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Operating own skating rink dream come true for owner

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- David Roy learned to skate not long after learning to walk and eventually found a way to make it his calling.  

Roy, 42, has owned and operated Skateland of Campbells Creek for 10 years at the old Midway Elementary School.

He spends his days working on the building. In the evenings, he watches as kids take their first turn around the wooden floor and old-timers get back into their groove.

His skating memories go back to his childhood, when he would shuffle around in skates strapped to his shoes.

Roy, who learned to skate when he was just 3 years old, worked at the Skateland in Kanawha City, which once boasted a 14,000-square-foot rink in the space where Nautilus now operates. He worked there from 1983 till 1992.

He worked his way up from skate boy to general manager at Skateland. He then worked at a roller rink in Fayetteville from 1992 until 1996.

He also spent time on the competitive skating circuit, where he won the gold medal for mixed pairs when he was 19 years old. His partner that year was a 62-year-old woman.

He has skated all over the country and seen the world on eight wheels, he said.

Roy bought the old elementary school in 2002 when the Kanawha County school board put it up for auction.

The Cleveland native had a plan for the building.

"Truly it's all I ever wanted to do," Roy said. "I know it wasn't a skating rink to begin with but what we've built here is a nice mom-and-pop skating rink that's affordable.

"You don't have to refinance your house to skate here."

He runs a tight ship, preferring to buy used items and doing most of the maintenance work himself. He spent $30,000 on 400 new pairs of rental skates in November and was "blessed to pay cash" for them. He said those skates and a computer he purchased for the office are the only things he has bought new.

"Everything else here is used," Roy said. "And 99 percent of the time if there's a job needed to be done around here, I'm doing it."

He has been installing televisions throughout the building to play music videos to match the songs being played on the rink and on the dance floor tucked away in an upstairs alcove called Club Skateland.

He also recently installed a new laser lighting system to go with the rink's space theme. Another addition is a game room just off the skating rink to be filled with arcade-style games.

Roy does it all, from handing out skates and repairing them to painting. He also gets help from friends. One man hands out skates just to get some free time on the floor, he said.

He also teaches others, mostly children, how to skate.

The skates can be "locked" so the wheels don't move, allowing the skater to get used to the weight, Roy said. He prefers that method to walker-like devices called skate-trainers, which he says are dangerous.

Roy said many roller-skating games, such as the Hokey Pokey, Red Light Green Light and Wipeout, actually are used to teach children to skate and to hone their skills.

He said Red Light Green Light teaches beginners how to stop, Wipeout teaches them to fall without hurting themselves and Ghostbusters teaches new skaters how to turn.

Roy estimated he had done the Hokey Pokey more than 7,500 times in his life.

"The kids skating here now, some of them are the children and grandchildren of the kids I taught to skate at Skateland in Kanawha City," he said.

Among the children he's taught have been his own four, who he said have grown up on skates.

His youngest daughter, 9-year-old Grae, also learned to skate before she could walk. He said he and his wife would hold her up and she would move her feet as if she were skating. Roy strapped a pair of Fisher-Price skates on her feet and watched in amazement as she clicked her feet on the floor trying to skate.

"All she had ever seen had been people skating," he said.

Grae helps her dad at the rink and skates there often.

So do other area children. The rink was filled with kids and adults attending two birthday parties on a recent weekend. Jaxson Bowles, 10, and Cameron Griffith, 14, were helping Roy behind the counter and skating to the music.

Cameron, a freshman at Riverside High School, has been going to Skateland since he was 3.

"I'm here every day we're open," he said from behind the counter. "It's a very fun concept, and it's good exercise and good for the kids."

Jaxson, a 10-year-old student at Mary Ingles Elementary School, agreed.

"I like coming here," he said. "On weekends it's the only thing to do, and it's a good way for kids to have fun."

The boys, who also practice skating tricks on the rink, are excited about the game room.

Joe Lipscomb, 54, of Gauley Bridge was at the rink for a birthday party for his grandsons, Kayden and Trevor. It was his first time skating in about 15 years he said. He took a tumble on the floor but got back up and skated a little more before calling it quits, saying his ankles were killing him.

"This is good for the kids, good exercise," Lipscomb said with a laugh. "Hard on us old people.

"It's good for them to have a place like this to come to. It keeps them out of trouble and off drugs. Busy kids are good kids."

The rink is open 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday for Christian Skate Night; 6:30 to 9 p.m. for $2 Tuesdays with Top 40 music; 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday for Country/Retro night; 8 to 11 p.m. Friday with Top 40 and dance music; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

It is closed on Wednesday.

For more information, check out Skateland of Campbells Creek on Facebook or call 304-925-4939.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.


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