In life, you crawl before you can walk. In ice hockey, you’ve got to skate before you can play.
For years, the Fort Dupont Ice Arena in Washington, D.C., has helped transform kids from clumsy, crawling novices to confident skaters. Some grow confident enough to take the next step and join the Fort Dupont Cannons, the nation’s oldest minority-oriented youth hockey program run by longtime Head Coach Neal Henderson.
Fort Dupont and its free Learn to Skate program, a magnet for families of all stripes in the District-Maryland-Virginia area, was featured recently in a profile aired during NBC’s telecast of the 2015 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, N.C.
Prudential recently awarded the Kids on Ice $10,000, which will be used to help enhance and expand its synchronized skating program. Part of the funds will be used to send the synchronized team to Hershey, Pa., next month for its first-ever competition.
From the outside, the Fort Dupont rink doesn’t look like much – a non-descript 1970s-style structure in Southeast Washington. But the rink is one of Washington’s gems. It’s the only indoor skating facility in the District, more often than not has the fastest sheet of ice in he District-Virginia-Maryland area, and offers the most stunning views of Capitol Hill in the city.
One of the few ice rinks in America located in a mostly-minority community, Fort Dupont serves beyond its neighborhood boundaries. Several of the District’s private and Catholic school hockey programs call the rink home, as do several area colleges and universities. Law enforcement hockey teams, from D.C.’s police department to the U.S. Secret Service, have also practiced and played at the rink.