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Campers enjoy skating

July 15, 2011 : Allison Cundiff/Liberty University News Service

Sean Russell, a beginner, was excited as he put on his skates for the first time at Liberty University’s LaHaye Ice Center this week, his confidence bolstered because he had never had to use a barrel to hold himself up.

“I think because of how hot it’s been, the ice center is really good for us,” said Russell, 14. “We get to come in and cool off and have fun. It’s something we don’t really get a chance to do all that often when we’re at home.”

Russell, from Springfield, Va. near Richmond, was one of 1,400 students attending a youth camp on Liberty’s campus, organized by the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.

Most campers had only been ice-skating once or twice. They spent their afternoon testing their wings, taking a few playful spills and helping their fallen buddies back to their feet.

The campers used Liberty’s residence halls and were afforded use of university facilities like the LaHaye Recreation and Fitness Center’s swimming pool and basketball courts, the Thomas Indoor Soccer Center and the Liberty Mountain SnowFlex Centre (a one-of-a-kind ski and snowboard facility unique to North America, which uses synthetic material designed to simulate snow).

The ice center was the beat-the-heat destination for campers.

“With the temperatures rising, we’re seeing a lot of people come indoors because quite frankly it’s too hot to do anything outside, and it’s too humid,” said the ice center’s director Kirk Handy.

Handy said this summer has been one of the ice center’s busiest. Many local residents and youth camps and day schools throughout Virginia are visiting for the first time.

“People that we never see during winter time or during the school year have come out to skate. And most of those first-time people we see come back the next day and the next day,” said the ice center’s assistant director Tatiana Gomez.

LaHaye upgrades planned

The ice center will be closed for renovations from Thursday, July 28 -- Sunday, August 7. It will re-open on Monday, August 8.

Many improvements are planned before the school year starts: the ice will be removed, rebuilt, re-painted and resurfaced; a new Liberty Flames logo and two 40 Year Anniversary banners will be painted onto the ice; and the center will be adding two new ice resurfacing machines, new baseboards and new kick plates around the rink.

For more information, contact the LaHaye Ice Center at (434) 592-3953 or lahayeicecenter@liberty.edu.