Students, faculty and staff will be able to enjoy ice skating in the open air right on campus now that the University of Maine at Presque Isle has established a small ice skating rink behind Gentile Hall. The 30- by 60-foot rink officially opened on Feb. 5 following a short ribbon-cutting ceremony with UMPI President Linda Schott and other campus officials.
The new rink will be used for recreational skating and new lights installed behind Gentile Hall will allow for nighttime ice skating. Due to liability reasons, the rink is only open to students, faculty, staff, and those who have a Gentile Hall membership.
“The excitement in so many people’s faces here on campus when they found out that the rink was here was amazing! We are very excited to provide this fun and active recreational activity for our campus. There are a number of residential students including our international students who don’t have transportation and are always looking for something fun to do, so this gives them an additional on-campus opportunity for activity,” Dennis Koch, UMPI Director of Housing and Residence Life, said.
The idea for the rink started with a conversation in September when a student stopped by Koch’s office wondering what there was to do on the weekends. The discussion turned to outdoor activities. Koch said he recalled his days working at a college in Vermont and how much ice skating was enjoyed as a pastime, so he asked around to see if any outdoor skating was done on campus during the winter.
“The idea had been batted around several times before but no one had really taken the idea and run with it,” Koch said. “So, I did some research on what it would take to build one on campus.”
After consulting with Gregg Bouchard, UMPI’s Director of Facilities Management, they found a company that sold rink kits and purchased a 30- by 60-foot kit. Then facilities installed the rink and lights behind Gentile Hall to shine on the rink. UMPI students from the Hockey Club and the Outing Club have provided support and feedback for the project. Koch said if the rink gets a high level of usage this winter, officials will look into getting a bigger rink next year.