When the Ventura County, California ice rink that Wendi Cool worked at for 17 years was torn down in 2016, 75 percent of her students stopped skating rather than endure the drive to the next closest rink.
So, she and others started a nonprofit with the goal of bringing back their ice. The nonprofit's grassroots fundraisers were successful in generating startup costs, and now, they are ready to transition into a Capital Campaign for a new facility.
HTG spoke with Wendy, President of VC Ice Sports and an ice skating coach, about the work that this new project entails, life lessons, learning TikTok, and more.
Q&A with Wendi Cool
HTG: Why is it important for your group to bring back your ice?
Wendi Cool (WC): Ice skating is such an incredible community asset. It’s unique and adds to the community’s diversity—soccer, baseball, ice skating—the more recreation options that are available, the better it is for any community.
Personally, ice skating is a place where you can learn a lot of life lessons beyond skating. Skating is hard to learn. So, you learn when things are difficult, you don’t give up, and you keep going. These are life lessons that are applicable well beyond your skating career and throughout your whole life.
HTG: What is your vision for the project?
WC: We would like to build a state-of-the-art, twin-surface ice skating facility, with both sheets being NHL-sized. We plan to use green construction and our goal is to have solar panels.
We’ve also been talking about a policy of inclusion for all ages, ethnicities and genders. We would love to build an outreach for the sled hockey team we used to have. We would also like to introduce a wheelchair program to our community.
Basically, it all comes back to our vision being based on the foundation of creating a superior ice surface and a well-managed, welcoming rink.
Overcoming Project Challenges
HTG: How has the process been to get it started? What challenges have existed in a Covid world?
WC: There certainly have been a lot of challenges. Basically, this group we formed started from zero. Thinking ahead, to go through the process raising enough money to build this beautiful facility we envision, it is very challenging.
Also, as part of this process, we created a presence on social media. You can find us at @VCIceSports on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and I’m especially proud that we have a TikTok account. Talk about how when I said earlier that skating was hard and to just keep at it—I didn’t know anything about TikTok! It was intimidating. But, I learned about it and now we have a TikTok account.
Partnering with HTG
HTG: How has HTG been helpful in moving the project forward?
WC: Tom Moorse of HTG has been extremely helpful and encouraging. One thing that is great about him is that he is always ready to share his knowledge. He’s been happy to answer every question I ask.
He’s also designed a couple of preliminary renderings for us. We’re hoping soon to be able to have him create plans so we can actually submit them to the city.
HTG: What is the timeline for building?
WG: Our inspiration is Reno Ice, which is a rink that just opened in Nevada. It took them five years to raise the money to build a facility. They have one sheet of ice and plan to build a second sheet, so we’re kind of modeling after that. That five-year goal is what we’re hoping for.