Having some free time in my schedule and no Halloween plans, I decided to head out to Morgantown for a public skate just to check out things in person.
Hey, it was also a good excuse to get some food at Tim Horton’s.
Much of what I brought up in my previous post is still valid.
Maybe a part of my post felt a bit too harsh about pick-up and even free skate for figure skaters because when I finally got a look at the schedule, I see there’s no room for pick-up at a decent time.
Before I get to the issues, I like the feel of the rink. It truly feels like an old barn with its wood support beams and small lobby. The ice quality is pretty good for an old facility, too.
But damn, trying to figure out when things happen is a challenge until it hits me in the face.
After getting my workout, I finally saw what you see above: a schedule.
I actually laughed out loud because I had a feeling it would come to this. This is the only rink where I’ve seen weeks of schedules printed out on paper and posted on a bulletin board.
A rink in Fishers, Ind., that I would play at would print out the day’s schedule with locker room assignments, but this is quite something.
Morgantown uses a print-out of the reservation system calendar sheet. And that is the only place you can find out what’s happening at the rink.
And so, this reinforces what I previously wrote.
How can you expect people from out of town, or even in Morgantown with their busy schedule, try to find out when there could be a spare extra session or change in schedule? As the closest rink to Frostburg and Oakland, and for many other outlying areas westward, it’s not the most welcoming strategy.
When I called the rink for a schedule today, what sounded like a 14-year-old answered the phone. The kid just had no clue, let alone no customer service skills. The whispering to the other teen in the background to “shut the fuck up I’m on the phone” didn’t bother me. I play hockey (but dear lord, what if this was someone’s mother calling).
It was that he just had no clue and wasn’t trained what to do to answer the most simple questions about scheduling. I asked them if there were any drop-in or pick-up or stick and shoot hockey sessions scheduled and he just didn’t understand. He told me two adult games were scheduled tonight though, for what it was worth (nothing).
The excuses about being understaffed and not having enough time to post a schedule online were always laughable. I at least verified that much seeing the adult manager on duty finding enough downtown to just stand around at the front counter or sit in his chair relaxing. This wasn’t just a 15-minute break, this was every time I came off the ice.
One of those lulls in the week—and there are a lot of them—can be spent for 10 minutes maximum, updating schedules if needed. And communicating in emergency cancellations.
During slow public skates, and especially during afternoon sessions, there’s not a lot of action going on that will take you away from the desk. Use these moments to get the rink out there to bring people in during your public sessions.
It’s evident the arena is making money because how late the ice slots go during the week. I can’t imagine having a 11 p.m. practice for D-III hockey. I’ve heard and seen worse in Florida, though, for the University of Florida ACHA team.
Hell, even figure skaters were relegated to a 10 p.m. or later slot in a few instances for November. There may be opportunities for an early morning—6 a.m. or 7 a.m.— pick-up, that works well in some larger cities. I wouldn’t be able to attend those, but it might be worth exploring.
The best outcome, really, would be a new two-sheet ice rink to be built in Morgantown, operated by another entity and different staff. The rink is only seasonal and is jam-packed. I don’t see how there’s enough ice for all age groups and all user groups — especially enough opportunities for beginners.
Until then, I’ll continue to pursue this issue, writing a letter to the board to show what changes are needed.