Every year, the RSA awards those members nominated and selected by the Honors Committee and Board of Directors to receive some of the highest accolades of the industry. RSA Life Member Awards, SRSTA Lifetime Achievement, Hall of Fame and Roller Skating Manufacturer Life Member Awards are all handed out with speeches by recipients at an invitation-only dinner in their honor. These remaining awards are again presented at the General Assembly in front of the entire membership present in each of their honor.
Jim Dvorak, RSA Hall of Fame Inductee
Jim Dvorak got his start in the roller skating industry over 40 years ago when he was recruited by Norman Traeger in October of 1980 where he worked in marketing and sales and then on to partner and CEO. His extensive experience in sales helped to ensure the success of their roller skating centers in the aftermath of the roller skating boom in the ‘80s. He has created a legacy by building and revitalizing roller skating rinks throughout the country which has now surpassed 21 roller skating centers (with more in the works) as part of the United Skates of America organization. They were the first to introduce roller blades, a novelty and redemption shop and hired the industry’s first risk management manager. They later went on to work with Lary Zucker to create what is now the Risk Management Guidelines that rink owners around the country use to this day.
While working at United Skates of America, Jim not only positively impacted his organization and communities throughout the country but has also worked with his dynamic team to develop many great programs that have been adopted throughout the entire industry - most importantly, the Roller Skating S.T.E.M. Field Trip Program.
The S.T.E.M. Field Trip Program is the most recent example of a program that has revolutionized the roller skating industry. A chance introduction with a college professor and a 1/4 million dollar investment helped to turn the program into a powerhouse educational system that provides lesson plans for teachers in grades K-12 by using roller skating and things that occur in the roller skating rink as the core subject. Skating rinks throughout the country have seen the value in this program, which is currently being utilized and taught in over 100 facilities with more added every year. The program has added millions of dollars in both revenue and profit to the industry. One skating center was able to book around 150 field trips in a school year and brought in nearly $200,000 in added revenue!
In addition, the S.T.E.M. Field Trip Program has introduced hundreds of thousands of children to the sport of roller skating that may otherwise have never had the opportunity to experience. Before the S.T.E.M. Field Trip Program, many of these skating centers were closed during day. Now, they are open daily with hundreds of children coming through their doors learning all about the joy of roller skating.
Jim Dvorak is not only an experienced and savvy business owner, but he is also a great business coach to his teams throughout the country. He has made an indelible impact on the United Skates of America executive team, as well as other roller skating rink owners and operators across the county, improving both their business acumen and passion for the industry. He has given many rink operators ideas on how to improve and maintain their facility, increase volume and profits and continues to mentor RSA members throughout the country. As a 40+ year multiple skating rink operator, Dvorak’s experience has provided considerably advantageous advice to other operators when they are facing difficulties with a variety of topics and continues to provide support whenever he can.
Jim Dvorak is an accomplished champion for the roller skating industry and his impact has been felt far and wide. It is with these contributions that he is most deserving of being inducted into the RSA Hall of Fame.
Jeff Ingrum, RSA Life Member
With over 40 years in the roller skating industry as a rink operator and serving the RSA as a chapter member in all positions of Section 4, Jeff Ingrum has devoted much of his life to the roller skating industry. At just five years old, Jeff was introduced to roller skating, taking private and artistic lessons when Bill and Gladys Kelly moved into town and bought the rink in Grand Island, NE. They lived down the street from Jeff’s family and quickly became friends with his parents. Upon graduation from college, the Kelly’s reached out to Jeff to see if he would like to be a part of their Skate City business.
At 22 years old, Jeff started as an employee of Skate City in Littleton, CO. At 25, he and his wife, Terri, became partners with Bill and Gladys Kelly. Today, they own seven roller skating rinks and one roller sports arena. He and Terri have three sons, Jason, Josh, and Jon.
Jeff goes above and beyond by sharing his rink knowledge and experience with fellow rink operators and members of the RSA community to see others be equally as successful. His passion for the sport, his insightful business acumen, and generosity led him to donate his organization, the Inline Hockey Association, in 2017 during the RSA Strategic Planning Meeting. This organization would serve as the bones for developing a new national sporting organization for the roller skating industry. In just five short years, this organization, now known as American Roller Sports, represents and promotes rink hockey, inline hockey, artistic, speed, style, and freestyle roller skating competitions which have grown to nearly 1300 competitors across the country.
In donating his organization, Jeff’s goal is to get roller skating in the Olympics. Having a worldwide stage where roller skating sports and athletes are celebrated will ultimately get the industry more exposure worldwide. His facilities got involved with inline hockey and, at one point, had 6,000 people in their facility. This energy encouraged them to build a state-of-the-art facility called the Xfinity Roller Sports Arena by Skate City where they often host skating competitions in all fields of roller skating sports. They even created a television production company to air the sports and provide busing for teams.
