Introduction to our Learn to Skate/Learn to Play Hockey Program
Our Learn to Skate/Learn to Play Hockey is managed by Ice Director, Mike Fountain. Mike is a retired professional hockey player who played in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Ottawa Senators. He's represented his country numerous times and, locally, played with the Grand Rapids Griffins for two seasons. As well as working as the Ice Director here at the Walker Ice and Fitness Center, he is also Hockey Director for the HAWK Youth Hockey Association.
Here's Mike leading a Learn to Play Hockey session:
Learn to Skate, Learn to Play Hockey and Snow Plow Frequently Asked Questions
What are the differences between Learn to Skate, Learn to Play Hockey and Snow Plow?
Learn to Skate: provides a fun way for boys and girls of all ages to learn the fundamentals of ice skating. Skaters are divided among our instructors based on experience, so the program is great for beginners and more advanced skaters.
Learn to Play Hockey: is a great way for boys and girls of all ages to start and develop their hockey playing skills. It’s really important for Learn to Play Hockey that participants have basic skating skills.
Snow Plow: is for boys and girls 5 years and younger who’ve never skated before. It teaches kids the basics of skating in a fun and safe environment.
What if I sign my kid up for the wrong program?
That’s no problem! Our instructors often make adjustments once we see children on the ice. For example, if you sign your daughter up for Learn to Skate and she’s ready and willing to go for Learn to Play Hockey, we can just switch her into the other program. If you’re ever in doubt, our Ice Director is always happy to assess your kid’s skill level.
My child is 5 and I don’t know whether to put her in Snow Plow or Learn to Skate, what should I do?
If your child has never skated at all, we recommend signing up for Snow Plow and if, once on the ice, she’s confident and comfortable, we can switch her into Learn to Skate (an additional charge would apply). You can always talk to a member of staff here at Walker Ice and Fitness if you need more help.
My son will be going into one of the programs and I’m worried about him being on the ice without me. Can I go out with him?
We do not allow parents/guardians out on the ice with the kids. We want to build up confidence for children on the ice and we’ve found that it’s best if they work with our instructors. Even if you’ve a lot of skating experience, we still need to have our very experienced staff lead the sessions and it gets confusing for kids when their parents are on the ice too. Part of learning to skate is learning to fall over and younger kids actually do better with this when Mom and Dad aren’t on the ice.
Is there any way I can help out or get involved?
We always appreciate volunteers who have a strong background in figure skating or hockey. Please reach out to our Ice Director at (616) 735-6286 for more information.
What should my child wear for Snow Plow or Learn to Skate?
- Ice Skates (we have these available for rental – we offer a great 7 week pass for $10, be sure to ask at the front desk for details)
- Gloves or Mittens
- Helmets are required for Snow Plow and strongly recommended for Learn to Skate (a bike helmet is fine)
- Snow Pants or warm layers that allow for freedom of movement
What should my child wear for Learn to Play?
For Learn to Play, full hockey equipment is required. We sell equipment for all ages in our Pro-Shop! If you need help, please feel free to reach out to our Ice Director at (616) 735-6286.
What is the cost for these programs?
Learn to Skate and Learn to Play is $99 for each 7 week session, but if you register 7 days before the session starts, there’s a 15% discount ($85)
Snow Plow is $60 (there’s no early registration discount for Snow Plow)
When do these programs run?
Classes are offered year round. Our current schedule is:
- Session 3: Jan 13-March 3 (no class Feb 3)
- Session 4: March 10- April 21
- Session 5: May 30- July 18, (no class July 4)
Who do I contact if I need more information?
Please feel free to contact Walker Ice and Fitness Center at (616) 735-6286