Representation at the rink: BAACC brings winter fun

Gabe Hyde

Students taped up their hockey sticks and practiced their turns in honor of Black History Month. On Feb. 13-14, Colorado State University’s Black/African American Cultural Center took Rams on a journey through African American history with a chilly spin by bringing an ice rink to the Lory Student Center Plaza.

An idea over a year in the making, the BAACC office and the Associated Students of CSU teamed up to bring students a fun new tradition that highlighted African American culture in areas that they aren’t normally represented in. A portable artificial ice rink was constructed in the middle of The Plaza where students could get together to socialize with their friends, meet CAM the Ram, learn about Black history and, of course, try to keep their balance.

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Esperanza Gaschler and David Texeira skate on the plaza on Feb 13. The event was put on by the Black/African American Cultural Center and the Associated Students of Colorado State University. (Gregory James | The Collegian)

Lining the perimeter of the rink were numerous posters of Black and African American figures who made their mark on history while gliding across the ice. This included Hockey Hall of Fame stars Willie Eldon O’Ree, Grant Scott Fuhr, Michael James Grier and Jarome Iginla. Other posters were of famous skaters Rory Flack, Mabel Fairbanks and Debra Janine Thomas.

Being able to have events such as these at our university are monumental in challenging social norms, as they provide a unique way of spreading more awareness for prominent Black and African American figures who have lived their lives on the ice.

“It’s this kind of event that’s reversing stereotypes,” said Adrian Jones, a member of the BAACC office for six years. “(The event is showing) that it’s not just basketball and football.” 

One of the figures that stood out to Jones was a French figure skater named Surya Bonaly. Aside from being among the most talented skaters in all of history, Bonaly’s legacy is fantastically encompassed by her defiant attitude against oppression toward the Black community.

One of her most significant acts is her figure skating program during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. During her routine, working through an Achilles injury from a past season, Bonaly performed an illegal backflip and landed on one foot. Bonaly received large point deductions because of the daring and groundbreaking move. She remains the only skater to have successfully landed a backflip on one foot at the Olympics.

“This is all about being together, and this is about everybody,” said CSU student DeJanay Smith. “It’s amazing showing that we’re not subjected to one sport.”

“Representation of Blacks in other areas, not one, is important,” said a freshman who only identified themselves as Andrew B. He said that he liked what the BAACC and ASCSU were able to accomplish and collaborate on in order to bring the rink to The Plaza for Black History Month. 

The ice rink at The Plaza was one small part of an entire month honoring and remembering Black History. For the rest of the month, ASCSU and BAACC will continue to work together to promote awareness of the accomplishments of the Black and African American community. A full calendar of important events for this month can be found on the BAACC’s website

Gabe Hyde can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @Saigonjon.