Involved in all aspects of the roller skating business, it is not unusual to see Jeff on the floor teaching classes, hockey, and even driving the buses. His work with the schools and communities in his area shines through consistently, where Skate City was named the Colorado PTA Business of the Year three times.
The Skate City staff says that Jeff wants them to provide their customers with the best service possible. His customers have always been his number one priority and are at the forefront of his mind in every decision made.
Jeff has demonstrated his passion and love for the industry for over 40 years, and it is because of this that he deservedly receives the prestigious RSA Life Membership Award.
Luther Bernstein, Bob Bollinger Lifetime Achievement Award
Luther Bernstein’s entire life has been built around his love for roller skating. Skating from the age of 11, he competed in his first nationals in 1957 and won the national championship for relay speed skating in 1964. He has taught leading champion roller skaters, built skating rinks, designed his own line of roller skates and sold countless skates and products through his e-commerce business.
His passion for the roller skating industry began with sports where he has coached several national champion artistic and speed skaters. Luther started as a roller skater himself, competing in speed skating, freestyle, dance and fours. In 1965, he began coaching quad speed skating on powder and had 4 first place winners the first year he started the dynasty of the Fort Worth Speed Club, which went on to become the Mid-City Speed Skater Club. In 1967, he got a job teaching roller skating in Australia that took 4 artistic skaters to the world meet in Spain. He was also the only western coach during an artistic championship in Taiwan in 1982.
He had a dream early on to build roller rinks for the community to enjoy and in 1973 his dream came true when he built Josey Skateland in Farmers Branch, TX, which he ran for 26 years. In 1981, he built Interskate Roller Rink in Lewisville, TX, which he continues to operate to this day. It is one of only two rinks in the United States with a bare wood floor. In total, Luther has built and operated 11 different roller rinks in the state of Texas. In the mid ‘80s, he began his venture with Chuck Kurp. Together, they were partners in his first two rinks, as well as owned Nova Skates where they developed the first package quad speed skate called the Nova Snapper.
In addition to developing and manufacturing his own line of roller skates (Epic Skates), he has successfully built several e-commerce businesses and a retail store called Skate Outlet that began in a separate building next to the skating rink. This is a 3000 sq. ft. facility that sold an incredible volume of skates. The store now temporarily operates out of Interskate Roller Rink after the highway department bought the property and tore half the building down. They are currently in the process of remodeling to get Skate Outlet re-opened again. He has traveled to China numerous times to learn the ins and outs of the roller skating manufacturing and design process, as well as to build relationships with roller sports manufacturers. His Epic Roller Skates were created for a new generation of roller skaters to begin the sport, which he sells on his own website, LowPriceSkates.com, as well as through numerous retail stores.
Luther has supported the roller derby community by having a large inventory of roller derby skates and equipment available to leagues around the Dallas/Fort Worth area, hosting many men’s and women’s roller derby bouts, as well as supporting derby skaters from around the world by shipping equipment directly to them through his e-commerce sites. He also started Golden Horse, a rental skate company, in which he manufactured and sold rental skates to roller rinks around the world. He would also purchase used rental skates and refurbish them for rink owners to purchase/use to supplement their inventory at an affordable rate. He started selling Skate Mates and Sika floor plastic over 10 years ago.
Today, Luther supports social skates locally by hosting annual social skating competitions for dance/jam skaters and has competitors from his rink attend local competitions around the area for over 40 years. He has attended RSA conventions for 52 years, as well as skating events and shows around the globe.
Luther’s entire life has been devoted to the roller skating industry and has been his sole career. It is for this lifelong commitment to the roller skating industry that he has deservedly been awarded the Bob Bollinger Lifetime Achievement Award.
Adrienne Van Houten, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
Adrienne Van Houten came to the roller skating industry in 2012 and took on the advocacy of the roller skating industry at numerous levels during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
On a local level, she coordinated with her city government officials to provide her with the support needed to contact and work with the County representatives. She also worked with her State Representatives and Congresspersons to garner their support with the Governor’s office.
Adrienne was instrumental in writing the California Skating Centers Covid-19 report. This report was crucial to the re-opening of California skating centers and eventually became the Roller Skating Association Background and Readiness Report that was used throughout the country to effect change.
During the over one year of closure for Moonlight Rollerway, Adrienne was actively keeping their social media engaged, growing their Instagram account to over 15,000 followers, to keep up the name of Moonlight and the activity of roller skating. Despite the shortage of roller skates throughout the country, Adrienne traveled across the state multiple times to bring in inventory for the pro shop keeping some income coming into the rink.
While serving as the Vice President of Section 2, Adrienne kept members abreast of all grant and loan opportunities, as well as any offerings of PPE and supplies on a state and local level.
