The McFarland Ice Arena is celebrating its 25-year anniversary with a new rink manager, programs and maintenance.
The McFarland Community Ice Arena (MCIA) hired Christian Blick as the new rink manager Aug. 12. He is working with assistant rink manager Rob Nixon to bring more programs to the rink and update the facility.
The former rink manager, David Patton, managed the rink for seven years. He decided to semi-retire and begin another business venture.
Blick grew up in the metro Detroit area where he played AAA hockey. When his brother became the rink manager of Blue Line Ice Arena in Fond du Lac, Blick moved to Wisconsin to help his brother start The Hockey Factory program at the arena.
The Hockey Factory is a development program that works with community rinks to develop camps, teams and tournaments.
He moved to Monona in 2016 and began coaching teams throughout the area. He coached at a variety of levels, from learn-to-skate programs through high school hockey.
“Now we’re bringing Hockey Factory from Fond du Lac down to here,” Blick said.
Teams for children born in the years 2008-11 start this spring. More teams will be created if there is extra room at the rink.
Summer brings hockey camps. Parents can drop their children off on their way to work and pick them up on the way home.
“The benefit of the Hockey Factory, or me running it, is the money stays in the rink,” he said. “It stays in the facility.”
Blick also oversees MCIA’s Learn to Skate program for children 4 and older and Learn to Play program for children to learn the basics of hockey.
The current session started Wednesday, Oct. 9, but winter sessions begin in December.
When it comes to hockey, Blick’s goal is to keep the sport affordable for families.
“A big goal is to try to make hockey more cost effective,” he said.
The programs cost $80 for 16 sessions. The rink’s equipment representative can provide gear and skates.
Blick also recognizes the importance hockey and other competitive sports have on children. After teaching children how to skate, he will see many of them play through high school hockey and adult leagues.
“You do have a substantial impact on these kids’ lives,” Blick said. “A lot of it’s just trying to be a good role model for the kids.”
Nixon added that hockey teaches lessons and time players spend together outside of the rink help children learn lessons like teamwork.
“You don’t really realize it at the time, but you really do,” Nixon said.
The managers are making additional improvements to MCIA, including glass shielding, new flooring for player benches and locker room benches, and monitoring.
“Over the next three or four years, we have over $200,000 to $300,000 worth of updates and maintenance that we need to get done to the rink,” Blick said.