Aside from this weekend’s snowstorm, there hasn’t been much cold weather this winter. And while that may make it more comfortable for students as they walk to and from classes, it also means they haven’t been able to take advantage of the newly constructed ice skating rink located on the campus tennis courts.
According to senior Bible and theology major and student body president Bob Book, the ice skating rink provides students with something to do on campus during a time of year when there aren’t many options.
“There isn’t too much going on on campus in the wintertime or in the community,” Book said. “Aside from sledding down the hill, I think it gives students a really good opportunity to have something that they can do outdoors, and to get a little bit of exercise and have fun and feel like they have somewhere they can go.”
Book said the idea for purchasing an ice skating rink came from Instructor of Youth Ministry Dr. Bill Quigley, who approached Book in August. Quigley had been attempting to persuade student senate to push for an ice skating rink for years. This year, the idea became a reality.
Book said members of student senate worked in conjunction with the physical plant to ensure an ice skating rink was a feasible option.
Although the weather hasn’t been very cooperative so far this winter, Book said he hoped the rink would become a feature at Malone for years to come.
“If it wasn’t something that we saw as a long-term investment, I don’t know if it would have even been done,” he said.
The construction of the ice skating rink fell to director of physical plant Jim Palone and his staff. Palone said the tennis courts were chosen as the location for the rink due to their solid surface and slope for drainage.
In addition to constructing the rink, physical plant staff members are also responsible for clearing any snow off the rink’s surface and ensuring the rink remains level after it is used. For this, Palone said staff will use a tool he called “a poor man’s Zamboni” (in reference to the popular ice hockey machine). The tool is basically a broom which sprays water on the surface to fill in any crevices created by ice skates.
However, all that maintenance requires that the rink actually remains frozen for an extended period of time—something that unseasonably warm temperatures have for the most part prevented from happening.
“If we don’t get four inches of ice on this thing, it’s not going to be usable,” Palone said. “We need to get a good, hard freeze.”
Palone said the ice skating rink is one of many recreational facilities on campus the physical plant staff are responsible for maintaining. He commended service and grounds supervisor Russ Thorn and the rest of the physical plant staff for the work they’ve done to maintain the rink so far.
Palone said he was uncertain whether the rink could be counted on for a year-to-year basis.
“I’d like to see it work,” he said. “I’d like to see us offer something kind of unique to Malone that students would like to do and they would enjoy. I just don’t know if this is it. But we’re going to give it the good ‘Malone try’ and see what happens.”
Vice President for Student Development Dr. Chris Abrams said he was hopeful the skating rink would become a yearly fixture on campus. He also suggested that the rink could be expanded to a larger size in the future.
“I’m hoping not only is it something we do year after year, but that we find ways to improve it,” Abrams said. “It’s a bit of a trial in some ways right now.”
[pullquote][…] We’re going to give it the good ‘Malone try’ and see what happens,” Palone said.[/pullquote]
According to Abrams, the ice skating rink cost the university less than $6,000.
“Even if it’s not this winter, in the future, the benefit will outweigh the cost,” he said.
Abrams said he has heard students suggest building an ice skating rink in previous years. Although the rink hasn’t gotten much use this winter due to the weather, Abrams said the rink is well worth the effort.
“We need to give things a try for students,” he said.