Winterfest Hockey School in the forecast


By Joseph Pratt



Winterfest is just around the corner, with carriage rides, Santa’s workshop, ice skating, Christmas light displays and more. A big addition that made its way into programming in recent years is the ice hockey school that will be launched November 21 for the Friends of Portsmouth.

“The instructors are going to be teaching students the basics of hockey,” Brian Smith, Executive Director of Friends of Portsmouth said. “They’ll be going over how to stand, how to move, how to hold the stick and how to hit the puck.”

Smith said that the school will also hold scrimmages, once the students get the basics under control.

“It is nothing real hardcore, but the kids just enjoy it,” Smith explained. “We have kids getting ready to go to basketball practice, but coming out to play hockey for an hour, and, sometimes, it feels like some of the parents are even more thrilled to have this opportunity for their kids. I mean, who would have thought kids could participate in hockey here, because there is nothing within two hours.”

This is a second year for the school, with last year going so successfully. The organization says they can get 15 kids on the ice at one time for class, due to keeping class sizes intimate and available resources.

The classes are managed by Rhonda Hamilton, a local with Canadian roots prior to moving here to play softball for Shawnee State University and finding herself home in Portsmouth. Hamilton is also the educator at Candyland Children’s Museum.

“I grew up in Canada and I’m used to enjoying and getting out in the cold weather and finding neat things to do in those long winter months.” Hamilton said. “I think the hockey class is a great way to get out and be active and find things to do outside of a gymnasium. It is also really nice, because, while it is organized, it is still very chill, since it isn’t a long season. They can come out once and try it or try all six sessions, but it is not some organized sport that can be daunting. I am very happy to be part of that. The fact kids get the opportunity to get out and try something new is exciting.”

Hamilton explained that the progress on the rink is oftentimes impressive.

“I can’t believe how much the students improve in such a short period of time. I also find that the kids who struggle during free skate sometimes improve with something in their hands,” Hamilton said. “They just become better skaters. I’ve also had feedback from parents, who tell me their kids get more interest in watching hockey on TV at home, which I think is a cute thing to happen. It is an opportunity to expand our area’s youth interest and something we wouldn’t have if not for Winterfest.”

The classes are broken down into age ranges.

Monday is for ages 4-7, Tuesday is ages 6-9, and Wednesday is ages 8-12

Classes are $25 each or $150 for the entire run.

“I love being able to offer hockey at Winterfest. I mean, seriously,” Smith said. “Think about how many kids would never get the opportunity to even ice skate, but then those that are taking off to Columbus or somewhere to spend $30 or $40 to skate for a half hour or 40 minutes. Here, they go all day for $5.”

By Joseph Pratt

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved