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Roller rink a diamond to share with Aurora

Updated: July 30, 2012 6:09AM

‘A roller rink is like a diamond with many facets,” said Dan Warner, owner of the Aurora Skate Center. “Most people are only aware of one or two facets, but I try to develop all of them.”

Some facets of this diamond I learned about from Warner were programs for autistic and other special needs kids; sessions for homeschoolers; and even time for “older” skaters like me, who will enjoy Monday nights with Frank Pellico, the organist for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Warner wants to share this diamond with the community. In May he handed out 88,000 summer passes at area schools for kids to skate free for 10 weeks. That’s a gift worth $440,000 if each is used only once. He also participates in a “kids skate free” program that was the brainchild of a handful of rink operators who wanted to establish the habit of exercise in kids age 12 and under. Parents can go to and print two free passes per week for their kids.

And here’s the great part for parents trying to stay in shape — roller skating burns 350-600 calories per hour. What a great way to get out of the summer heat or rain and get in shape while teaching the kids a fun skill!

Warner considers the skate center “a community resource,” which is why, when he realized students were competing outside on the asphalt at the annual Aurora Sports Festival, he invited them to take advantage of the rink for their skating competition, free of charge.

Some particularly sparkling facets of this diamond are a speed skating team with skaters who reach speeds of 22-25 mph indoors, a figure skating club, and my personal favorite, a roller derby league called the Aurora 88s.

Now if I were 25 years younger, I would be auditioning for the 88s! I can’t imagine a better way to stay in shape, vent a little frustration, and have fun.

While roller derby has long thrived in Chicago, last year Kerry Greminger of Plainfield (a.k.a. Devi Metal), with several friends, started the Aurora 88s, “seeking to bring the excitement of the sport to the western burbs,” said Greminger.

“These ladies will put you down,” said Warner. He told me many of them are nurses, teachers, and other professionals, yet out there in the rink they’re a force to be reckoned with.

“When they’re not skating, they’re the nicest women you’d ever want to meet,” he said.

Greminger explained: “We are athletes who work hard to learn and play this sport. Everyone can do this but they must have drive and discipline.

“I love this sport for what is has given me — the ability to be a rock star for an hour in my roller skates, in front of an audience who cheers and jeers. I have met the most amazing women and men in the entire world. ... I love Roller Derby for all that it possesses: the good, the bad and the ugly, as I would not be who I am today without it.”

From September to April Aurora’s home teams compete at the skate center. I love their names: Divas de las Muertas, Galamazons, and Hard Core Corruption. Then from May to September, our travel teams compete against teams from other cities.

To see more facets of the ASC diamond, check out There is sure to be something there to pique your interest. For more information about the Aurora 88s, including how to audition, volunteer or become a sponsor, check out their website at They have a double header bout on Saturday against the “Chicago Outfit” and “Illinois Valley Vixens” at The Aurora Skate Center, 34W113 Montgomery Road. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the bout begins at 5:30.

I expect an action-packed evening!

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