Ringgold grad brings speedskating to Donora
Rob Campbell's love for skating happened by chance when he was only 6 years old.
It was 1987, and Campbell went with his mother to pick up his sister at skating practice.
“When we picked her up, I thought it seemed pretty neat,” the 2000 graduate of Ringgold said. “And all of these years later, I am still involved.”
The 32-year old Campbell is part of the National SpeedSkating Circuit (NSC), and his hard work will lead the NSC to Valley Skating Center in Donora Friday night for the group's third professional speed skating event of the 2014 season.
The event, which begins at 6 p.m., is titled “Rally in the Valley.”
The first two events took place in Tacoma, Wash.
“Think of it as a track meet on wheels, but far more entertaining,” NSC President Miguel Jose said in a press release.
“The NSC skaters have qualified for the league from all over the globe; they are the best our sport has to offer,” Jose said. “The NSC athletes are vastly entertaining and display a superior level of athletic ability and showmanship. This sport teaches young people the value of hard work and perseverance.”
There will be two categories Friday night: sprint and endurance.
The sprint races consist of 300 and 500 meters, while the endurance races are 1,000 and 1,600 meters.
The cash purse is $6,000 and will be spread out among the top three finishers in the sprint field and the top four in the endurance field.
A grand champion will be crowned, with the winner earning the black suit and an additional $1,000.
Belle Vernon native Franklin Hewitt and Donora resident Kevin Carroll will take part, but Campbell is not permitted to compete.
“As the event host, I have to sit out,” he said. “It is disappointing, but it still means everything to me to bring it to my hometown.
“I tell people that it is a visual that they have to see. Until you see this, you don't understand how exciting it is to watch.”
“I have accomplished, personally, everything that I ever set out to do in my career. Helping this event take place here is just so special to me.”
Campbell said he is bursting with pride that he is able to bring the NSC to his hometown.
“I can't even begin to describe how much it means to me to not just bring the NSC to the East coast, but to host the event in my hometown at the rink I grew up in,” he said. “It's going to be a special night.”
More information on the NSC, which consists of 30 of the top skaters in the world, can be found at www.ProNSC.com.
Advance tickets can be purchased online for $15 and tickets will also be available at the door. Children 6 and under get in for free.
Bill Hughes is a freelance writer.