March/April 2019

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IN AUGUST 2017, the Indiana town of Angola built its first ice rink. While some used to trek an hour south to play in leagues at Fort Wayne, the new Thunder Ice Arena ignited a vibrant skating and hockey scene that never existed before. The single-sheet facility at Trine University pioneered a handful of programs. The rural private college introduced four NCAA and American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) college hockey teams, and later, a synchronized skating team. In turn, experienced student-athletes helped teach a growing number of youth players. In the town of 8,600, kids accustomed to kicking balls across grassy fields and shooting hoops on the basketball court hit the ice for the first time. Eighty kids, ages 7 through 18, signed up for the arena's in-house league this year. The arena also hosts skate sessions for local school districts and homeschoolers. Now, one of the biggest challenges is making sure locals know about it. "People are still learning about us, even though it's a small town," says Mike Ferrell, the ice arena's manager. "But, we've been very pleased with the turnout from the community, and our youth programs are growing." Team Building Creating entire hockey and figure skating programs from nothing isn't something 14 / MARCH.APRIL.2019 USICERINKS.COM PHOTOS: TRINE UNIVERSITY Thunder Ice Arena brings fresh ice to rural Indiana // by EMILY ZAK Featured Rink Thunder Ice Arena | | Angola, Ind. New Horizons

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