Janesville skating club going strong
Photos of the Janesville Mites practicing during a time when the popularity of youth hockey is growing.
JANESVILLE Janesville youth hockey is in great shape.
Numbers are up, the first Janesville girls traveling team has been formed, and the Janesville Ice Skating Center is being used as never before.
Mary Burke, president of Janesville Youth Hockey, credits the recent success of the Janesville Bluebird hockey team, the creation of the Rock County Fury high school girls team and the new Janesville Jets junior hockey team with creating more interest in the sport.
“Last year we had a large influx of in-house skaters,” Burke said. “Last year, we had almost 90 ‘learn to skate’ kids.”
Without doing any registration yet, there have been 25 youngsters who have expressed interest in the hockey club’s “Learn to Skate” program. Registration for the program is Oct. 22 at the Janesville Ice Skating Center.
In the past, JYH has fielded one Mite (ages 7-8), two Squirt (9-10), two Pee Wee (11-12) and one Bantam (13-14) traveling teams.
After a recent registration, there appears to be enough interest to field two Mite, three Squirt, two Pee Wee and two Bantam teams.
A combined Janesville and Beloit Under-10/12 and U14 girls teams also are in the works.
“The co-op between Beloit and Janesville is really helping to grown the girls program,” said Diane Runde, who schedules the ice time for the youth skaters.
With the increased interest, Runde’s job of finding ice time for all the teams has been more difficult.
“She’s had fun this year,” Burke said.
Runde’s hair is still intact.
“But there is some gray,” Runde said. “Does that count?”
“She has a good sense of humor,” Burke replies.
The Jets junior hockey club will take up several hours each day. That and the additional traveling teams have expanded Runde’s scheduling book.
“It just causes us to shift a lot of things,” Runde said. “For example, we never played any 7:30 or 8 o’clock games on Sunday mornings. Now we’re going to be using that ice.
“(The Jets) took more Saturday afternoon and Saturday evenings ice,” Runde said. “So we shifted down into the mornings.”
Runde said Madison hockey clubs have faced the scheduling problem for years.
The increased business should help the Ice Skating Center.
“It should be a lot more profitable now,” Burke said.
On Saturdays when the Jets have home games, the Ice Skating Center will open at 7:30 a.m. and will be active until 10 p.m.
“And when the Jets are on the road, that just makes us go later in the afternoons,” Runde said.
As of two weeks ago, Runde had 158 games sheets filled out for the upcoming season.
“It’s 40 to 50 more (than last year),” she said.
Ice time for practices is where some difficulty arises.
“We’re doing some creative things with our practices,” Runde said.
“We’re practicing on Friday nights for the first time,” Burke said.
The youth hockey season begins Oct. 1 with tryouts.
Things will get interesting when the Bluebirds and Fury start their high school seasons about a month after that. The Jets will practice from about 1:15 to 3:15 p.m., with the high school teams coming in after that.
But that is something Burke and Runde are willing to deal with.
“It’s just kind of cool to see the growing number of kids,” Burke said.