Roller skating enthusiasts Danielle McGrath (left) and Michelle Sylvest are teaching the old pastime to new skaters at the Nelson and District Youth Centre. Photo: Tyler Harper

Roller skating enthusiasts Danielle McGrath (left) and Michelle Sylvest are teaching the old pastime to new skaters at the Nelson and District Youth Centre. Photo: Tyler Harper

VIDEO: Learning how to roller skate at Nelson’s youth centre

Weekly classes show the joy of life on eight wheels

Even as a young child, Danielle McGrath had wheels attached to her feet.

From wearing Fisher Price skates on her shoes as a three year old to growing up roller blading on piers in Ontario and later playing derby for the Kootenay Killjoys, McGrath has always found joy in wheeling through life.

Especially, she later discovered, in a pair of roller skates.

“When you put them on you just feel free,” says McGrath.

But with derby games and practice shut down by the pandemic, McGrath and her Killjoys teammate Michelle Sylvest have turned to training the next generation of roller skate enthusiasts.

Every Wednesday night in February and through March, McGrath and Sylvest take over the skatepark at the Nelson and District Youth Centre where they teach how to safely stand, glide and, eventually, skate the ramps in a pair of roller skates.

The transition to roller skates can be awkward, even for people who are used to ice skating. The stance is different, and there are more points of balance and edges to get used to. McGrath said even her derby teammates will still unexpectedly fall in practice.

“It just happens if you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing.”

At a practice Feb. 17, McGrath shows a young girl how to safely go down a small ramp. The girl rolls down, goes up another ramp and falls as she attempts to turn around. But she flashes a thumbs up and returns for another try.

McGrath and Sylvest’s students only need to bring a helmet, and ideally some knee and elbow guards. The skates, which are in men’s sizes three to nine, are provided for free out of the Killjoys’ stash.

Just one pair won’t do either for McGrath.

Her collection includes vintage skates that look as though they rolled out of the 1980s, to skates specific for derby as well as her custom park skates she sheepishly admits to having cost more than $1,000.

“Skate gear, just like any other gear, you can geek out about it and get as technical and change up as much as you want,” she says.

But before her students start debating which wheels to use or how loose their trucks should be, they need to learn how to walk before they run. Or, in this case, stand before they roll.

When they do, McGrath says, they don’t want to stop.

“It just makes you feel like a kid. It’s just fun to roll around and get it once you get it. I have met anybody who was like, ‘Oh I didn’t like that.’”

Roller skating runs every Wednesday, 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Nelson and District Youth Centre. Anyone ages 12 to 21 interested in trying roller skating can register by calling the youth centre at 250-352-5656, or by emailing youthcentre@nelson.ca. The cost is $5. Helmets (and masks) are mandatory.

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

Sylvain Fabi, Canada’s chief negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty, joined a number of government and Indigenous government stakeholders for a virtual town hall on Feb. 24, 2021, to update the state of the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. Trevor Crawley photo/Zoom screenshot
Indigenous input key to Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Ecosystem function included in negotiations along with flood management and power generation priorities

Shayna Jones. Photo: Louis Bockner
Kaslo performer collects stories of Black rural experience

Shayna Jones will create a performance piece about Black people ‘tucked away in the countryside’

Motorists encountered a delay on Hwy. 3B in Trail Thursday morning. Environment Canada expects up to 20 cm of snow to fall on communities between the Paulson Summit and Kootenay Pass. Photo: Jim Bailey
Snow causes early morning traffic delays in Trail

Environment Canada is calling for up to 20 cm of snow to fall in the West Kootenay region Thursday

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
MY COVID STORY: From doctor to patient

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

The BC SPCA is offering many chances for school-aged kids to learn about animal welfare and other animal topics. Pictured here is Keith, a three-month-old kitten seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
From pets to wildlife, BC SPCA offers animal education programs geared to youth

BC SPCA offering virtual spring break camps, workshops and school presentations

Most Read