Making Skating Accessible For All

At South Bend Venues Parks & Arts, we strive to make sure every resident has full access to all of our park amenities, regardless of personal circumstances. This value led to the creation of our Skate It Forward (SIF) initiative, which aims to eliminate barriers to entry to Howard Park’s Ice Trail for fellow residents.

One such barrier is the ability to skate, and thanks to SIF we are excited to be able to offer introductory skating lessons. Every Monday evening, we close the Ice Trail to public skating and provide the opportunity for aspiring skaters to either enroll in a 4-week course  or participate in FREE drop-in classes. Regardless of class selection, all participants MUST register online in advance as classes have limited capacities. Classes are 30-minutes in length and will follow one of two Learn To Skate USA curriculums: a Snowplow Sam Introductory Class for pre-school aged skaters and a Basic Skills class for those 6 and up.

All classes will take place on the Tire Rack Ice Pond and be offered in three different time blocks: 5:30 PM, 6 PM, 6:30 PM and 7 PM. After class, skaters are welcome to stay around and practice their newfound skills on the Ice Trail.

Note: Drop-in classes are geared towards a one-time class while the 4-week class is a consecutive class where you build on your skills each week.

Snowplow Sam Introductory Class

The Snowplow Sam levels are introductory classes divided into four progressive levels allowing children with no prior skating experience to build confidence while learning the basic skills of skating. These classes are designed to help children six and younger develop the ABCs of movement: agility, balance, coordination and speed. The ABCs are essential for developing fundamental movement skills and physical literacy. All classes will be taught in a safe and positive environment, incorporating fun and games making class time an enjoyable experience for all.


Here’s Where We’ll Start

Snowplow Sam 1

A. Sit and stand up with skates on (off ice)
B. Sit and stand up (on ice)
C. March in place
D. March forward (8-10 steps)
E. March, then glide on two feet
F. Dip in place

Basic Skills FUNdamentals

Basic Skills teaches the FUNdamentals of ice skating and provides the best foundation for figure skating, hockey and speed skating. Six progressive levels introduce forward and backward skating, stops, edges, crossovers and turns. Upon completion of the Basic Skills 1-6 levels, skaters will be able to confidently advance to more specialized areas of skating. All classes will be well-structured with the focus on proper skill development taught in a positive, FUN and social environment. Skaters will progress at their own rate and advance after skill mastery is demonstrated.

Discover, Learn and Play – Basic 1 and 2: These introductory levels allow new skaters with no prior skating experience to build confidence while learning to skate.


Here’s Where We’ll Start

A. Sit on ice and stand up
B. March forward across the ice
C. Forward two-foot glide
D. Dip
E. Forward swizzles (6-8 in a row)
F. Backward wiggles (6-8 in a row)
G. Beginning snowplow stop on two feet or one foot

Bonus skill: two-foot hop in place

Meet Our Instructors

Alexa Zeese

I have been a figure skater since January 2010, and I am currently at the senior level. I have competed in many freestyle, ice dance, and synchronized skating competitions and levels over the years. I am a Sophomore at Saint Mary’s College studying Mathematics and Electrical Engineering. Skating has always held a special place in my heart, and I love teaching students how to skate, advancing them through the Learn to Skate program.

Bridget Stockhram

I am from South Bend, Indiana. I am currently a freshman at the University of Notre Dame, where I am studying economics. I started skating in first grade and I have since competed in figure skating, ice dance, and synchronized skating.

Monica Caponigro

I am a Senior in high school at John Adams High School, and this is my second year coaching at Howard Park! I have been skating for the past 10 years, but I began assistant coaching in 2014, and have been a part of the Learn to Skate program ever since! While I’m not at the rink, I enjoy spending time at the Robinson Community Learning Center, running with my Cross Country team, and playing with my dog, Maggie.

Molly Mahoney

I am the Programming & Event Coordinator and Learn to Skate Director at Compton Family Ice Arena. I have been coaching Learn to Skate since 2012. I have been skating for over 20 years, first as a figure skater and now as a hockey player. I love getting people started on their skating journey and excited to be coaching again this season!