In and around Hooville: The Jefferson Center Roller Skating Rink

Skating into a new semester

Sometimes we all need a few hours of free roller skating in our lives. Right down 4th St., the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation department provides for that, for five hours on Fridays and Sundays.

I belong to a Madison House organization called Bridging the Gap, which connects U.Va. student mentors with young refugee Charlottesville student mentees. Usually, my mentee and I have lunch with her third grade class on Mondays, where I’ve been asked, and I quote, “You’re twenty? Where’s your baby?” and “Do you have a bedtime? Because if you don’t, you’re an adult.” Both sporting unshakeable logic.

Spending time with third graders is oddly therapeutic. They don’t stress about finals or interviews or internships or formal dates. They genuinely worry about whether or not touching Amyra’s headband will turn you evil or if Zalen’s cooties are contagious. Third grade problems are fun and whimsical and put my college stressors into much-needed perspective.

But for the end of the semester, we decided to mix things up and visit the Carver Recreation Center, which is part of the Jefferson School City Center. It’s about a five minute walk to the Downtown Mall and a five minute drive from the Corner. The center offer a fitness center with cardiovascular and strength training equipment; drop-in fitness classes like spinning and zumba; personal training; a gymnasium, recreational studios for arts and crafts, gymnastics, and dance; a free hi-tech Teen Center; and 600 art, enrichment, fitness, dance, and gymnastics classes, according to its website. They also host free roller-skating in one of their gyms, which we clearly took advantage of.

We skated for about an hour and a half to a medley of pop and ‘80s music — needless to say, I fell more than once. Kids and adults alike were happy to show us how to move our feet, how to stand and how to brace ourselves for inevitable falls. One 6-year-old and I got into a pretty heated conversation about his Pokemon Go progress, and a 10-year-old girl grabbed my hand for a trip around the makeshift rink.

What I found most compelling about the Carver Rec Center was the rare opportunity to engage with members of the Charlottesville community. It’s not a new phenomenon that U.Va. feels like a bubble within central Virginia — aside from the handful of girls in my sorority I know very few Charlottesville natives. The people skating were kind, patient and visibly different from the people I pass on my walk to class each day. Meeting them, even for just a little bit, was a true pleasure.

The roller skating rink is open Sundays and Fridays from 1 to 5:50 p.m., with free skates. I would also encourage anyone to check out the center’s work out classes. They’re much cheaper than ones I’ve attended at spin studios like Edge and Purvelo, so I’d be curious to hear how they stack up. And finally, remember that we share this incredible city with so many people, and getting to know them is mutually beneficial.

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