Ice Skating & Ice Hockey

Parent Q&A

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  • Ice Hockey age 15

    (3 replies)

    Hi, I have a french friend visiting me for a month with a fifteen year old boy who's been playing ice hockey since a child. Any recommendations for places he can play in August? 

    I think the Oakland Ice Center has drop-in hockey year round. 

    Oakland Ice has a robust hockey program, contact hockey director Derek Donald, 510-268-9000 x108.

    There are pick up hockey games or stick time hours at the Oakland Sharks Ice. The should be posted on the website. 

  • Getting into figure skating

    (6 replies)

    I wonder if there are any figure skating parents on here? If so, I would love to hear your advice and experience. My daughter has been taking the Learn to Skate lessons at the Oakland Ice Center for about a year now. She really loves skating and lately has been asking about getting more involved--private lessons, possibly show and competitions, etc. I want to hear from parents who have "been there, done that." First, I've asked around a bit and I understand that this can be a pretty expensive undertaking. But beyond that, I haven't gotten a lot of answers about the larger culture. Just how intense is figure skating? It has a reputation for being very competitive. I keep thinking "Dance Moms" but on ice--is it really that bad? What about issues like body image--I have heard about eating disorders, although maybe the rumors are overblown? If she decides to pursue figure skating, just what would we be getting ourselves into? Please help, as I feel like I'm going into this completely blindly. 

    No sure how old is your daughter, but my daughter who is 8, also skates at OIC and loves it.  She has taken private lessons with different instructors.  We have also talked to other parents who have kids in the competitions.  It is all depend on the instructor that you've chosen.  The competition can be overwhelming, but it's mostly from the instructor and the parents.  The instructors we've been working with are suggesting "new" skater to start competing in the lower level to build self confidence and get comfortable in such environment.  Until the skater gets to certain stage, instructor will then suggest to compete in skater's current level or higher.  I hope this helps.  Good luck!

    My daughter started taking skating classes when she was 4, at the sadly defunct Berkeley Iceland.  My daughter was not exceptionally athletic, but she loved it, so we kept it up through her second year of high school, when a series of unfortunate medical mishaps derailed her enjoyment.  She joined a synchronized skating team, which was really fun and less cut-throat than the private figure skating seemed to be.  Intense?  I think it depends on your expectation.  We found the synchro team to be manageable, more cooperative and more accepting of different body types.  I don't know how old your daughter is, but I think you could find a coach to work with her for a few months without breaking the bank, and with a low level of commitment. The local rinks all offer holiday shows, and if your daughter worked with a coach for a few months, she could be in the next show, which might give you a better sense of the community and commitment.  BTW, my daughter (and I) greatly preferred the SF Ice Center- much more pleasant for mom to hang out, and a friendlier, warmer environment.  From our North Berkeley home, it didn't take much longer to get there either.  If you haven't been there, you should check it out.  

    My granddaughter has been skating there for the past 11 years. It has been a very positive experience, and in fact it is how she identifies herself. All sports come with some expense, which increases as they become more proficient. It is worth it though, for all they get back; self- confidence, physical fitness, independence, determination, time-management, etc.

    i would be happy to address any other issues or questions you may have, directly.

    Diana Simon

    simonsaysd1 [at]

    I skated for 10 years  and my daughter was into figure skating for a while.  It's a beautiful sport and can get  very expensive.  Between coaches, ice time and outfits It is very expensive.    Remember Tanya Harding?  She would skip  meals to pay for ice time and sewed her own outfits.  The hours for practice get crazy too.  I remember having ice time at 5:00 am or after midnight.  Figure skating is very competitive especially for girls/women. Figure skating is one of the sports which is dominated by women (not men) and image is everything.  So yes, body image is important as is social class.  Just look at Tanya and Nancy Kerrigan.  Bbut the worst is the racism.  RadioLab just a few months ago aired a show on racism in women's figure skating.  Take a look at Surya Bonaly, a black figure skater from France.  You can listen to the story on RadioLab.  If you have not seen Surya Bonaly skate take a look on YouTube.  What this women could do on ice at the age of 12 (backflips) is incredible.  She's also the creator of the Bonaly, a back flip while doing the splits followed by a one legged  landing.  It's so sad this amazing penalized for being black and not judged on her ability.  Scores in figure skating are subjective as you will see watching Surya skate

    If your daughter loves the sport support her.  Who knows maybe one day she will be skating in the Olympics.  Or maybe she will be like my daughter and one day decide to switch to a different sport.  I will say I very much enjoyed skating.  As an adult I know realize the amount of time, money and the crazy skating hours they had to put up with. 
    Hope this helps.  

