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Hiding In Plain Sight

With programs and activities like G.O.A.L!, Ford Ice Center is elevating its profile in the Bellevue community

Much is made of hidden gems but the Ford Ice Center-Bellevue is unique in that category.

In terms of sheer size, it’s arguably the most visible structure in Bellevue. But of the more than 1 million visitors who pass through its doors every year, relatively few are from the immediate area.

So, how can something so visible qualify as hidden?

“Most of our guests come from out of town for the different tournaments and events that we host,” says Alita Petras, Ford Ice Center’s Business Operations Manager. “We want to raise the facility’s profile within the community so that more people from Bellevue will learn about our programs and what they have to offer.”

One way they’re trying to do that is through G.O.A.L! or Get Out And Learn!

G.O.A.L! is an entry level program for children ages 4-9 with no prior hockey experience. Classes are capped at 30 participants who receive on ice instruction from USA Hockey certified coaches. G.O.A.L! programs are held on five consecutive Tuesdays at various times throughout the year with the next program running January 9 through February 6. Each class is co-ed but there are two girls-only programs that are led by female coaches.

“Hey, ice time and equipment are expensive, so there’s gotta be a catch!” you must be thinking. But there is no catch. There is no cost to participate in G.O.A.L! Once enrolled, children are outfitted with equipment (helmet, pads, skates, jersey and stick) that they borrow for each session. And once they graduate, the jersey and stick are theirs to keep. They’ll also receive a swag bag of Nashville Predators goodies.

If your child is an absolute beginner who has never been on the ice, you might want to consider enrollment in a Learn To Skate program prior to registering for G.O.A.L! For a $134 fee, Learn To Skate students will receive more attentive instruction in the form of one coach for every four students.

Learn To Skate consists of a weekly 30-minute lesson for six consecutive weeks. Skates and helmets are provided, and participants have access to unlimited public skating at no additional cost while they are enrolled.

Petras says that G.O.A.L!  and Learn To Skate are just two facets of the Predators’ ongoing and unwavering commitment to grow the game.

“Most NHL teams do not offer this type of programming and most don’t own their own community rinks like the Preds do (in Bellevue, Antioch and Clarksville), so this is super rare,” she says.

In addition to open public skating, skating classes and hockey leagues are available at Ford Ice Center for all ages and skill levels. There are two rinks with open seating for spectators, meeting rooms for private events like meetings or birthday parties and, a fully stocked pro shop.

At the hub of it all is the spacious and inviting Draft Picks restaurant and bar that is open to the public daily at 4 p.m. and 11 a.m. on weekends. There are many TVs for watching all the Preds games and, with bowl season upon us, you could spend an entire day and well into the evening with food, beverages and entertainment for all.

“We have a fully loaded cable package so, if the game is televised, you can probably watch it here,” says Petras. “And since we have league play late into the evening and well past midnight, Draft Picks is open late as well.”

Petras’ enthusiasm for Ford Ice Center comes naturally. A Cleveland native and former hockey player herself, she first visited Nashville to watch the Predators as far back as 2014.

“As an organization, the Preds are so involved in the community; other teams don’t scratch the surface,” she says. “I’ve been to other organizations, and the Predators are always hosting community events. They are so focused on the city so, when I visited, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

She went as far as applying for a job and interviewing on one of her visits. Within weeks she was hired for a part-time position, moved to town and moved up through the ranks. She and her fiancé, Matthew Danczak, whom she met while both were playing hockey, live in the Bellevue area.

“Playing the game and working at rinks prepared me for this opportunity,” she says. “There are 30 rinks in Cleveland but nothing that compares to what we have here. The programming is very affordable, the amenities are first class and the location, hotels and restaurants make it very accessible.”

One might even say that Ford Ice Center-Bellevue is a gem of its own accord.

Upcoming  G.O.A.L! programs at Ford Ice Center-Bellevue begin on January 9, February 20, March 26 and  April 9. Girls-only programs begin January 11 and March 21. Additional information is available at the rink or by calling 615.744.6640. A registration portal for Ford Ice Center programs is available online at nhl.com/predators/fordicecenter/goal-program.

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