Although she is no longer a section officer, she is currently a member of the social media committee, working under Scott Salter, and has created an Instagram account for Kids Skate Free and regularly posts on the RSA Instagram. She is a past member of the membership committee and has visited new rinks in the area to encourage them to join the RSA. In addition, she has sat in on the National Museum of Roller Skating Board meetings and has assisted the former curator with their website and marketing.
In 2019, Adrienne received the Heart of the Industry award because of her contributions to Moonlight Rollerway, Section 2, and the roller skating industry as a whole. Now in 2022, she is being honored as an Attaway recipient for her hard work and dedication to re-opening not only Moonlight Rollerway, but all of the California Skating Centers.
Alan Bacon, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
In 1953, the year Alan Bacon was born, his parents built and began operating the skating rink he now owns. Alan has been involved in roller skating his entire life. He took over ownership of his family’s skating center in 1977, and his wife Judy joined him in 1986.
Alan has been coming to RSA conventions since 1978, but became more active about 10 years ago when he became a member of two RSA committees and a section officer. For the last three years, Alan has served as Section 1 director.
During the pandemic, Alan enjoyed connecting with section members and discussing the challenges the pandemic brought. He says that he received great value in exchanging the experiences of their region with others in similar circumstances during the RSA’s Wednesday Town Hall Meetings.
The state of Washington was sadly closed for an extended period of time during the pandemic. He found that, in working with other section officers, they were able to exchange information on how their rinks could open as fitness centers as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
Passionate about history, Alan shared that while his occupation is that of a roller rink operator, his hobby is roller skating history. Ten years ago, he became involved with the National Museum of Roller Skating and currently serves as treasurer. Alan’s love of roller skating history has been shared at the museum, section meetings, conventions, in articles that he has written for RSA publications - Rinksider & Roller Skating Business Magazines, RSA Today Newsletter and through the Museum’s regular enewsletter that he writes and produces for members.
Alan says that he has always enjoyed writing about a rink’s history and the family that made it happen. This passion for preserving history will live on through his efforts to share these stories.
This year, Alan will be proudly receiving his RSA 45-year pin at this year’s Roller Skating Association Convention. “I’m proud to have spent a lifetime in this great industry.”
It is for Alan’s passion for preserving history and working for members throughout the pandemic that he has been awarded with the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
Bobby Bentley, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Awards
Robert “Bobby” Bentley put on his first pair of skates in 1970 at the age of 10, started working in the skate room at Holiday Skate Center in Birmingham, Alabama in 1974, became a rink manager at 17, and a general/promotional sales manager for five rinks by the age of 20. By 2015, Bentley had purchased nine roller skating centers, including his first skating center, Funtime Skate Center in Fultondale, Alabama, at the age of 24. He went on to purchase Valley Skate Center in 1985 and Starlite Skate Center in 1988. In 1996, he built his first rink, Roller Motion, from the ground up. In 2004, Bentley expanded his vision when he purchased Dreamland Skate Center in Pensacola, Florida, Hotwheels Skate Center in Atlanta, Georgia in 2006, Sk8ters Paradise (then called Skaters Choice of Kentucky) in Somerset, Kentucky in 2010 and Skaters Choice of Panama City in 2011. In 2015, he opened Jamz Skate Center in Fairfield, Alabama.
Bobby has been involved in the operations and building of roller skating centers across the country, as well as worked on more than 250 skating floors as a contractor and consultant.
In 1978, Bentley joined the Roller Skating Association and has since served as secretary, treasurer, vice president and president of section 8 from 1983-2011, vice president of section 13 from 2013-2014 and at-large director from 2011-2012. In 2012, he won the Victor J. Brown Rink Operator of the Year award. In 2014-2016 Bentley was elected to serve as RSA President. In 2019, he was awarded the honor of the RSA Life Membership. He continues to offer his time and expertise to multiple committees in the Association, and serves as president of Kids Skate Free and is the president of the American Roller Sports organization.
His accomplishments while serving as RSA president included building partnerships, focusing on educational programs, ensuring transparency throughout the Association, generating an exclusive STEM program licensing agreement, and leading the acquisition of Kids Skate Free, Sk8Expo and KSF insurance. He expanded marketing initiatives with Olive Garden, Kahlua, Lance/Snyder and Nickelodeon, as well as produced commercials for member use, updated the Industry Guide, organized mega meetings, secured a new JBL Trinity Insurance Contract and much more.
Throughout the pandemic, Bobby communicated with local and state legislators and shared his advice and conversations with members. In addition, he selflessly stepped up to produce thousands of Covid-19 safety banners and social distancing floor decals at cost to RSA members. These efforts created a ripple effect throughout the family entertainment industry as many other businesses throughout the country then utilized these exclusive RSA materials in their facilities to protect their own businesses and customers.