    In my experience the best thing about skating is having friends and an interest outside of school. Make sure that skating stays fun by having her skate for fun at public skate in addition to lessons and encourage friendship with her skater friends away from the rink. You can start off with one half-hour private lesson per week. Competitions pretty much won't start up again until next spring and include lower levels. Choose the coach carefully because there seems to be drama involved in switching coaches. Whether your daughter becomes a high level skater or not, it can be a healthy hobby for life.

    My young teen daughter loves OIC and it's really helped her confidence. She's so into it after a year that she now thinks she can become a pro, so she may have a bit of a shock in store, but so far it's been great. I figure better that she be too into something that not at all. There's no downside to enthusiasm combined with exercise and increased social skills!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

Ice hockey summer camp for 11-year-old?

May 2011

My 11 year old son has been inspired to want to play ice hockey (why did I say ''yes'' to watching a few Sharks games?!) and I was wondering about the camps at the Oakland Ice Arena. And since he's not a strong skater - is it a ridiculous idea to sign him up? not a jock mom

If you are willing to drive a bit farther, our TriValley Minor Hockey Association run out of Dublin, is a great place to get your son started. We have an Inhouse (no travel) division that takes kids at all levels. My son is not a particularly strong skater either, and has found playing for the Blue Devils inhouse league to be quite fun. No matter the location, hockey is a great sport for kids!! Check it out: Susan

Street Hockey or Ice Hockey Venues?

May 2011

Is there any organized group for kids that plays street hockey? Our neighbor (in his 20s, from Upstate NY) has introduced my boys to street hockey. One boy has really taken to it (and he's generally less into team sports) and it would be great to encourage him, get some coaching, and have him play with a group of kids. Alternatively, is there any venue for ice hockey other than the Bladium? We're in El Cerrito and that's pretty far away. kk

I don't know of any outdoor organized kids' roller hockey around here, but Dry Ice in Oakland ( has youth roller leagues. They're over by the Oakland Coliseum, which may not be any more convenient than Bladium from El Cerrito. The nearest ice hockey rink in the East Bay is Oakland Ice downtown, since the demise of Berkeley Iceland a few years back. Hockey Mom

Pick-up ice hockey for adults?

April 2007

We just moved to the East Bay and my husband is looking to drop-in on casual ice-hockey games or sign up for a recreation league near Albany. Any recommendations? Agnes

My husband plays pick up hockey at Dublin Ice (a long drive, I know) -- it's Monday, Wednesday and Friday, see for times. Oakland Ice offers pickup 5 days a week -- see

Both rinks also offer rec leagues, and Yerba Buena rink in the city does, too. Unfortunately with the demise of Berkeley Iceland I don't know of anything closer to Albany. Future hockey mom

Ice Skating Birthday Party for 7-year-old

August 2002

We are looking into having an ice skating birthday party for our 7 year old at either Berkeley Iceland or the Oakland Ice Skating Rink. Has anyone had experience at either of these places? We are leaning toward the Oakland Rink because they provide you with a room, skates, party supplies and bags, pizza, soda for a fixed price per child. I have heard that the party room at Berkeley Iceland is not very nice and, at $50 an hour, expensive. The staff seems to discourage people from renting the room and suggest that you just take up a few tables in the public area. I do not like this idea - scrambling for tables and trying to have a party where others are getting ready to skate. Any suggestions? MK

We had my daughter's 6th birthday party at Berkeley Iceland. The key to the success was that we hired a teacher for a group lesson. An area was designated at the end of the ice rink just for the party and for those kids who didn't know how to skate, they got a lesson. I think the cost was around $100 (well worth it). It turned out that only 2 kids knew how to skate, but by the end of the party, all the kids were skating. I also hired our babysitter and her sister (both skaters) to be on standby to hold hands and skate with the novices. It was well worth the $40 (total) I paid them.

