(Left to right) Felix Alvarenga (dressed in the Sully suit, Colorado Extreme’s mascot), Beatriz Martinez, Javier Martinez, Benjamin Andrade, Yuri Perez, Elena Alfaro and Bertha Sanchez signed up 100 West Garfield youth recruits within the first 24 hours of outreach in Rifle. Courtesy photo

People were turning their heads when they saw a zamboni treading along Railroad Avenue in Rifle a couple of weeks ago. After setting roots in the midValley for the past few years, the Colorado Extreme (CE) crew has laid a rink in West Garfield County at the Rifle Fairgrounds. 

“This is a perfect fit for our mission,” CE’s founder, Sheldon Wolitski, told The Sopris Sun. “Based on the growth and success of our program in Carbondale, it was an absolute no brainer for us to go there.” 

In fact, the rink at the fairgrounds is the same one that CE started out with from its inception at Crown Mountain Park just a few years ago.

The CE staff had done their homework, having checked out placement options in Parachute and Rifle. Rifle, being more centralized in West Garfield, ended up being the ticket. 

The rink is set right in the arena in front of the stands, already equipped with power, lights, speakers and the works, said Wolitski. It really works out, because typically the arena remains unused through the winter months.  

CE provides an opportunity for kids not just to get on the ice and play hockey, but to build camaraderie with their peers and gain positive life values. The sport has lifted Wolitski and his fellow coaches to new heights in life, and the intention is to pass on what it’s done for them. Besides, it keeps the kids off the screens and out of trouble. 

Seeing as though RE-2 School District students only have a four-day school week, the rink will be open all day on Fridays. Wolitski expressed that parents were equally as excited that their kids will have something to do on Fridays, while they’re still at work.

Alesha Marrow lives outside of Rifle and has been driving her three kids up regularly to CE’s rink on Catherine Store Road. She’s been bracing neighboring families for a potential rink in Rifle, and reiterated how grateful parents are now that it’s come to fruition. She expressed that CE always puts its money where its mouth is, delivering what it promises and debunking that feeling that it’s too good to be true. 

The Rifle location is kicking it off with 12 and under programming right off of the bat, which CE just began to offer here in the midValley this season. This goes to show that the organization doesn’t move slowly, but offers what it can at full speed. 

Everyone starts out in the “Learn to Skate” program, but Wolitiski is confident that the newcomers will be teaming up and playing games before we know it. 

Wolitski is always considering what comes next, and gave The Sopris Sun some insight. “If we get the support from the [West Garfield] community in joining the program, then once we get approvals for the Carbondale rink, we’ll be looking at Rifle next,” Wolitski stated, referring to CE’s intent to one day have a year-round indoor facility.

After only 24 hours of canvassing in West Garfield, CE had more than 100 sign-ups. 

Wolitski would like to hire from within the West Garfield community, and is in the midst of searching for a new coach with some hockey experience, and someone to help maintain the rink. If you know someone who may fit the bill for either position, email carlos@coloradoextreme.org To find out more about the program, visit www.coloradoextreme.org 

Getting signed up! Courtesy photo