“In skating over thin ice our safety is our speed,” wrote 19th-century American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. These wondrous words, spoken by one of my literary idols, capture so clearly the security I feel when gliding across the ice. Since the age of three, I have felt freest when skating, which empowers me to find balance in all areas of my life. 

I had access to ice as a child, and my family supported my passion, but not everyone is so fortunate. Skating is a costly sport, and the sacrifices that it requires at the competitive level are no small price to pay.   

Rink doors are now opening, however, to a more diverse range of populations.  Organizations like The Ice Theatre of New York (Ice Dance – Ice Theatre of New York) have spread the joy of skating through their various multicultural outreach programs throughout the city. Ice skating is, indeed, becoming more inclusive.   

The timing is right for the opening of Sacred Heart University’s Martire Family Arena in Fairfield.N ot only has figure skating become more diverse, but recreational ice skating is growing as well.  The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing have played a role, of course, but arguably so has the desire for movement in a post-pandemic era. 

The Martire Family Arena

According to a Market Research Report on “Ice Rinks Industry in the US,” demand for the sport in terms of participation and the industry itself has increased steadily in the period from 2017-2022; more growth is projected over the next five years.  

I feel proud to teach at an institution of higher education that is at the cutting edge of these promising trends.   

My vision is for figure skating, which is both art and sport, to be a vibrant addendum to all colleges, universities, and their surrounding communities. At Sacred Heart, the activity that I have cherished for 40 years can fill out the full scope of skating for our students, staff, faculty, administrators, and surrounding Connecticut communities.   

As ice skating becomes more accessible to diverse populations, let us embrace the Martire Family Arena as a safe and sacred space for all.

The Sacred Heart University women’s hockey team celebrates a 2-1 overtime victory over Harvard in its first game played at the new Martire Family Arena.– Photo by Tomas Koeck

Cara Erdheim Kilgallen is an Associate Professor of English at Sacred Heart.  She is also the 2006 Adult Gold Ladies National Figure Skating Champion. 

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