Monday night the Altona Skating Club held its annual achievement night at Sunflower Gardens at the Millennium Exhibition Centre. The club’s members were dressed in costume along the theme of "Small Screen to the Big Stage", and were ready to show family and friends all they learned over the past season. 

Head Coach Kaitlyn Dyck says the club has grown significantly during her time, now reaching between 50 and 60 with the CanSkate program and this year 19 participants in the STARSkate program.

"I think it's the partnership with Altona Minor Hockey we implemented a couple of years ago," noted Dyck when asked what is driving that growth. "Both of our execs sat down, and we worked through what could it look like for the skaters of Altona, and how do we best equip them for on the ice and all the tools they need. From there, the numbers just keep growing, which is awesome."

The club has also been successful in having participants take on program assistant roles and become coaches.

"I could not do any of the CanSkate program without the girls, and to have them go away to university and then to come back and say hey, 'Now I wanna come coach in this club,; I think that's phenomenal, because they know the skaters, they get to work with them, and it's just such a reward seeing them this year how happy they are to be on the ice."

Left to right; Hailey Hutchinson and Braylee HildebrandLeft to right; Hailey Hutchinson and Braylee Hildebrand

Two of the skaters on the ice last night were 10 year old Braylee Hildebrand who has been skating for about seven years,  and 9 year old Hailey Hutchinson who has been with the club for about three years.

"It's fun and exercise," said Hutchinson when asked what she enjoys the most about skating. "Having friends and doing the same routines, too."

"It's fun and we're all friends getting to do jumps and stuff like that," added Hildebrand when asked the same question. 

So, what does it mean for the skaters to have a packed house to perform in front of?

"I think the skaters love it, just being able to show their friends and their family," said Dyck. "Mom and Dad are here every week, but to have grandma and grandpa, and their friends from school come out, is just something special. It's like, 'Look what I've achieved, look what I've worked toward over the year, and have everyone congratulate me,'. It's just a sense of pride and a sense of accomplishment, which is awesome, because then you see the smile on their faces, and they are so happy and so giddy all evening."

You can listen to CFAM Radio 950 Morning Show Host Chris Sumner's (who MC'd Monday night's event) conversation with Coach Kaitlyn Dyck and skaters Braylee Hildebrand and Hailey Hutchinson, below.