TGH Ice Plex won the first ISI National Championship in its history.

Tampa’s TGH Ice Plex performed in its first figure skating competition in 14 months. It’s team did not disappoint, winning the 2021 Spring Classic at the RDV Sportsplex Ice Den in Orlando for the first Ice Sports Industry (ISI) National Championship in the rink’s history.

“I was excited and relieved,” said Anna Barile of TGH Ice Plex, who was tied for most events competed in with 10. “Our team was a close second at the last competition over a year ago, so everyone was working extra hard to get first this time. It was our rink’s first championship at an ISI national competition.”

The Spring Classic was held from April 30 to May 2 with rinks from 10 different states competing, including Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota and Texas. TGH Ice Plex (formerly the Ice Sports Forum) had the most total skaters with 66 competing in the classic. TGH Ice Plex’s ice skaters ranged in age from the youngest, at 5, to the oldest, Helyn Rodgers, at 68. ISI created a point system, adding up the total points accumulated from each individual skater based on how well they placed in events.

“I love skating because I feel so free on the ice,” said Caleigh Yick, 11. “Skating alone is great, but I have even more fun with my pairs partner, ensemble group and sync team.”

TGH Ice Plex Skating Director Tommy Brannen, who has held that position since 2005, said that most of the skaters that competed came from the arena’s Learn to Skate program for beginning skaters. Brannen was very proud of how his skaters competed and performed.

“I was very happy and excited for all the kids, the parents and the arena,” said Brannen. “It was an awesome moment that came together from all the hard work that the kids have done. What makes me most proud is the character of the kids and the hard work they put in, as well as the coaching staff that put their heart and soul into coaching their students.”

The classic win was extra special, considering that TGH Ice Plex hadn’t performed in a competition in 14 months because of the pandemic. It typically participates in about four local competitions each year. TGH Ice Plex received a banner, which proudly hangs in the arena, as well as a trophy to display in the trophy case at the rink.

“Times are changing and hopefully skating is coming around and everybody is excited to get back to competing again,” said Brannen.

According to Brannen, the team will participate in a local competition in Oldsmar next month from Friday to Sunday, June 4-6. He welcomes anybody that is interested to join and participate in the Learn to Skate program, which is open year-round.

“We’d like to continue to support each other as a team and to perform well at our next competition in early June,” said Barile.

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.