Our invitation advised that a lesson was provided, and that if parents wanted to skate, it would be at their own expense. No one seemed to mind, and in fact, most parents opted to not skate given the lesson and the skater helpers. Also, for those parents who did pay to skate were very understanding of our decision since we gave them advance notice.

Iceland has a party room, but it is kind of funky (like most of the place) and didn't seem that the extra expense was worth it. So my husband got to the rink when the doors opened and managed to get two tables for our party in the snack room. We picked up pizza about an hour into the lesson/skating from a pizzeria nearby and brought our own drinks and snacks, etc. The rink will tell you that they want you to purchase from their vending machines, but I told them that I preferred organic juices and snacks (as opposed to the junk they offered) and I didn't have any problems.

It was great fun and I am hoping my daughter wants to do it again for her 7th birthday.

Good luck. Shoshana

We had an ice skating party at the Oakland Ice Arena for my daughter on her fifth birthday (three years ago). I felt that it went pretty well, although most of the children hadn't skated before, so the parents ended up paying to skate, too. We regretted not buying their tickets, but it all happened so fast that we hardly noticed until the lesson actually included a lot of parents holding their children upright on the ice! Perhaps seven year olds will be a bit more able to handle the challenge? Or be prepared to pay for adults to skate, too? We tried to reimburse the parents (for we hadn't intended that they pay for themselves), but they were too kind to accept the money. Oops....

As for the pizza and the room, that went fine. We were scheduled right after another party, but the switch over went well enough. I really liked that I didn't have to bring more than the cake and the party favors, especially since I had a babe-in-arms as well at the time. It was overall a good party, and we sure tired out those parents, I mean the kids! Caroline

Ice Skating for Toddler

From: Marianne

We are thinking of enrolling our daughter (almost 3) in one of the classes at Berkeley Iceland. Has anyone experience with these skating classes for very young children? Are there any particularly recommendable and affordable classes in the area? We would appreciate any advice on this topic. Thanks.

From: Kim (Dec 1997)

Berkeley Iceland has a very nice 'Family Session' on Wednesday nights at 6:30 that we attend. They form a number of small groups for class lessons 7:00 to 7:30. You pay only for the weeks you attend - it is ongoing. They usually have a couple of skating pros that teach the little kids - I know many that started at age three. Each group including adults has their own teacher. You can stay free for the public session afterwards if you still have the energy. If you give that a try you can talk to the pros there about other classes you are interested in.

From: Cecilia (Dec 1997)

I was also thinking of taking my 2-year-old daughter to an ice skating class at Berkeley Iceland. The woman there said that I could sign up for the class, but my daughter may be too young for it to work. Parents are not allowed on the ice with the kids. She said that I could sign up for the class, and if it didn't work out for Diana, I could get my money back.

I decided to take Diana out for a trial run. We invited her best friend (another 2-year-old girl) and went out for an afternoon of ice skating at a public session.

I was able to get the skates on her (yes, they had her size) and get her out on the ice for about 2 minutes. Then she wanted the skates off. Then she and her little friend had a lot of fun running up and down the bleachers and begging for snacks out of the candy machines...

I think I'm going to wait until she's a little older. Berkeley Iceland is a great rink, and I've always enjoyed skating there. Maybe if Diana sees me skating she'll want to copy me eventually?

Ice Hockey

July 1999

Iceland in Berkeley has Hockey and figure skating programs. -- Veronica

Oakland skate on 17th in Oakland off of telegraph has a great ice skating program, league figure skating and even a class for indiviudals with disabilities. -Kim

Berkeley Iceland (2727 Milvia St, Berkeley, CA 94703 510/843-8800) has an Ice Hockey Mite Team (ages 6-8 I believe) called the Berkeley Bulldogs. My son has been in this program three years now - a very nice group!. They have both inhouse and travel teams for hockey of all ages, as well as figure skating classes. Oakland Ice Center (519 18th, Oakland CA 510/268-9000) also has ice hockey, but I can't recall the name of the team or if they start as young as Mites. -- Kim