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Detroit launches first skating academy for inner-city youth

skating
Posted at 11:49 AM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 11:49:11-04

It’s a new possibility and a chance for 10-Year-old Zoe Yancy to develop skills on the ice.

Yancy and the other beginner skaters will need those gliding techniques and proper form come May for their first competition.

“I’m really excited but kind of nervous at the same time, because this is still kind of new for me,” said Yancy.

It’s a new experience for every young skater here.

Before now, lacing up a pair of ice skates and being coached on this rink by two of the best was not a possibility.

Candace Tamakloe is a former competitive figure skater in the Detroit Metro area. Growing up here, she was among very few children of color with access to this type of sport.

“Everything that’s available for youth in the city is stereotypical,” she said. “They would be running track, they would be playing basketball, playing football. They would not be figure skating.”

Tamakloe says under-representation on the ice is an age-old problem and points to several factors, including lack of exposure and cost.

“Skates starting out for basic-skills skaters can start at $150, but for skaters going up through senior-level or to the Olympics, they can be up in the thousands,” she explained.

So, Tamakloe and award-winning figure skater, Angela Blocker-Lloyd, decided to step up and fill that void.

“We just felt it was time for youth in the city to have that opportunity that we had,” said Tamakloe.

In January, they launched Dream Detroit Skate Academy (DDSA), a first-of-its-kind program for the city.

Three nights a week, beginner to experienced-level participants ranging from ages 4 to adults, come here to the city’s recreation center.

Until now, finding a convenient ice-skating location for 17-year-old Kendyll Martin and others was challenging.

“I never had the opportunity to skate close to me and it’s great to see all these Black faces skating too, because I was one of the only Black skaters on the rink,” said Martin.

That’s one reason Tamakloe and Blocker-Lloyd hired an all-Black coaching team. They want to show that skating on an advanced level for people of color is possible.

Since DDSA’s launch, the response has been overwhelming.

“We thought we’d get maybe 25, maybe 40 kids to do this,” said Blocker-Lloyd. “So now, to have 145, we were like, woah!”

As the group of figure skaters for this year-round academy advances to the next level, Blocker-Lloyd is hoping to eventually make DDSA a national staple.

“I want to take it on the road and expose it to as many kids as possible,” she said.

Enrollment for Dream Detroit Skate Academy’s next session opens on April 1. Parents can register their kids at Dreamdetroitskates.com.