Frye’s Roller Rink Experiences Boom in Skating Interest, Speed Team Heads to Nationals | Local News
CONCORD – These people you see spinning around Frye’s Roller Rink – they’re headed for national championships.
The Piedmont Speed Club is made up of members from Concord, Greensboro and Rock Hill, SC. This year, approximately 40 team members are competing at the 2022 Indoor Nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska, July 17-24. Members cover all age groups. The youngest competitor is only 3 years old and the oldest 64 years old.
Home base for all team members is Frye’s Roller Rink in Concord.
Sherry Carawan’s family have owned Frye’s since the first building was built on Poplar Tent Road in 1949. And Carawan said the club’s history with speed skating is nearly as long.
“There’s been competitive skating at Frye since the ’50s,” Carawan said. “The formation of Piedmont, with several rinks together, occurred about 10 years ago. We’ve had skaters that were on the world team and many national champions. We have done very well. We have great coaches and great kids and members.
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This success has been constant. Year after year, Piedmont has ranked among the top 10 in the country for inline speed skating. And in quad speed skating, she ranks No. 1 in the country.
Even the way new members join the team has been consistent. It’s about watching people go fast.
“What happens is a child gets interested, and then a parent starts to see what their child can do. Maybe the parent skated for fun when they were a kid, and now they want to participate. Then the whole family skates. It’s something a lot of people can do, especially quads. It’s for all ages. It’s a family-type sport,” she said. .
14-year-old Hayden Fitch’s debut in the sport sparked a regular family outing to the rink.
Keith Fitch, Hayden’s father, said the interest was immediate.
“He saw a kid going fast on inline skates. He asked one of the employees how he could learn to go so fast,” Fitch said. “He was 9, about to turn 10.”
The employee happened to be an assistant coach at the Piedmont Speed Club. Hayden watched a practice and he was hooked. Four years later, he has several national championships to his credit. His first year of skating, he won a boys’ relay skating competition at the national championships.
Fitch and his family live just a quarter mile from Frye’s house but never heard of the speed skating team until Hayden asked.
“I didn’t know they did all that,” Fitch said, “and I grew up going to Frye’s, myself.”
This year, Hayden is again competing in relay races and an individual category. Over the years, Fitch said, sports have helped shape Hayden’s work ethic.
“I’ve seen that make him want to improve. He knows what it takes to be a team member and work together. He’s seen what it takes to be a champion, that it takes working. It gave him a lot of confidence,” Fitch said.
And yes, there is a lot of work.
Carawan said team members meet at Frye’s house at least three times a week for practices, before heading to their rinks for two additional practices. Weather permitting, skaters also train outdoors, for the start of outdoor competitions in September.
Although Carawan’s family owns the rink, they are also no strangers to competitive skating. She and her siblings competed nationally in speed and figure skating as children.
Once out of college, Carawan began teaching a beginner’s skate class – the same skate class she teaches at Frye’s today. She is a certified trainer with the Society of Roller Skating Teachers of America.
Her class is often a stepping stone for people who eventually end up in the beginner speed skating class and later join the team.
“Teaching beginners, I will often see a child who just wants to open up wide,” she said. “And I’ll say, ‘If you like to go really fast, we have a speed team. “”
But she doesn’t just teach children. She also teaches a course for adults.
“The oldest in my beginner class is 80. And he’s fantastic,” she said.
But recently, Carawan has seen a boom in people interested in skating.
“Random skating is hugely popular right now,” she said.
The rink hosts an adult skating night, where it is a popular activity.
Shuffle skating, a sort of hybrid of dance skating, has become a big social media trend, especially on TikTok. The online trend took off just as venues began to close due to COVID. And the interest hasn’t stopped since.
Carawan said the family’s roller rinks have seen a similar trend.
“All of the family’s rinks were closed for eight months because of COVID. It seemed like people wanted to do something,” she said. “When we first announced we were going to reopen, people were queuing at the doors. It’s just exploded since we reopened.”
And these TikTok videos appear in his beginner courses.
“A lot of adults in the beginner class will show me something on TikTok and say, ‘I want to do this.’ But most of the time, I have to say, “Well, let’s learn to skate first. Then we’ll get you there.”
The increased interest in skating has led to an increase in the number of people who want to compete.
“The team definitely benefited from it,” she said.
Piedmont Speed Club is competing July 17-24 in the 2022 Indoor National Championships hosted by USA Roller Sports.
For those interested in the team, visit their website at http://www.fryes4fun.com/Fryes/SpeedTeam.htm.
For those interested in learning to skate, visit http://www.fryes4fun.com/Fryes/index.htm.