It is for his contributions to the industry, roller skating sports and his contributions during the pandemic that he has been honored with the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
Brad Armstrong, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
Brad Armstrong has been a member of the Roller Skating Association for over 30 years and began working in the roller skating industry tucking in skates for free at just 9 years old at King’s Skate Country in Sacramento, CA. From there, he went on to work for the owner, Mr. King, from the ages of 15-22. He was offered the position of manager at the King’s Skate Country in Reno, NV where he worked for 7 years and then went on to work as a DJ for a year. His love of the business encouraged him to make the leap to purchase King’s Skate Country in Reno, now named Roller Kingdom, in 1999. In 2010, he purchased King’s Skate Country in Sacramento, now named The Rink, with his business partner and longtime friend, Alex. In 2019, he purchased the Top Gun Skate Center.
A member of the RSA for 35 years, Brad has served as an officer for his section for the last two years and has been awarded with the President’s Award for his generosity and accommodations during the RSA Convention. He currently serves on the Marketing Committee and is looking forward to being more involved in the progress of the RSA and the roller skating industry.
Brad is a staple in his community and is often recognized when he goes out for his viral video that took the Internet by storm several years ago. He has won awards from Job Corps for community involvement, the Boys and Girls Club and local parks and recreation programs. His facility is listed on the Safe Place registry, and he is regularly in communication with the Children’s Cabinet.
During the pandemic, he used the downtime at both rinks to replace the skate surface – one with press board and the other with maple. He also added new carpet in the Sacramento rink and is now 100% sole owner of their arcade games. He is always sourcing new ways to make the rinks better, sourcing a lot of things on the used market to help give his rink a new, refreshed, and updated look.
In an effort to help is fellow rink operators during the pandemic, Brad worked a lot with his local health department to get their rinks re-opened. He participated in Town Hall Meetings, updating members on his communications and was recently able to work to get grants and the employee retention credit for all of his businesses, which have helped tremendously.
It is for Brad’s contributions to his community, the roller skating industry and to fellow members during the pandemic that he has been honored with the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
Charlene Conway, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
Charlene began her love for skating in 1961 while attending a Girl Scout event at Roll-land in Norwood, MA. The skating bug bit and she joined the Saturday class program and gradually moved up the ladder to the Junior and Senior Club level participating in the achievement test program that the skating center offered. Passing her Gold Medal in American Dance Skating is one of her proudest achievements. She began competing in the early ‘70s and continued through ‘81 at the regional and national level. During this time, she became a Proficiency Test Judge and still presently holds all 4’s in every discipline.
In 1981, an opportunity became available to turn professional and teach at a new skating facility. She then joined the RSROA and became an SRSTA teacher and USAC coach and judge and still is today. She has had many accomplished skaters win at the Regional and National Championships.
Charlene has enjoyed the opportunity to become involved in every aspect of the roller skating business and helped create a roller skating program for the Special Olympics in the late ‘80s.
In 1992, Charlene and her husband, Robert, purchased a foreclosed roller skating center in Fairhaven, MA. It’s there that they opened the Carousel Skating Center, now known as the Carousel Family Fun Center. Now a rink operator and business owner, she became very involved with Section 10 and has held offices of secretary, treasurer, vice president, president and then moving on to be an at-large director for several years on the RSA Board of Directors, as well as serving as section director.
In 2004, Charlene and Robert opened a second facility in Whitman, MA, which they are currently still operating.
Though their businesses were closed, the time didn’t go to waste. Charlene happily sold her first facility and focused and remodeled their present one with new lights, sound system and carpeting, as well as freshening up the interior and exterior of the building. She worked daily to keep in touch with their loyal customers through social media to stay fresh in their minds. With much joyfulness, they survived and look forward to a profitable year.
Charlene has received many awards throughout the years from the RSA, as well as local communities. Her proudest moment, however, was being awarded the Roller Skating Rink Operator of the Year Award and now the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
During the pandemic, Charlene became very involved locally to fight state legislation and restrictions and organized a national fundraising campaign to raise funds to do so. She also solicited members from other industries to join forces to keep their businesses open. She worked alongside Section 10 Director, Rob Gould, to organize such efforts and to help fellow operators keep up to date with the many changes and challenges along the way. It is for these efforts that she has deservedly been awarded with the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
Chris Griffith, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
Chris Griffith’s love of roller skating began at the young age of five that ultimately led him to earn the title of National Champion Artistic Skater. His love of the roller skating business ignited as he worked as a floor guard for United Skates in Wickliffe, Ohio and Rollerdrome in Euclid, Ohio and later to rink manager and owner for the past 26 years.
Chris served in the U.S. Navy from 1986-1990 and transitioned from the Navy in Jacksonville, Florida into the coaching ranks where he became a judge and meet director, as well as a National Champion Coach and the National SRSTA Vice President. He began working in management with Skate Station Funworks of North Florida. In 2004, the opportunity presented itself in Sumter, SC to become an operator alongside his wife, Tammy Griffith, which they have owned for the past 18 years.
