Gretzky Center rolls into La Verne

Campus Times
September 25, 1998

photo by Laura Ambriz

Wayne Gretzky's Roller Hockey Center, located on Puddingstone Drive, west of Fairplex Drive in La Verne, hosted a face-off between Gretzky's red and gray youth teams last Saturday. The La Verne center, one of five, opened on June 27 catering to youth and adult leagues. It also provides opportunities for clinics, camps and pick-up games.

by Ryan Allen
Arts & Entertainment Editor

La Verne's community is growing larger every year. With these growths comes certain physical additions to the neighborhood.

Last summer a major physical addition opened on June 27. La Verne seems to have developed a big interest in roller hockey, even though a plan for an outdoor hockey center was put off and The Wayne Gretzky Roller Hockey Center was constructed instead.

As a result, La Verne is home to the state of the art Wayne Gretzky's Roller Hockey Center. The La Verne Gretzky center is the most recent addition to these brand new indoor roller hockey facilities. The first Gretzky center opened a year ago in Irvine then San Marcos opened, followed by La Verne. The next one will open around Thanksgiving in Upland, followed by a center near Lancaster.

Gretzky, a National Hockey League all-star currently with the New York Rangers, was at the grand opening last summer for the give away, autograph signing, and the ribbon cutting for the center.

Gretzky's role in the organization is more than just promotional consideration. Even though he is not versed on the day to day activities of the company, he still plays a roll in the strategy and major decision making because he is a part owner of the Wayne Gretzky Roller Hockey Center.

The Gretzky center has two roller hockey rinks on the premises. Rink one is the largest of the two at 180' x 85'. The smaller rink two, which is mostly used for junior divisions and clubs is only 150' x 70'.

The facility offers professional-style sport court surface complete with dasher boards, team benches, penalty boxes, and an electronic scoreboard hanging in the middle of the rink. There are eight locker rooms and a team room for coaches and players. At the west end of the complex one can find a 99 Express Cafe and a top of the line retail store with roller blades, hockey sticks and team wear.

Retail Manager Jason Ferretti said, "We're totally (price) competitive as far as our pro shop. We go price shopping, price match and we have a repair center where we do skate mounting, riveting, wheel rotatio, and bearings."

The standard ice hockey rink is four feet longer than "the big one" at the Gretzky center. Instead of it being five on five, like it is in ice hockey, the roller hockey players play four versus four.

On Tuesday, Sept. 15., Bonita High School had there first practice for their roller hockey team at the Wayne Gretzky's Roller Hockey Center. Bonita is not the only high school in the area taking advantage of these brand new facilities.

"Most of the schools will be playing their games here during the year," said General Manager of the Gretzky Center Derek Martin. Martin also said that once the Upland center opens up that they would share in holding some high school league games as well. The two Gretzky centers in the area will be holding most of the high school games in the area for the next couple of years at the very least.

The center which is open year round has a new league start up every 13 weeks allowing them to have four seasons every year. One does not need to be a semi-professional roller hockey player to join in the fun at the Gretzky center. The center offers hockey skating instructions for all ages and ability level, from your weekend warrior to your club players. They have instructional, recreational and club league formats along with open pick-up games and public skating sessions which play music at various times of the day and week.

The center offers annual membership for $40 which gives you discounts on the pro shop, the Express Cafe, pick up games, camps and insurance coverage for one year.

If one were interested in joining in on the fun, recreational leagues are $139.99. The youth club and high school leagues are $1,250.

Jan Bosson from Pomona came in with her son to enroll him in the recreational league and said, "It's amazing, it's beautiful, but I would like to see it cost a little less."

Right now there is some talk about the city Claremont getting a rink for the public, "but until then we'll come here," said Bosson.

Martin said, "We're here to provide recreational activities for the youth in the community, as far as roller hockey."