Tania McCarthy has been skating for years and started her son on skates when he was only 4. Today Mike, now 13, and Tania have taken skating to a new level with their participation in a local speed skating club, Team Rainbo Inline Skate Team.
"Michael definitely loves the sport. It can be grueling and very intense," Tania says. "But it’s a great sport and, especially on our team, it’s for all levels. You can be outside and fit and active with your family."
While kids can start inline skating as young as 3, it’s up to parents to decide when their child is ready to begin, says Cale Carvell, founder and director of Team Rainbo. "If they want to do it, there’s no reason to stop them. There’s nothing better than learning it that young, because it becomes second nature."
Before hitting the race circuit, Carvell recommends parents buy their children skates designed specifically for speed skating. Both Rollerblade and K2 offer speed skates for all ages, as well as skates that are expandable up to four shoe sizes. When fitting skates, they should be snug because they tend to loosen with time and can cause blisters. Also, everyone skating (parents too) should wear helmets and wrist guards or hand protection.
To get kids started in skating, check out a local rink for inline speed skating programs. Once they’re competent skaters and want to go outdoors, families can begin to skate with Team Rainbo. Kids train with adults and often break into different groups by level to train. More experienced skaters are available to offer advice and to teach new skaters, Carvell says. Both parents and kids can compete in races throughout the Midwest, including everything from one-mile races to marathons.
"As with any sport, when you’re sharing something with your kids, it doesn’t get any better than that," Carvell says. "Most people, once they give it a shot, find out it’s really fun and when they go to the races, that’s infectious. You’ll be back for more."
For more information, visit www.teamrainbo.com.