Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 07 September 2012 00:00
With the exception of one lockout season (2004-05), the Ice Girls have been part of the show at Islanders’ games since the 2001-02 season. In addition to presenting the Islanders flag at every game, Ice Girls keep the ice clean during games, and perform an additional routine when the team wins. They also play games with the fans in the stands during time outs and distribute T-shirts. The girls must be over 18 with strong skating skills, capable of skating backwards as well as doing lunges, spirals, t-stops and power crossovers.
Ice Girls coach Linda Beach says that she’s looking for the full package in a skater: someone with both good technical skating skills and a warm personality. “It’s really just finding that all-around personality who can skate that strong stuff, then deal with the community as far as events and interacting with the fans,” said Beach.
Beach said that the team’s duties in the upcoming season will largely be the same as previous years, with one significant difference: the league recently changed shoveling procedure, making the Ice Girls’ task of keeping the surface of the rink clean more challenging. The girls have to cover more ice with their shovels in the same period of time—90 seconds—meaning they have to be able to skate with the large snow shovels at greater speed. At the tryouts, several skaters struggled to keep up the pace while shoveling. While the Ice Girls make it all look easy, Beach says, obviously it’s all much harder in practice.
Most of these young women have other obligations outside of skating. Christi, who was an Ice Girl last year and made the team again this year, is currently busy with law school, but relishes the time she gets to spend with the Islanders.
“It was so much fun. You get to go to every single home game we have, you interact with all of our awesome fans. You go into the community, you get to help out…it’s just a lot of fun. You get to be involved in all the excitement,” said Christi. She went on to say that her absolute favorite task as an Ice Girl is riding the Zamboni machine while using a T-shirt gun to shoot free shirts to the fans in the stands.
Christi has only been skating for a few years, but most of the girls have been skating for their entire lives; some have even competed in national and international competitions. While Ice Girls’ duties don’t typically call for some of the more difficult aspects of figure skating, there were still plenty of artistic spins and jumps to be seen at tryouts as the skaters warmed up.
Niki, who started skating when she was three years old and competed professionally until the age of 17, was thrilled to make the team for the first time this year.
“The Islanders have been my favorite team since I can remember. I’ve been following them, and I love hockey too. So the combination of figure skating and hockey is just awesome to me,” said Niki with a big smile.
In addition to their work during games, the skaters represent the Islanders throughout the year as a part of the ICE (Islanders Community Events) Tour, a program designed to foster a love of hockey in young fans and promote the sport throughout the year. As an integral part of the tour, pairs of Ice Girls can be found signing autographs and helping out at hospitals, schools, festivals, summer camps, and other venues all over Long Island.
While some of the contenders left the rink disappointed that they hadn’t made the team, there’s always next year: skaters have to audition for a spot on the team every season, and tryouts can be tough even for veterans. For some, wearing the Islanders’ colors of blue and orange may become a reality somewhere down the road.
In the meantime, the current team seems to be having a great time. “If they would keep me on forever, I would come back for as long as they’ll have me,” said Christi.
“I believe everything happens for a reason, and I love figure skating. It’s a place where I can express myself, and I would love it if I could do it for the rest of my life,” said Niki.
The Islanders will begin the season on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, Oct. 12. The following night, Saturday, Oct. 13, the team will hold its home opener, facing off against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 00:00
As voters in the Massapequa Union Free School District approach the Tuesday, May 21, budget vote, the proposed spending plan retains popular educational programs while keeping the rise in spending to 1.49 percent.
Despite what district officials call unprecedented increases in state-mandated employer pension contributions, as well as rising health insurance costs, the overall budget is up just over $2.7 million.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
After Massapequa resident Sol Goldstein and several friends helped finish building a house for a family 20 years ago for Habitat for Humanity, they had a question: “What do we do now?” They were all retired, had enjoyed working together and accomplishing something for a family in need, and wanted to do more.
“I was looking for something [to do] hands-on,” said Joe Botkin, of Williston Park, a retired principal, who had worked with Goldstein in building the home.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
Vinny Zanfardino started his coaching career in 1997 when he stepped up to coach his daughter’s Little League team.
What started as a hobby turned into a full-blown obsession for Zanfardino, 48. Coaching became an outlet to do some good for children while staying close to the game he loves: baseball.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
On Saturday, May 18, the Town of Oyster Bay will conduct a ceremony to officially re-name its golf course in honor of Joseph Colby, a resident of Massapequa Park who served as the Town of Oyster Bay’s 56th supervisor. The Honorable Joseph Colby was appointed supervisor in 1977 and was elected to that office five times in the following ten years. He was then elected as a New York State Supreme Court Justice in 1988, a post he held through his retirement from public service in 1992. The unveiling will take place at the main entrance of the course off South Woods Road in Woodbury.
“When the sign for Honorable Joseph Colby Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course is unveiled, it will celebrate an outstanding career in public service,” Supervisor John Venditto said. “Joseph Colby has always had the needs of the public as his top priority and has been widely respected for his innovation and responsiveness. This golf course will now forever bear his name as a tribute to his outstanding legacy.”