- people on the move
Sports academy scoops up venerable roller rink
Facility will be used for youth volleyball and basketball.
Elementary and middle school students will need to find a new place to roller skate.
Woodland Skating Center and Woodland Sports Center, 2100 28th St. SE, have changed hands and will move toward hosting basketball and volleyball under the new leadership of Michigan Sports Academies, which is owned by Cheri DeVos.
Opened in 1969 by the Roodvoets family and a group of investors, the roller rink has long been a staple for area school children for birthday and school parties. During the past four decades of operation, the facility added space for tennis, soccer, lacrosse and volleyball.
Now, it’s time for a transition, and the Roodvoets family preferred to retain a sports theme for the facility, which it found with Michigan Sports Academies, operator of Michigan Volleyball Academy and Michigan Basketball Academy.
“We are thrilled that we found a buyer that will invest in the kind of youth programming and team sports that are important to today’s youth and families,” Bryan Roodvoets said. “Michigan Sports Academies has a great reputation, and I am confident this will have a positive impact on the retail and restaurant neighbors in this part of the city.”
Plans for the facility include shuttering the roller rink, but the company will do its best to keep the indoor soccer complex and outdoor soccer and volleyball fields in working order, said Gerrik Schepel, Michigan Sports Academies executive director.
The facilities will be renovated to also include premium basketball and volleyball courts, but detailed plans are still in the works.
The facility will close April 18 for the renovations. The last weekend for skating will be April 8-9.
Schepel said Michigan Sports Academies has been growing at an exponential rate since starting its volleyball academy in 2007 and its basketball program in 2012. For the most part, the programs have been run out of the MVP Field House in Cascade Township and at area schools.
With the Roodvoets family seeking a new owner that would keep the building sports-focused and MSA looking for a site to allow it to grow, the match made sense, Schepel said.
“They wanted to sell the building and they really worked diligently to find a way to keep it a sports center,” Schepel said.
Although he declined to say whether the building would also act as MSA headquarters, the facility’s location in the middle of the Metro Grand Rapids area will help the academies grow, he said.
While MSA intends to maintain the soccer fields at the facility, the focus of its programs will remain on basketball and volleyball with no plans to start new academies.
The sports academies are for students across the West Michigan region. The additional training can help students move to a new level of competitiveness as MSA offers a variety of teams that allow players to participate either at local, regional or national talent levels as they progress, Schepel said.
“As the kids age, they start to find their skill and niche and an opportunity,” he said. “We provide a piece for each of those kids as they look to grow in skill, and there are opportunities to get involved, whether they say, ‘I want to play in high school,’ or ‘I want to play in college.’”