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Keeping Kids In-Line Rink Owners Hope Roller Hockey League Will Be Good For Kids And For Skating Business

Colleen and Ives Bernstein want to get roller hockey out of the parking lots and under their roof.

The Bernsteins are forming a competitive league at Roller Valley Skate Center. Activity began June 21 with team selection.

The league will be good for business, the Bernsteins say, while providing participants already playing outdoors an opportunity to fine-tune their skills in a more structured setting.

“Kids are playing everywhere in the Valley,” Ives Bernstein said. “If I can get it organized, hopefully our attraction will be the games we offer and a fun environment for kids to come to.”

There are divisions for ages 11 and under, 12-14, 15-17 and 18 and older. The league will run from July 5-Aug. 25 at a cost of $110 per player.

If demand warrants, competition will continue year around.

Unlike the ball hockey teams that Roller Valley promoted with some success a few years ago, roller hockey capitalizes on the popularity of in-line skates instead of conventional skates.

Following a boom in the early 1980s, interest in roller skating flattened.

In-line skates have brought about a resurgence. They are more suited for outside use, generate more speed and are easier to learn than conventional skates.

“That’s what made in-lines so popular,” Ives Bernstein said. “They can punch rocks, so (they) are smoother outside. There is no tilting forward or backward. Roller skates are primarily for indoor use and you need more coordination and balance.”

Rather than fight the trend in their business, the Bernsteins have gone along with it, adding in-line skates to their rental inventory as well as forming the roller hockey league.

“We were one of the first to bring in-lines indoors four years ago,” Colleen Bernstein said. “They’ve been hot.”

She has 30 pairs to rent and can’t keep them in stock, so she is ordering more. Individuals can use their own in-line skates, but only if they meet rink standards (no black brakes or protruding metal nuts or bolts).

Professional roller hockey leagues have formed in California and Oregon. The sport has gained television exposure on ESPN.

“It is so much like ice hockey,” said Ives Bernstein, a former international ball hockey player and coach in Switzerland.

Ball hockey is played with a hard rubber ball, a short cane-like stick and conventional roller skates. Roller hockey is played with a puck and hockey stick.

“Believe me my heart is with ball hockey, but this is a North American game,” Ives Bernstein said.

Bernstein and his wife grew up with roller skating; he in his native Olympia, she in Tacoma.

Ives said his mother and father were married on skates.

Bernstein played ice hockey as a teenager until discovering ball hockey while vacationing in California. He competed in the sport for 10 years, playing in the 1987 Pan American Games and professionally for two years in Switzerland before becoming a coach.

“Ball hockey is a world game,” he said. “Europe and South America are where all the pros are.”

Roller skating is Colleen’s family business. Her parents own two centers, one in Tacoma, where two brothers work, and the 20-year-old Roller Valley which was operated by her brother, Jerry Hughes, until two years ago.

Both agree that conventional roller-rink skates will not be replaced. Except for a few down years they have remained popular.

“The history is just too strong,” Colleen said.

But by embracing in-line skating, creating a roller hockey league with an eye toward inter-center competition and maybe even forming national-caliber teams if interest warrants.

Rain doesn’t stop golfers

A cold, rainy day didn’t deter Painted Hills Ladies Club golfers last week.

Pat Casey and Sue Greany thrived, shooting 47s in A flight. Maureen Williams had a 49 in B. Merilyn Lloyd shot 52 in C, including a chip-in on the ninth hole, and Ellen Spalding had 61 in D.

Net winners included Jackie Booth and Karen Hunt with 35s in A, Pat Schlosstein with 31 in B, Caryl Marcus with 33 in C and Linda Yurkiw with 32 in D.

Tanna Wilson also had a chip-in to birdie the third hole.

Captain’s Cup tie

There was a tie for the most recent leg of the Liberty Lake Ladies 18-Hole Club Captain’s Cup.

Jackie Shea and Sylvia Riggin each had net 69s during the contest.

Fewest putts were also counted and Diane Joss won A flight with 32. Five golfers, Dorothy Womach, Vivienne Symbol, B.J. Holt, Ellen Boudewyns, and Freda Beckman tied at 31 in B flight.

Winner of C flight was Phyl Kahle at 31 and of D flight was Ethyl Rankin with 35.

Liebelt wins President’s Cup

Overall winner of the Valley View Ladies Golf Club President’s Cup was decided with Marty Liebelt the overall champion at 61.

A flight winners were Sue Matsui and Anne Meyers with 67, B flight was won by Edith Rains at 62 and C flight by Nola Russell with 77.

During weekly play, Mary Ann Barham shot low gross 47. Liebelt had low net for A flight with 30, Rains had low net for B flight with 28. Russell and Caroline Michielli tied in D flight with 38.

County offers softball clinic

The Spokane County Parks and Recreation Department will offer a softball clinic for youth players Monday through Thursday at Mountain View Middle School.

The clinic, which will include hitting, fielding and pitching sessions, will be conducted by Tammy Bradstreet, a University High School graduate and most valuable player in the Northwest community colleges association league.

For information and registration call 456-4730 or Bradstreet at 926-4482.

All-star baseball tryouts

Spokane Valley Baseball League Pony all-star tryouts will be Tuesday at the East Valley Middle School complex.

Players interested in trying out for the all-star teams are asked to be at the complex with their baseball gear by 4:30 p.m.

Two teams will be selected, one from the American Division and one from the National.

The teams will play two city allstar teams in a district tournament beginning Thursday July 6 and continuing through that weekend.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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