Chances are that if you were a kid taking skating lessons in the Greater Boston area during the past 50 years, you most likely took your lessons through the Bay State Skating School. It’s likely too that owner Rosemary Hanley Cloran can still out-skate you, even at the age of 79.
Cloran and her friend Carol Butterworth McKinnon started Bay State Skating School in 1968. Both had been competitive figure skaters. They were the first two instructors and business started to grow. They started advertising and renting rink time. They hired professional instructors. Today the school is growing as fast as ever, offering lessons for children from age 4-18. At one time they offered lessons to adults, but they no longer do.
“We were two women with a shoestring and an idea,” Cloran said. She also has the support of her family. Today her daughter is involved in the business and her granddaughters are instructors. McKinnon retired in 2001.
“We were approached by some school groups, the PTAs, about lessons,” Cloran said before she took to the ice at the Cronin Rink last week. “Today we’ve have had more than 75,000 students. Many families have had three generations who have learned to skate with our instructors. We worked out of our kitchens over coffee.”
Cloran learned to skate when she had a bout of Whooping Cough as a child. Back then that illness would get you out of school for two months. She and a neighbor child with the same illness were bored, very bored. Someone suggested taking them to the ice rink and she is still skating today!
After joining the Skating Club of Boston her enthusiasm for the sport grew.
“I’ve skated for more than 50 years,” she said with a smile. Prior to entering the skating business, Cloran was a first-grade teacher in Waltham.
While Cloran’s base is in Newton, the Bay State Skating School has instructors in just about every rink around the area offering lessons. Today the skating school is at rinks in Brookline-Cleveland Circle, Brookline-Larz Anderson, Cambridge, Medford, Newton-Brighton, Quincy, Somerville, Waltham, West Roxbury and Weymouth.
“We have instructors for all abilities, which is nice if you have more than one child. This way they get the instructor for their skill set,” Cloran said, adding that figure skating, recreational skating and hockey skills are areas people can choose from.”
So what’s the trick to skating when you’re older?
“I think it’s just doing exercises and being energetic,” Cloran said, adding that confidence helps. “Age is just a figment of the imagination. I love seeing the little skaters come. At first, they’re afraid to go on the ice. But we show them how and then you see the smiles. It’s a lifetime skill.” Contact Bay State Skating School at 781-890-8480 or www.BayStateSkatingSchool.org.