a skating school that fosters a sense of learning and growth, rather than a win or lose mentality.

“Skating is a journey,” says Dooley, “We stress that skaters work on their personal challenges within the sport and not compare themselves to others.”

In a sport that so often focuses on children’s results and if they are the best skater at the rink, it’s refreshing to encounter a program that focuses on each skater’s individuals goals and abilities.

“I feel self-esteem is developed when children learn to do something that is difficult. Skating is difficult,” says Dooley.

Meeting the skaters where they are at is a key component of the skating program at the Triphahn Center. There are classes and ice times for skaters of all levels. Basic Skills group classes are offered for beginning skaters to those just starting to advance to the competitive ranks. Children as young as three can lace up a pair of skates and participate in the many Tot classes the park district offers.

For the more advanced skaters, practice ice time is available before and after school. Competitive skaters are able to participate in classes and seminars unique to this ice rink. The Axel class is offered through the park district and teaches more advanced skaters the proper technique for an axel jump. Developing this technique is key to advancing to the more difficult maneuvers.

“We also offer a Competitive Class that focuses on various spin positions, spiral positions, and footwork. Each month we pick something new to focus on,” says Dooley.

This winter Dooley is offering two three-day mini clinics over the winter break. Skaters start a typical camp day with a proper thirty to forty-five minute off- ice warm up. On the ice, skaters receive instruction on their edges, spirals, spins, and jumps. There is always room for a creative class at the end of the day (choreography or footwork) and plenty of time for skaters to practice what they’ve learned.

“The kids work hard during camp and they leave having learned something new,” notes Dooley. “They also have fun spending time with their friends on the breaks and practicing together.”

The Hoffman Estates figure skating academy  emphasizes children’s development over results. Parents are well educated on the basics of the sport, giving them greater insight into how to help their children succeed in skating. A unified system of technique provides skaters with quality instruction.

As long as the skaters continue to grow and master the goals they have set for themselves, then Dooley and the skating program have succeeded.

To learn more about the Hoffman Estates Park District’s figure skating academy visit:

Winter Skating Camp at the Hoffman Estates Park District Ice Arena

1685 W Higgins Rd. Hoffman Estates

Week 1: December 26,27, 28

Week 2: January 2,3,4

Contact: Jennifer Dooley (847) 781-3642 or

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