The sound of rollerblades careening around the rink, along with random hoots and a few claps, filled the air at 3 Positiva in San Juan Capistrano on Wednesday evening.
Located behind Kinoshita and Marco Forster schools, the sparse SJC Sports Rink is now home to a local roller hockey team, the SJC Nightmare. The rink's work-in-progress look might throw off passerby, but to local players, it's a godsend.
“This rink is pretty raw right now, but I think it will be nice,” said SJC Nightmare Coach Chris Connole. “The next-closest roller rink we have is Irvine ... [but] it’s expensive to drive all the way to Irvine if you live down here.”
A small collective of roller hockey newbies and seasoned vets make up the club and travel teams. Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, SJC Sports Rink hosts three-hour team practices for kids and adults.
“I skate everyday,” said Michael Schwartz, SJC Sports Rink's manager. “You get addicted to it. It’s a healthy activity that involves finesse, skill and it’s physically challenging. It’s like football on wheels.”
Schwartz’s commitment to rebuilding the rink began when he took ownership on June 5.
“We’re working on getting soccer teams to play here. Lacrosse programs also run here,” said Schwartz. “We will be the only rink that is an official National Hockey League roller hockey rink size.”
With brand new boards and glass sitting on the ground waiting to be installed, Schwartz is seeking a city permit for improvements.
As sweaty kids emerged from the rink, they talked about wanting to play more teams, grumbled about their moves or waited anxiously for their signal to take to the rink.
“We want to start a youth hockey game,” said Connole. “I want to bring more kids to the game. It’s all about the kids having fun.”