Nationally competitive speed skaters flocked to Victoria’s Skateworld, where Rolling Thunder, a speed skating team, would practice.
“They were competing among the fastest skaters in the nation, and even in the world,” Raymond Garza, the rink’s current owner, said.
It’s prominence as a speed skating hub has waned, but the rink remains dedicated to giving inexperienced skaters the tools they need to learn.
They provide different tools to help them balance.
“We can slow the wheels down so they don’t move as fast. We can adjust the skate to the ability of the skater,” Garza said.
Skateworld opened in Victoria in the 1970s and has been owned by the Garza family since 1992. Garza said he used to visit the skating rink every weekend with his friends. When he learned its previous owner planned to sell, Garza said he urged his parents to buy the business.
“Roller skating in Victoria is a tradition,” Garza said. “Every Friday and Saturday the kids would skate. It was a place to come out and stay out of trouble.”
No one can attest to the tradition more than Kenzel Williams, who has skated at the rink almost every weekend since he was 6 years old.
Although Williams, who lived with his mother behind the skating rink in Treemont Apartments, didn’t have much money to spare, he found ways to skate and would even use quads belonging to his cousin that were several sizes too big.
In adulthood, Williams continues to head out to the rink – now with his two kids in tow.
Over the years, Williams said, he’s honed his skills and will help less experienced skaters he sees in the rink.
“Raymond is what really keeps me going back there,” Williams said. “That man is so helpful in every way.”
After years of Garza encouraging Williams to become competitive, he recently bought a pair of inline skates and began attending the speed skating team’s twice weekly practices.
“I want to take it as far as I can,” Williams said.