Club celebrates skating history

A history board has been gifted to The Nelson Roller Sports club by the Nelson City Council to celebrate its 60th birthday.

Designed by Adi Tait, it tracks the history of the rink from when it was built by Dave Davies in the 1950s until now.

Club president Alethea Stove said it was "pretty cool" to be part of Saturday's celebrations and the rink.

"I just love the range of sports and people that come skate for fun or as elite athletes," she said.

While the club member-owned rink is open to the public at certain times, its primary function is to provide a space for skating sports, including artistic and speed skating, inline hockey, and roller derby.

Stove has been involved with the club for 14 years and said she particularly enjoyed seeing young kids come through the club who eventually went on to represent New Zealand.

The rink is one of the best rollerskating training facilities in the country and has produced a number of top class New Zealand athletes - including Stove's two sons who do inline skating.

Her younger son, Nelson College student Devon Stove, 14, last week heard he had made the New Zealand team to play in a three game series against Australia in Hamilton in July this year.

His brother, Josh Devon is in the under-17 New Zealand team.

On Saturday, it was a family affair for Keiko Bamba, 57, and her two daughters, Hayley Nam, 14, and Mitsuko Nam, 17, who are all figure skaters.

Bamba decided to take up the sport five years ago as she was at the rink so often supporting her daughters.

She called it a marvellous sport and said she wanted to continue it while she still could as it was "precious" to keep learning, trying new things, and pushing herself as she got older.

Last year the whole family represented New Zealand at the Oceania competition in Palmerston North.

Club patrons Ra and Colleen Hippolite have a long history with the centre as their children had been through it.

Daughter Monique Hippolite taking out a bronze medal at the Junior World Rollerskating Championships in 1994, which saw her awarded Junior Sports Woman of the Year in the Maori Sports Awards.

The club and rink's history dates backs to 1953, but there was a period when the club and facility were separated.

After Davies built the rink, the club broke away from it in the 1950s as Davies set to run it as a for profit business.

When Davies went to close the rink in 1957 because it was not financially viable it was saved by skating coach Keith Martin who bought it for £900 on behalf of the club.

It was no longer run as a purely profit-making business.

The rink was roofed in 1983 and walls put up in 1986. It is self-funded by public sessions, which support the club's activities.

As the club has evolved so have the skates - from the over the shoes tie-up skates to the fully enclosed buckle skates used today.

"The facility is in use for training every weekday from 3pm to 10pm and in the weekends," said Stove.

Stove said they were slowly "trying to jazz" up the facility, but with rising costs, especially a hefty 47 per cent increase in their insurance after the Canterbury quakes, the facility was being upgraded in stages

It was completely run by volunteers. The majority of the coaches are also volunteers, which follows the tradition set by Martin who coached members and often took material from overseas literature, back in the day, so he could learn more about the sport.

Stove said there was a strong skating community which made the facility and club what it was today.

Fairfax Media