A new Bellbrae-based roller skating school is bringing back the joy of a favourite pastime for another generation to enjoy.
Surf Coast Roller Skaters started last year with just three members but has quickly grown to more than 70 skaters who are part of an enthusiastic crew, some as young as five years old.
The group was established by Laura Issell, an experienced competitive skater and coach, who was forced to pivot due to COVID adversely affecting her event management business.
“I noticed that due to the pandemic more and more people were taking up outdoor sports and it went from a handful of people skating on the coast to many picking up skates again and needing a teacher to learn safely,” she says.
“I think most people were seeking the feeling of fun and freedom within your own neighborhood just like in the 80s when everyone spent more time interacting with the community and moving and playing outside, rather than on technology.”
Laura offers a variety classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from adult beginners and kids lessons through to intermediate and refresher lessons.
Each of the classes has a fun name such as radical rainbows (age 5-8), magical skaters (age 9-12), fresh rollers (beginners) and brollers (men’s).
“All of our roller skate classes feature techniques from dance, artistic, speed, street, derby, fitness, jam and park skating,” Laura explains.
“We teach something new every week and have an optional theme to inspire some fun wardrobe choices.”
Laura, who performs with Skate Odyssey Melbourne, grew up with skating as a hobby and her father owned the biggest rink in the Southern Hemisphere.
She says roller skating is booming once again as a hobby and is not only good for a person’s physical health but also benefits their mental health.
“Most skaters become obsessed with how much fun it is to roll,” she says. “It’s low impact on the joints and it gives you a feeling of freedom which allows you to disconnect from your everyday life.
As well as classes, Laura also hosts Sunset Esplanade Skates on a Friday evening once a month and regular roller discos have recently commenced, with the first one held at 4 Pines Torquay.
Laura says she loves building community and that is exactly what is happening at Surf Coast Roller Skaters.
“I have had parents tell me that roller skating has made their child more confident, makes them feel like a rock star and like they fit in for the first time,” she says. “Women in their 60s explain to me that roller skating has given them true joy and a sense of community for the first time in years.”
Laura has big plans for Surf Coast Roller Skaters including customised skate birthday parties, corporate performances and skating festivals to attract the best skaters and coaches to our shores.
“We would also like to run youth programs, a regional school program and search for local council and government support to run programs to combat mental health issues through movement and fitness,” she says.
“We would also love to raise enough money to purchase a set of roller skates and sound equipment to offer free programs and find a permanent home for the school.”
Discover more about Surf Coast Roller Skaters via email [email protected] or check out @surfcoastrollerskaters on Instagram and surfcoastrollerskaters.com.au.