Together, Chris and Tammy have three children, CJ, Jonathan and Jessica, who have all grown up in the rink business and have become integral parts of their company. Additionally, Jonathan has 100 million+ social media views of combining his high school and college football talents with roller skating that appeared on various social media platforms including TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, ESPN, Barstool Sports, Overtime and USA Today.
Chris has had more than 13 years of service as a former RSA Board Director and Section 13 President. He served on numerous RSA committees and served as chairperson of Convention, Risk Management, Chapter Affairs, Policy and Procedures, Achievement/Coaches, as well as serving as an RSA Board Executive Committee Member and an inaugural RSA Kids Skate Free Board Member. In 2017, he was awarded the RSA’s Rink Operator of the Year Award. In 2020-2021, he served as president of the South Carolina Roller Rink Operators to assist fellow rink owners navigate through the pandemic. As a conduit to the governor’s office of South Carolina, he was able to represent the voice of roller rink operators in the state. With the resources provided by the RSA, he was able to find the path to present a plan of readiness and compliance to conform to the Governor’s mandates. This proved to be beneficial as they were only limited to a nine-week shutdown while many other industries were not afforded the opportunity to reopen at the time.
Chris attributes much of his success as a leader in the industry to the mentorship he received from RSA leaders, Rock Allman and Melvyn Wallace and has visited more than 200+ roller skating rinks throughout the country to learn more about how to improve his business. “I attribute much of my business sustainability these past two years to the RSA and our membership. Our ability and willingness to effectively communicate allowed my business to navigate the minefield of the shutdown, reopening, and learning a different way of conducting business today. For many of us, we are now better positioned than prior to the pandemic.”
It is for these efforts and passion for helping the roller skating industry and fellow rink owners and operators that Chris has been deservedly awarded the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
Denise Watkins, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
Denise Watkins is Chief Fun Officer at Sky-Vue Skateland in Rocky Mount, NC. She and her brother, David Holder, are second generation owner/operators of this local icon built in 1958 by their father. A comment often heard from a former skater when they bring their child to skate is, “Mrs. Denise, this makes me feel old.” Third and fourth generations are currently skating with her most weekends.
Teaching beginners how to skate is her forte as she shares the love of the sport. Helping skaters achieve confidence in their skills is most rewarding to her. Denise believes bringing children, youth, and families together for quality time is crucial in today’s culture. Each session is showtime and entertaining her guests on the skating floor is top priority.
Denise didn’t plan to return to Sky-Vue after college. She spent several years teaching high school physical education and coaching girls sports. Because Mr. and Mrs. Holder were aging, she felt the need to return to the family business. Denise says, “It’s been a great privilege to carry on my father’s legacy. It is special to be a part of these young people’s lives and help them create memories that last a lifetime. We know this is true as former skaters continue to share their memories with us.”
Denise values networking with other rink operators. During the Covid 19 pandemic she monitored the Governor’s press conferences to keep other North Carolina operators informed. She consistently called and emailed the Governor’s office to request that rinks be allowed to stay open for skating. The rink operators succeeded in having a conference call with Dr. Cohen’s office pleading their case for opening their businesses. She arranged visits to six rinks, encouraged members to look into the NC Small Business Center’s free online webinars, set up Zoom meetings, created the Section 12 Facebook group to connect rink operators and update the page with state and health department news, organized training opportunities, went to the legislative building in Raleigh, NC and met with representatives and senators. Denise also sent numerous emails to the governor and NCDHHS, updated North Carolina members on grants and pandemic relief opportunities, was featured on local radio and television, listened in on Senate meetings and updated members on how their representatives voted, encouraged members to reach out to local leaders and even facilitating a meeting with a senator during a rink visit.
In addition, she called and emailed every rink in the state, educating unaffiliated rink owners on the benefits of the RSA and convincing them of the importance of joining. She has revived rink owners who hadn’t participated in the RSA and many have said they wouldn’t have met or learned what they have were it not for her efforts and persistence.
Denise is a member of the Society of Roller Skating Teachers of America. She has served as Secretary and Vice President in Section 12 of the RSA and is an exemplary member of the RSA. It is because of her commitment to the RSA and the roller skating industry that she has been awarded with the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
Jeff and Ava Couey, Victor J. Brown Operator of the Year Award
Jeff Couey grew up in the roller skating business when his parents, Albert and Leita Couey, purchased their first skating center in 1959. By the ‘80s, the family owned 13 locations in Georgia and Tennessee. Jeff worked alongside his family and stayed in the business throughout his career, purchasing his first skating center from his parents in 1981 and inheriting another in 2001. In 1999, he married Ava, who had grown up skating at one of the Couey’s rinks. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Sparkles have two centers in the Atlanta area in Hiram and Kennesaw.
