In a scant few weeks, since the end of October, a crew of 20 has transformed the Buckskill Tennis Club into the Buckskill Winter Club, which is to begin its 21st year of operation Saturday.
The winter club features a regulation-size, refrigerated National Hockey League outdoor ice rink that, thanks to a chiller and an Olympia ice resurfacing machine, is skatable throughout warm winters. Doug De Groot, who, with his wife, Kathryn, owns the club, said Saturday afternoon that the club has obviously filled a need. Young and old, with the help of professional instructors, have learned to skate, figure skate, play hockey, and even to curl, a sport that the club’s head tennis pro, Carlos La Riva, teaches in the evenings.
“We’ll have a full schedule Saturday,” said De Groot, “pond hockey and family skating from 7 to 8:30, the Hackers Hockey Club will play from 8:45 to 10:15. There will be junior hockey and free skating as well, and we’ll have pros available for lessons. The snack bar will be serving Belgian waffles and European hot chocolate, and coffee, of course, from Java Nation. . . . We’ll have teen night every Friday, an adult hockey league, skating shows. . . .”
Throughout the 16-week season, which is to end March 10, “the sun will be trying to melt the ice as we’re trying to make it. When the sun goes down, our gigantic chiller will be pushing glycol through the pipes at a temperature that’s quite a bit below zero, and the miracle of ice will occur. Our full-size Olympia ice resurfacing machine will be the key to conditioning the ice properly for high quality skating. So, when it comes to warm winters, we’ve got them covered.” The mammoth chiller, De Groot agreed, was “a sizable investment, though without it we’d be more like Canada, which we’re not.”
The various costs and fees pertaining to full membership, daily public skating, lessons, and skate and hockey packages are available online at buckskillwinterclub.com. “We also rent the rink out for birthday parties and field trips,” De Groot said, adding that there is still dasher-board space for businesses’ ads.
Buckskill’s clubhouse is a cozy one, “like an Alpine ski lodge,” said De Groot, with the snack bar and a large wood-burning fireplace. At its counter, which Maya Buckner oversees, there are skates for rent, and Buckskill hoodies, knit caps, gloves, et cetera, for sale.
On March 11, the annual transformation of the Buckskill Winter Club into the Buckskill Tennis Club will begin, adding four Har-Tru courts underlying the rink to six others, three of which are grass.