Austin Pavao, Kai Abdool, Frank Feng, David Hinton, Ryan Parker, Adam DeVellis, Ivan Worona, and James Nelson — eight boys who live in different neighbourhoods and go to different schools.
They might never have met except for one thing they all have in common — a need for speed. Now they have become fast friends learning the fast sport of short track speed skating at the Oakville Speed Skating Club.
Three times a week, the boys — aged 8 to 12 — practice on an Olympic-sized rink lined with thick mats to protect them in case of a fall. In between drills and races you’ll find them at the centre of the ice joking around, talking and occasionally dancing Gangnam Style, just like other boys their age. The only difference is they’re wearing Kevlar-lined skin suits and skates with razor sharp blades while they do it.
The group has been skating together for three years, but newcomers are welcomed with open arms. Earlier this year Jaden Lo made the crossover from hockey to speed skating. “I was nervous at first but within the first month of joining the club, Adam invited a group of us to his house for a pizza party,” said Lo. “It’s different than hockey because we have time to talk in between races and drills. Everyone is very supportive.”
From the first time skaters set foot on the ice at the Oakville club, they are taught to focus on their own times and strive for a new personal best in each race instead of focusing on other skaters — but this doesn’t stop them from being competitive. The minute the boys toe the line, the smiles are gone. Each fights for the lead and it’s a race to the finish. But the moment their feet stop moving, the bond between them is evident, the grins are back and high fives and fist bumps are exchanged.
Short-track speed skating may be known as an individual sport but at the Oakville Speed Skating Club skaters get the best of both worlds — individual accomplishments with a team environment.
These eight boys are well on their way to becoming excellent competitive skaters — but equally as important — they don’t let cutting-edge competition slice into their friendships.
The Oakville Speed Skating Club’s youngest short track speed skaters are set to compete on home ice during the Provincial Championships March 2 – 3, 2013 at River Oaks Community Centre. Over 150 skaters from across Ontario will vie for gold at this two-day inaugural event. The weekend will be a celebration of Ontario’s best young speed skaters, ages 6 to 11.
Photo credit: Brenda Sweeney
Sharon DeVellis is a mother of two active boys, a wife to a very patient husband, and freelance writer. At the age of 41, she decided to try short track speed skating even though she had only skated three times as an adult–it ultimately changed her life. Follow her on twitter @SharonDV.
Tags: speed skating