The Couey’s are known for coming up with game-changing ideas for their skating centers, including Sip and Skate events for adults and several large skating events that bring in customers from around the country. Marketing is something the Couey’s know well, focusing heavily on TV ads, spots on screens in movie theatres, social media, promoting their new “Free Skate Day” for middle schools, summer camps, and the famous Skate Car that they take to parades and other events around town. They are constantly improving their facilities by investing a considerable amount of time and money both beautifying and thinking of new and innovative ideas to bring the best cafe items, technology, new attractions and more to their beautiful facilities. Whether it’s ripping out carpet, installing new lighting, kiosks or touchless systems, or creating brand-new programs, they continue to remain up-to-date on what their customers want.
The Roller Skating Ambassador Program was introduced to RSA members, giving others the encouragement to capture customers who are passionate about roller skating and learning how to roller skate. This consistent promotion and encouragement works to keep their skating center front-of-mind with their customer base. A quick search of roller skating videos or in roller skating groups on social media and you’ll always find skaters being ambassadors for their Sparkles Skating Centers. For example, their USA Shuffle Skaters Facebook Group, created in 2016, has nearly 23,000 members.
The Couey’s and their team are regularly hosting other roller skating rink owners in their facility to show them cutting edge advancements they have made to help them improve their own businesses, as well as regularly speak at the RSA National Convention to share their own successes. Jeff is the first longest serving president of the Roller Skating Association and traveled countless hours across the country motivating operators and encouraging their participation in the RSA. He also introduced numerous money-saving programs to members. Ava currently serves as a board member on both the Roller Skating Foundation and the Roller Skating Association for Section 12 and consistently sits on and chairs committees for the benefit of the members and their local section.
It is for this lifelong commitment and continued innovation in the industry that Ava and Jeff are being honored with the 2022 Victor J. Brown Operator of the Year Award.
Jerry Landers, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
Jerry Landers has become an indelible asset to the roller skating industry where he provides his expertise to members through regular risk management seminars both online and at events, as well as representing members throughout the country to protect their businesses.
Jerry has practiced law since 1984 and has his office in Marietta, Georgia. He received his undergraduate degree in history in 1981 from the University of Georgia and his Juris Doctorate from Emory University in 1984. His law practice is trial oriented with concentrations in probate and estate litigation and administration and leisure defense (primarily skating rinks, bowling alleys, etc).
Jerry is a frequent speaker and presenter at Probate and Estate Administration seminars and also in various amusement and leisure industry settings across the country.
An instrumental force in the roller skating industry, Jerry authored and obtained passage of the Georgia “Roller Skating Safety Act of 1993” which is the assumption of risk statute in Georgia that serves to protect roller skating business owners in the state.
A regular speaker and presenter on the weekly RSA Townhall meetings and at RSA events throughout the country, his expertise has saved rink owners countless hours and dollars teaching them how to protect their businesses and their customers.
Jerry is a Past President and a member of the Board of Directors of IALDA, the International Amusement and Leisure Defense Association and has made the entertainment industry his life-long passion.
During the pandemic, Jerry provided members with countless hours of education on how to protect their businesses, connect with their local legislators and work to keep their customers safe. It is with this passion for the roller skating and entertainment industry that Jerry has been awarded with the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
Kim and Connie Eisenzimmer, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
Kim’s parents started in the roller skating industry in Kennewick, WA in 1939, and later moved to Yakima and re-opened a skating rink there. His mother and grandmother operated the rink during WWII while Kim’s father served in the army. After the war, Kim’s parents bought the property for their current facility, which they built from the ground up and opened on July 16, 1948. Kim started working for his parents at the age of 10. After his father had an extended hospitalization following a car accident, Kim left Junior College and stepped in to operate the rink full time. He took over full management of Skateland in 1976 and later purchased the rink in 1980. Connie skated in her youth, and met Kim at Skateland in 1992, marrying in 1993. Connie was actively working as a realtor where she received the “Rookie of the Year” and “Multi-Million Dollar Producer” awards. She later put her realtor’s license on ice to join Kim full time at Skateland.
Together, they headed up a major remodel, adding 2600 sq. ft. and a complete update of the building. In 2014, Connie added the “Vine Venue”, a mid-century modern event center separate but attached to the rink, to host large events. It includes a complete patio, grassy area and small vineyard making it a beautiful backdrop for photos. Skateland is the oldest skate center in the Northwest which is still owned and operated by the original family.
Connie still continues to utilize her commercial real estate knowledge by leasing part of their property to UPS and AT&T. Both Kim and Connie served on the board of the Yakima Enological Society, while Connie continues to serve on the board of the Yakima chapter of the Salvation Army. Together, they perform for special events, wineries and restaurants in their jazz band, KCJ Jazz Company.
Always ready to work hard for their fellow RSA members, Kim previously received the Heart of the Industry Award and served as Washington state’s RSROA President, as well as Section 1 President. During the closures due to the pandemic, they shared whatever information they could with other rink operators and small business owners to help them successfully navigate through the pandemic, in addition to completing a full update of the facility during their 11 months of closure.
