Sherwood Ice Arena skaters lament its closure
For Alyssa DeTurk, the shutdown of the Sherwood Ice Arena was deeply personal.
That's because DeTurk's grandparents, Jan and Brent Birkemeier of Tigard, built and opened the ice arena 20 years ago, along with the help of Steve and Denise Prince.
Since then, DeTurk has been an integral part of the Borchers Drive location.
"I started skating here when I was 8 as a figure skater, and I was a competitive figure skater until 2017," DeTurk, 28, said during a recent interview in the now-shuttered building.
She later worked at the arena as its skating director and as a skating coach before most recently serving as the facility's controller.
The ice arena closed following Gov. Kate Brown's Dec. 17 announcement that Oregon was extending its state of emergency closures of most facilities until March 3, to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeTurk, a Tigard resident who graduated from Westside Christian High School, said she remembers when her grandparents initially announced plans to construct an ice rink.
"They said, 'Hey, we're building an ice arena. We want to buy you all skates and and for you all to take lessons."
DeTurk said she, her sister and cousin all took them up on the offer and stuck with it.
"This is my second home, and just thinking about all the figure skaters and hockey players who are displaced now, they have no form of exercise because gyms are closed," she said of the tight-knit skating community.
DeTurk said her grandparents are having a hard time dealing with the notion that the public ice arena, one of only two in Washington County, has shut down.
"This was their baby," she said. "What came from it is incredible. They can't even imagine that it would be this amazing."
DeTurk said it was exactly two months from the day they sold the ice-skating rink, Jan. 23, 2020, that they were forced to shut down the first time because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
"It's been rough on these new owners, obviously," she said about co-owners Roy MacMillan and Dave Flora.
It was equally hard to see fellow employees laid off right before Christmas, she said.
DeTurk said she has hopes that the Sherwood Ice Arena will open again but is also trying not to get her hopes too high.
"If the state could let us open again, that would be incredible because, like I said, thousands of people are missing this place. I'm missing this place."
Someone else who is disappointed with the shutdown of the ice arena is Connor Schuckmann, 17, who lives in Northwest Portland and is a student at Willamette Connections Academy, an online public school. Schuckmann currently is training in Wenatchee, Washington, where he's part of the farm team for the Wenatchee Wild, which is part of the British Columbia Hockey League.
"I used to train as often as I could at the Sherwood Ice Arena and was planning to work on my classes at Willamette Connections Academy online school at the rink in between sessions on the ice before the pandemic shut down the rink," Schuckmann wrote in an email. "With the rink shut down now, there is one less way for me to do what I love, and it's not just in Oregon that this is happening. Many rinks are shutting down in Washington and other states are taking away kids' ability to stay active and have fun.
Schuckmann said he's worried how those closures will affect the future of hockey in general.
"Not being able to skate at a place so amazing like Sherwood, really puts a dent in not only my hockey career but also figure skating careers," he said.
On Jan. 4, Sherwood City Council President Tim Rosener drafted a letter to Leah Horner, director of regional solutions in the governor's office, asking that the Sherwood Ice Arena be allowed to remain open. City officials were told that the state was reviewing the planned reopening plans in Washington state and would let the city know what they decide related to reopening ice rinks, Rosener said Jan. 12.
"I took this as a positive movement," Rosener said.
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