Weekly Feature



2008-10-01 / Sports

Hunka named Amherst Skating Club director

Ryan Hunka Ryan Hunka The Amherst Skating Club has a new skating director.

After an extensive national search, the Club appointed Ryan Hunka from a talented pool of applicants.

"We are excited to have selected Ryan to assist us in offering the best possible skating experience for our club members," said ASC co-president Brandon Piasecki. "For the past 10 years, Amherst Skating has experienced tremendous growth. Formed in 1964 and prior to moving to the Pepsi Center in 1998, the Amherst Skating Club operated from September through March, with only a limited schedule. Our membership has grown and so have the complexities of running a year round club. The sport of figure skating is ever changing and we had a responsibility to our members to create a program that would allow our skaters to be successful. Ryan has a clear understanding of our needs."

The Amherst Skating Club has hosted major events such as the 1974, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2008 USFS North Atlantic Regional Championships and the 2000 Junior National Championships. They are home to basic skill skaters through national, junior national and world competitors.

"With all of our successes and growth, we felt it was time to take our club to the next level," said Piasecki. "Ryan will be able to move us into the international arena of training centers."

Hunka said what attracted him to Amherst Skating Club was the potential for growth and possibilities for many young children in the area.

"It is exciting to see the energy and desire to build a program in the area," said Hunka. "This is part of the reason why I decided to come here."

Hunka brings a wealth of experience to ASC in skating programming.

In the last 14 years, he has served as Director of Skating in several locations, including Brooklyn, N.Y. and Omaha, Neb. He recently served as Executive Director of Skating in the Netherlands and Belgium and has been integral in the development of several skating clubs around the US, introducing new events and shows, building financial stability and growth, and creating new programming.

He's taught skaters of all levels and ages, including national medalists and international skaters from all over the world and been executive producer and choreographer for many skating productions and tours and as part of TV productions and TV reality series.

Skating has been a part of his life since age 5.

"I was a very hyper child with a load of energy," said Hunka. "So, my mother put me on the ice one day and away I went. The only problem was that the first day I tried to be like the figure skaters on TV and tried to do a triple jump, I split my head open, got stitches and was back the very next week. I then progressed into competitive skating. I trained in Cleveland, Ohio with 1960 Olympic Champion Carol Heiss Jenkins and British Dance Champion Glyn Watts from the age of 8."

Hunka is a former two-time United States Champion (1990 US National Novice Champion; 1992 US National Junior Champion), a three-time World Junior Team member and international gold medalist for the US Figure Skating team. He's also been a principal performer for professional shows around the world and has nine plus years of show skating in a lead role.

Hunka said his goal for the Amherst Skating Club is to provide a team environment that is positive so that the club can help improve the existing skaters they have to the highest level possible.

"Although figure skating is not considered a "team" sport, all the pieces of a quality program require a team mentality to take it to a level with the kind of standards I hope to attain with the help of everyone involved," said Hunka.

In the coming year, Hunka said ASC will be in the growing stage with a lot of new kids entering the program.

"We have special events and opportunities throughout the year that will benefit any skater entering or a part of our program," said Hunka. "A huge highlight will be the Ice Extravaganza to be held in the spring. Details will come this winter, but it will be unlike anything this area has seen. All kids will have the chance to be a part of it. ASC will also be holding a summer camp for all ages and levels and already is getting interest from skaters in Europe to participate."

While he feels the possibilities are endless for recreational skaters, Hunka hopes he can help build a highly competitive training center and put Amherst Skating Club on the map as one of the premier skating clubs in the country.

Learn-to-Skate classes are forming. The ages for the program range from 3½ to adult.

"Kids receive attention by the instructors in a way that is much more personal than most programs," said Hunka. "Skaters will get a high quality program so that they can learn more and at a faster pace. The most important aspect is fun. It must be fun for anyone to learn."

For more information, visit www. AmherstSkatingClub. org.

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