McKinney may not seem like the most natural breeding ground for America’s next generation of champion figure skaters and NHL hockey stars. But the Dr Pepper StarCenter in McKinney is quickly becoming a rink of renown.

Located just north of the Sam Rayburn Tollway (State Highway 121) and Alma Road, Dr Pepper StarCenter at Craig Ranch offers year-round programming for people of all ages and skill levels. Skating and hockey are booming in North Texas, and the six Dr Pepper StarCenters in the Metroplex attract young people just learning to skate and play hockey, adults pursuing a lifelong passion and families who just enjoy gliding around the ice.

Olympic Star Comes to Town

The increasingly successful programs in McKinney are attracting the attention of past Olympic greats and nationally recognized figure skaters who may one day participate in the Olympics.

Todd Eldredge (on screen at right) joins rising skater Ashley Shin at nternational competitions.

Photo courtesy of Sabrina Eldredge

Todd Eldredge (on screen at right) joins rising skater Ashley Shin at nternational competitions.

 

Famed Olympic skater Todd Eldredge finds McKinney and its StarCenter ideally situated for future growth. “We fell in love with this area. McKinney has so many young families who want fun activities for their kids,” Eldredge said. “The Dr Pepper StarCenters are a great place for families to get together, because figure skating and hockey are fun to learn.”

Young skaters can get started by joining the skating academies. “Classes at the Dr Pepper StarCenters are fun and engaging,” he said. “The kids are having fun and they’re staying active.”

Eldredge enjoyed a long, impressive competitive skating career. His many championship titles include: World champion, three-time Olympian, six-time U.S. champion and six-time world medalist. In 2008, he was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Coaching Future Champions

Coach Richard Callaghan has been developing figure skating stars for 32 years, producing Olympic, world and national champions. Some of his top medaling students include: Eldredge, Tara Lipinski (Olympic and world champion), Nicole Bobek (U.S. champion and world bronze medalist), Kimmie Meissner (U.S. and world champion), Shizuka Arakawa (Olympic, world and Japanese champion), Daisuke Takahashi (Olympic medalist, world and Japanese champion) and many others.

Eldredge and Callaghan just returned from a trip to North Carolina for the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships, where two of their students, Ashley Shin and Paxton James, competed against the best skaters in the country.

“It’s fun, and I’m good at it!” James said. A new resident of McKinney, the 11-year-old skater is a U.S. Figure Skating Midwestern Sectional bronze medalist and 2015 U.S. Nationals competitor.

Her mother said she’s excited about continuing to work with Eldredge. “I think he’s wonderful,” Sandy James said. “He’s very patient, very understanding and, more importantly, I think he’s relatable to the students.”

Amber Glenn also trains at the McKinney StarCenter and began skating at the age of five. Coached by Ann Brumbaugh and Ben Shroats, Glenn is the 2012 Novice Silver Medalist and 2014 Junior Ladies Champion and World competitor representing Team USA. Her goal is to represent the USA in the 2018 Olympics in Korea.

 

 

Eldredge said McKinney has the recipe for creating stars and champions. “The McKinney StarCenter is a first-class skating facility, we have world- and Olympic-level coaches, a top-notch Michael Johnson training facility across the parking lot and the support of the greatest city in the U.S,” he said.

Paxton James works with her coach, Todd Eldredge, to prepare for next competition.

Photo courtesy of Sabrina Eldredge

Paxton James works with her coach, Todd Eldredge, to prepare for next competition.

 

Skating classes and lessons at the Dr Pepper StarCenters start as early as 3 years old.

Hockey Scoring Goals

The StarCenter also offers a free youth hockey initiative called Little Rookies, which gives young children the opportunity to learn the basics of hockey.

Each participant is outfitted with all the necessary hockey equipment required to play hockey and a souvenir jersey for them to keep at the end of the program. Little Rookies has been so successful that NHL teams such as the Boston Bruins have used it as a model for their own programs.

“The coaches were so good and so enthusiastic that is was contagious,” Manon Bradshaw said.

Her son, Ian, participated in the Little Rookies program. “The first time our son got on the ice, he fell and took at least three minutes to get up. We thought, that is it, he will be in tears and will want to quit. When we saw his face, it was pure joy. He had the biggest smile and although he only ‘walked’ on the ice, he asked to go back again. He didn’t care that he wasn’t doing it perfectly because he was having fun chasing the puck.”

StarCenter Activities

Some of the other programs offered at Dr Pepper StarCenter in McKinney include:

        Skating Academy:

The Dallas Stars Skating Academy was designed to offer a progressive learning experience for participants of all ages and all skill levels. The Skating Academy is divided by skill level and age. Skaters must pass the skill requirements at each class before advancing to the next level.

Dr Pepper StarCenter in McKinney.

Photo courtesy of Dr Pepper StarCenter

Dr Pepper StarCenter in McKinney.

 

        Hockey Academy:

A learn-to-play program designed for skaters ages 4 through 15, the Hockey Academy follows the USA Hockey’s American Development Model, helping players grow with the game at their own pace.

        Dallas Stars Metro Hockey League:

The Dallas Stars Metro Hockey League provides youth hockey players, from 8U Mite through 18U Midget, the opportunity to play competitive hockey in a recreational atmosphere with an opportunity to improve both individual and team skills.

        Senior Stars Hockey League:

Play usually takes place in fall and winter. Open to adult, amateur hockey players. Check StarCenter website for information about possible upcoming opportunities.

        Public skating sessions:

Dr Pepper StarCenter McKinney offers the opportunity for anyone to hit the ice. Skates are available for rent and the ice is open to individuals of all ages.

        Birthday parties and meetings:

The StarCenter offers party rooms for hosting birthday parties and community meetings.

 

For more information about these programs and many more, call 469-675-8326 or visit drpepperstarcenter.com.