It’s owned by two of the city’s natives!
Detroit's first Black woman-owned figure skating club has officially opened its doors, Detroit Free Press reports.
Angela Blocker-Loyd started figure skating when she was just 9-years-old, becoming one of the youngest skaters at the Berkley Ice Arena and Recreation Center. There, she met her lifelong friend and future business partner, Candice Tamakloe, who at 14 years old, took the younger skater under her wing.
“Angie was the little skater and I was the big skater. We were also only two of a few African American skaters at Berkley, and I had been skating there for a few years, so I took her on as a little sister,” recalled Tamakloe.
Tamakloe went on to skate competitively through high school, skating at the junior level and testing through the senior freestyle, the highest level to attain for an amateur skater. Blocker Loyd also continued with her passion of skating, competing as a teen as well.
Now the two women have decided to come back to their first loves, joining forces to open up the Dream Detroit Skating Academy (DDSA), the city's first female-owned figure skating academy and one of the only Black-owned figure skating club in the state of Michigan. Both women are running DDSA alongside skating coach Crystal Stewart. The mission is to provide affordable skating lessons to low-income youth in Detroit ages four and up, exposing them to the world of figure skating.
“Exposure facilitates many of our youth’s interests. Interests are the seeds that inspire dreams, and dreams fuel our drive for success. Unfortunately, figure skating is an opportunity to which few Detroit youth are exposed, but Dream Detroit is working to change that,” a statement on the group's website reads.
The club offers lessons both group and private lessons for youth who have no experience all the way up to those in need of skill-building as well as competitive opportunities and ice show performances. DDSA recently launched this weekend at the Jack Adams Memorial Ice Arena on the city’s west side, offering four classes weekly, two on Fridays and two on Saturdays.
“There has never been a skater at the national or international level to come out of the city of Detroit. We want to bring that quality back into the city,” Tamakloe said.
The first figure skating club in Detroit was the Olympia Skating Club, launched in the 1940s. It later moved outside the city to Bloomfield Hills and renamed itself the Detroit Skating Club. By 1987, the Renaissance Figure Skating Club had launched at the Jack Adams Memorial Ice Arena, providing opportunities to inner city youth, which is where Tamakloe got started before her mother transferred her to Bloomfield for a better opportunity.
Now the women are bringing it back to its roots, aimed at making the sport more accessible. Blocker-Loyd said not only is ice skating a great sport but it’s a great way to exercise and it’s fun.
“I think, for me, it’s just another outlet or sense of freedom. And being able to express myself creatively …yeah, that’s really what it is for me. And it’s just, it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun to do,” said Blocker-Loyd.
One prospective student, eleven-year-old Jadyn Simpson, said she’s excited to start skating and although she knows it will be challenging, she trusts her coaches to help her figure it out.
“I just can’t wait to start ice skating…If Coach Angie and my cousin say I can do it, then I can do it. I trust them,” said Simpson.
Blocker-Loyd is excited to build up her student base, likening skating to life, and emphasizing the similarities and lessons between the two.
“Skating is like life. So, you know, at the beginning, just be prepared to fall, a lot. But also be prepared to get back up. And, as long as you’re not afraid to fall, you’ll be fine,” explained Blocker-Loyd.
To learn more about the Dream Detroit Skating Academy, visit their website here.
Photo Courtesy of Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press