It is for their decades long devotion to the roller skating industry and their support of their fellow RSA members that they have been deservedly awarded with the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
Mark Oliver, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
Mark Oliver is a third generation rink operator whose grandparents had roller skating centers in the ‘50s. His mom and dad met at the skating rink owned by his mother’s parents in Adrian, MI. His grandfather decided to sell the rink and go into manufacturing where he became the inventor of the Minute Man Toe Stop as skates at that time did not have toe stops. He later went on to develop the frames for plates with toe stops. Rink owners around the country saw this as a way make extra money by converting their skates over to comply with new requirements that began in skating rinks.
Mark majored in business at Ferris State University and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps for four years. He was then a general manager of a warranty repair shop in Florida. In 1985, his parents decided they wanted to get back into the roller skating industry and decided to build Allskate in Jackson, MI. Mark saw an opportunity to get back into the roller skating industry and to be closer to family, so he moved back to Michigan where he and his sister currently operate the business. He fell in love with the industry and has been involved ever since.
Mark created a roller hockey league for three different age groups with 132 kids involved, as well as coached speed skating. Their rink currently utilizes the Kids Skate Free program and explained that the STEM Program is not a cost burden as they get so much out of the program. He shared that the United Skates of America team has taught him so much more than just about how to run a successful STEM program. “They’re a great resource to be involved with,” he says.
Mark served as section secretary and president, and currently serves on the RSA Board of Directors representing Section 6.
During the pandemic, he held a sign and drive campaign. At over 10 signatures a minute, the goal was to forge a change in the government that gave the governor the amount of power that she had to keep businesses closed for such a long period of time without approval from the state congress. He worked with Danny Brown, Patriots for Jackson County, and Michigan State Representative, Julie Alexander, to connect him with people to get the word out. He participated in virtual Michigan congressional meetings that included roller skating, bowling alleys and gyms while they were shut down, as well as the RSA Town Hall Meetings to update members. He credit’s RSA Executive Director, Jim McMahon, in helping him and the rinks in Michigan learn what they did about how state and local government operates.
It is for Mark’s passion for the industry and his contributions during the pandemic that he has been awarded with the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
Nick Champa, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
Nick Champa is a third generation rink operator who started skating about the time he started walking. A skilled skater for most of his life, he started speed skating at just 8 years old. He graduated from Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, KY.
Nick skated for several speed teams in Louisville, KY, Des Moines, IA, Cincinnati, OH and Tampa, FL. His hard work paid off by winning a National Championship in 1989 and the following year, earning a place on the 1990 World Team and retiring shortly thereafter. Nick’s experience wasn’t just limited to professional skating. He worked in rinks in the same cities he skated while learning from legendary roller skating families, John, Ramona and Mark Muse, Des Moines, IA, and Iley and Marie Hinton, Tampa Fl, before settling down in the family business in Lexington, KY.
After 30+ years of retirement, Nick strapped on his skates and began competing again. Nick is active with his grandchildren’s speed skating development and coaching Kentucky Speed Team.
Passionate about the sport, Nick became involved with the RSA during the formation of the competitive speed program with the American Roller Sports organization, serving on the Board of Directors for a few years. Nick received the RSA Rink Operator of the Year award in 2018 and has been active in many facets within the RSA.
Throughout the pandemic, Nick played a vital role in working with Federal, State and Local Legislators to help get skating rinks in Kentucky re-opened and communicated his efforts every week with RSA members during the Town Hall Meetings. He amassed a sizable contact list that continues to provide members with the help that they need.
Nick was also instrumental in getting ICandy devices in skating centers throughout the country. This device worked to detect customers with an elevated temperature to avoid a Covid outbreak in the rink.
Seeking a way to pivot during the pandemic, Nick invested countless hours, education, and dollars to develop a state-licensed child care facility located inside of a skating rink. This move ensures that, even if there is another pandemic, their business will provide an important service to frontline workers in their area and a sustainable source of income for their business. Always one to help a fellow rink operator, Nick shared his journey during the RSA Town Hall Meetings throughout the entire process.
Fun Fact: Nick's grandfather, Armand, was also a recipient of the RSROA Rink Operator of the Year Award in 1968.
It is with Nick’s passion for the industry and his incredible efforts to both help and educate members throughout the pandemic that he has been awarded with the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
Phil Smalley, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
Phil Smalley’s passion for roller skating began young when his parents laced him up with his first pair of skates at just 11 months old. He went on to compete in championships as a skilled artistic skater with the highlight of his competitive skating career being a member of the 1976 World Artistic Team competing in Rome, Italy.
Phil started working in a skating rink at just 12 years old and worked his way up through various jobs in the rink. After his retirement from competitive skating, he was a coach for six years before getting into the business side of the rink.
