North Valley Hockey and Sports Complex is run by the parents and kids that own it. They needed a big building to house the roller rink donated by a UC Davis hockey club, and neither the city of Chico nor CARD would work with them because they said it would compete with Cal Skate. I don’t know how the owner of Cal Skate is connected, but I know there was something totally fishy about the way the city and CARD handled this group.
So, they were offered a warehouse in Hamilton City by an owner who actually gave them free rent for over a year while they worked with the county of Glenn to make the building compliant for public use. They didn’t go to the taxpayers with a bond measure, they borrowed money and now our kids actually pay for practice time in their own rink to pay that loan off. My husband worked with the other dads, most of them licensed contractors, doing work they would have gotten paid a lot of money for anywhere else. We even put out our own money for supplies. Of course, after they started sending our kid a bill for rink time, we started handing in the receipts for the materials, asking to be re-compensated. At one point, they worked out a deal to pay our kids in rink time for work like, cleaning the rink floor and the restrooms.
This facility is used by other groups, including activities for “at risk” kids. Meaning, kids who don’t have anything better to do than shoot at street lights and stop signs with their bb guns. I grew up just outside of Princeton, I can really relate. Yes, my grandmother would have loaded us into the old Impala to take us to Hamilton City for a roller rink – we used to drive to Maxwell to swim in a real swimming pool, and Chico to go to a real “park.” When they opened the first Mickey D’s over in Yuba City, that became a regular Sunday jaunt. It was better than worrying where we were and exactly what we were doing on a 20 acre rice farm with a rice dryer right across the road and trucks flying past the driveway every five minutes. It’s tough on kids living in the sticks. Hamilton City is a “town,” by definition – they don’t roll up the sidewalks at night, cause there ain’t any. Kids that bored will learn bad habits.
My kid has aged out of the kids’ programs, but he still plays adult hockey with guys who range in age from 16 to 60. I’m being nice on that latter figure, I think there are some pretty old geezers out there, including this guy named Ken who is a regular hockey shark. I love watching the adult hockey – they play hard, and it’s way more exciting than watching the hormone cases on tv. And there’s always some soap opera – these grown men will actually bust into tears over this stuff. My son’s team mate has become the head referee for the adult league, and he’s had to break up fights between guys old enough to be his dad – in one case, his coach! One of the worst is Charley – he’s an elementary teacher for gawdsake, the nicest man you will ever meet – out of gear. I’ve seen that guy board the children on the rink, and then tell them it was for their own good! It’s all fun, even when they are swinging on each other. If they ever get anybody who is a real problem, they have a way of making the rink so cold the offender just kind of disappears.
The skates for Family Skate Night were donated by the Sonora hockey league, who also gave us (gave!) some very nice seats. They had upgraded, and offered us the old stuff, still plenty good, but in need of some TLC. My son and a couple of the other boys worked on those skates for a couple of weeks, I was amazed, my kid is a mechanic. He and his friends have also run the Family Skate Night, taking time to help the kids find skates to fit, teaching them how to put the skates on, running them around the rink until they were confident, or at least having fun. It’s fun to listen to him talk about working with these kids – I hate to admit it, but when he was about 2 – 4, he was a horrible, nasty little brat, running up to total strangers at the store and punching them right in the crotch. I can’t believe what a nice kid he’s turned out.
I hope you adventurous sorts will head over to Ham City – nice town, once you get to know it. I won’t recommend El Patio – it’s seen better days, that’s for sure. But, I will recommend Family Skate Night. Get out and try something new, and support a good cause while you’re at it.
Frankly, I don’t know if there’s disco music, but they do have a sound system, so it’s do-able.