Matt Burwell 2021 Follow Up: The Ice Rink

If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at Duke’s Diesel Repair, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!

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A Goal of 1997 Finally Being Fulfilled

By Alina Croft (Instagram: lina_gail, Twitter: alina_croft)

About a month or so ago, I published a feature about the roller hockey league in Elko. Well, now it has some room for competition and expansion! The Elko Igloo Recreational Center is in the process of adding an ice rink to its facility. 

How It Started

For Matt Burwell, President of the Igloo Recreational Center, adding an ice rink to the Igloo has been a dream of his for almost 25 years now! Matt became involved with the center in 1997 and has hoped to add this feature since. 

“The goal from day one was always to try to grow the sport in this town so we could someday make the transition from ice [from roller hockey],” Matt said. “Today is essentially that transition.”

Now, what does this mean for the roller skating rink? Is it being replaced? Nope! 

“We’re in the process of building an outdoor refrigerated ice rink,” Matt said. “Our current rink in the Igloo is a roller rink at this point, and that will remain.

“Part of the reason that we’re so excited about this is that there’s not a lot of competition opportunities for kids in roller hockey. Ice is growing so much, so there are just not many places to go and play [roller hockey] anymore. The kids will have an opportunity to be able to continue to play the game after they leave when they go off to college and so forth.”

Benefits To The Igloo And The Community

With only one rink available currently, there is quite the demand for its use between indoor winter soccer and the roller hockey league. This leaves even less room for the community to use for skating nights or more indoor sports that could use the space. The ice rink will benefit so many more than just those who are interested in ice hockey.

“Part of adding the rink is that the indoor soccer in the wintertime is pretty big,” said Matt. “There are lots of people who would like to continue to play or grow indoor soccer, but there’s not room. Soccer and hockey are essentially in each other’s way due to all the time slots being filled.

“When hockey moves out to the ice rink, then soccer will also be able to grow as a byproduct, which will be fantastic for us. We’re also going to start a curling league and have public skating, and figure skating, so on and so forth. It’s going to be something that is going to be a big recreation opportunity for Elko, especially in a time of year when there really isn’t much else to do.”

So How’s That Rink Coming Along?

That’s a little bit of a tough question, but here’s the answer and an explanation of why. 

“So, it’s a moving target,” Matt said. “Our goal is to try to be open for this winter, but that is absolutely going to be contingent upon our fundraising efforts which have been incredibly challenged during the pandemic. 

“The community is coming together on this; we’ve got countless contractors, suppliers, and vendors, and local businesses that are donating services, or equipment, or materials, or cash even. We’re making really, really good progress; the kicker is, there is a lot of money yet to be spent.”

Another fantastic example of our small town coming together to create something to better the community is I love to see it.

How Can We (Continue) To Help?

Mostly, it’s not heavy lifting to help out the rink. 

“The people coming together, and the feedback that we get, the positive reactions from people when they see this, especially when we post on social media, for example, people always have excellent things to say and lots of encouragement,” Matt said. “That stuff kind of fuels the group of us that are working on this. 

“We feed off of that energy. People are excited, and we get energy from that excitement. That helps keep pushing us forward.” 

But, there is some heavy lifting involved, sand moving, or other tasks that the community can show up for!

“The only thing that I would ask that we’re not already getting, but people are offering, and we’re going to do there’s going to be a lot of stages,” Matt said. “Especially this summer where we can have volunteer days and get lots of people to come in and help with step.

“When we do those, we’ll be looking to see big turnouts of people that will come out and help. Even if it’s just in small amounts, moving a little bit of sand or moving whatever the case may be.”

Were you looking for the perfect summer volunteering opportunity? A way to keep your teens out of trouble and to do something good for the community? You may have just found it.

And Finally…

Matt has lived in Elko longer than I (intern Alina) have even been alive. Doing so has shown him the heart of the community or the best it can offer.

“From time to time, you hear negative talk where people just don’t have anything good to say, and I couldn’t disagree more,” Matt said. “Elko is not some crappy little town; it is fantastic. I love this town! It has everything I could want, except for an ice rink, and we’re about to fix that. Once that’s done, it will have everything I could ever ask for.

“The people are fantastic; it’s a very blue-collar town… Everyone has a similar mentality, everyone has a similar, or it seems like, enjoyment of the outdoors and having a good time. That’s what’s great about this town. Those people, when something needs to be done in this town, those people put on their work boots, and they get to work, and they make it happen. The ice rink is a prime example of this phenomenon.”  

Matt has taken the time to enjoy and love Elko and hopes to see the community and his fellow Anthony Around Town-ers do the same. Maybe take some summer days and volunteer, maybe share the post from the Igloo’s social media! Just keep in mind how lovely our town is and all that it and its people have to offer. 

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Until next time, we’ll see you around, Elko!

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