He and his wife, Susie, will be celebrating their 30th anniversary of owning their skating center, Skateland-Rockford, on July 15, 2022. During the pandemic, they took the opportunity to revitalize the entire inside of the building with a fresh coat of paint and made several changes to the way they operated their business. “One of the things the restriction taught us was that we could still operate our business at a lower capacity limit and still turn a profit.”
It was during one of the weekly townhall meetings that RSA President, Cort Wahlig, said that members needed to get their state organizations going again since every state was handling the pandemic in a completely different manner. Having grown up with Cort’s father, Phil took it as a personal challenge and reached out to RSA Executive Director, Jim McMahon, to see who was handling organizing the state of Illinois. Phil stepped up to organize their state and began creating Zoom meetings for RSA members, keeping everyone informed of what was happening, including details about the Payroll Protection Program and grants being offered by the state. Together, he and Susie reached out to a local congressman for help, who then put them in touch with the organization in charge of handling setting up phases of how, when and which businesses would reopen in Illinois. They soon learned that roller skating rinks would not be allowed to open until the state was back to normal. With the help of Jim and Cort (and a considerable amount of emails to his contact), they were able to get skating rinks reopened in Phase 4 instead of Phase 5. This feat ensured that Illinois roller skating rinks were only closed for 6 months as opposed to the 14 months that would have been required of Phase 5.
Phil’s passion for the industry and hard work helped every roller skating rink in the state of Illinois and it is for these efforts that he has been awarded the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.
Rob Gould, Heart of the Industry Award
Rob Gould is the owner of Interskate 91 South, located in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, as well as the RSA Section 10 Director.
During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and all of it’s uncertainties, Rob worked tirelessly to support his section members and the roller skating industry. As a new owner himself, Rob had a whole host of issues to contend with, but still managed to engage in a meaningful fashion to try and navigate the laws, restrictions and mandates set by Massachusetts and surrounding states.
Throughout the pandemic, businesses across the country were shuttered, including every roller skating center in Massachusetts. Rob coordinated numerous calls and strategy discussions to try and eliminate or mitigate restrictions and creating alliances with other business categories, including arcades, trampoline and bounce facilities. There were countless hours of research and follow-ups where Rob worked to put forth the needs of roller skating centers, best ensuring they were not forgotten by law makers and government officials.
Rob continued to stay in contact with legal teams and supporters throughout the course of the pandemic, even after roller skating centers were reopened. Through his tireless efforts, roller skating centers are better poised to combat any new potential mandates that may occur in the future. He has been an outstanding leader, showing dedication and commitment to help peers. He is an exemplary representation of both his section and the roller skating industry. Not only a strong business mind, he has been an avid competitive speed skater, coach and all around supporter of the industry.
It is for this dedication and heart-felt passion for the sport, his customers, his fellow rink operators and family that he has been deservedly awarded the 2022 Heart of the Industry Award.
Sonny Grenier, Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award
Sonny Grenier began skating after receiving a free introductory skating lesson pass at Skate Palace in Oxnard, California. That free pass started a long competitive skating career and a job at the rink at the age of 13, working for rink operators Jim and Linda Hunter. After being put with a new skating partner, Pam Dixon, they went on to become National Champions in American Sophomore Dance and Junior Dance under coach Bob Labriola. Sonny and Pam were married after their competitive skating career, and they now have two sons Chad and Cameron and 2 granddaughters Alyx and Raeleigh.
Sonny has operated Skating Plus in Ventura, California since 1979. He served as Section 2 Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and as President for a total of 5 terms. Sonny served on the RSA Board of Directors for 8 years as both an at-large director and two terms as Section 2 Director. He served on the Marketing Committee for several years and was Marketing Chairperson for 4 years. He also served on the Executive Committee for 3 years.
During the pandemic, California rinks were completely closed for 13 months. After seeing that skating rinks were not list on the California re-opening plans, Sonny went to work with other chapter board members to raise funds from rink operators so they could hire a lobbyist/lawyer in the state capitol of Sacramento to get put on the map and be recognized. Rinks were able to open in May of 2021 at limited capacity and they are now at 100% capacity. Sonny’s hard work paid off and his rink is doing better than ever setting all time sales records!
Sonny and Pam care very much about their community. They have co-chaired Ventura County’s largest charity event for many years. The Casa Pacifica Wine, Food and Brew Festival has raised millions of dollars for abused, neglected and at-risk children. Sonny recently received the Seraphim Award for his volunteer work with Casa Pacifica.
A fun fact about Sonny: As a fun side job, he was on a talent team for many years working on televised award shows and specials. During this time, he got to work with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry on some of the biggest award shows on television, including the American Music Awards for 15 years.
Sonny continues to be fully involved at the rink working alongside his son, Cameron, who has become much more involved in the business which makes him very happy.
Sonny’s hard work and efforts to help the roller skating rinks in California, along with his passion for the industry, has earned him the Al Kish Attaway Special Service Award.