Spinning into the world of roller skating

Slip, fall, crash, cry, give up. Miss out on the sport that made the girl the world sees today, who she is. This could have been the reality for Delilah Grant, Samantha Grant and Alli Sangiacomo, all of whom fell a few too many times for their liking, but fortunately, never let that discourage them from persevering into success. Although many may see Skating Plus as simply a fun birthday excursion, diving in deeper, it is home to the many roller skaters throughout Ventura County who attend lessons there as they prepare for statewide and national competitions.

At the age of six, Delilah Grant, senior, headed into the rink for the first time at her friend’s birthday party. “I fell and cried and cried, but my dad is a person that’s like, ‘You can’t quit anything that you do,’ So once I went one time, I wasn’t allowed to quit. And ever since then I learned how to skate and then they recruited me for their bigger skating club,” Delilah said. “Seeing people that are better than me, that keeps me motivated to work harder. It’s a pretty small rollerskating community in America. It’s very big in other countries, and so in America, it’s not out of reach to get to the top and be the best. So I’m definitely inspired to reach towards the top.”

Alongside her sister, Samantha Grant, sophomore, has been skating for seven years, and although she loves chasing the adrenaline rush of winning, deep down, she reminds herself it is simply about having fun, skating on the floor, and expressing herself. “It’s really rewarding looking back and seeing how far I’ve come. I look back on old videos of me skating and then videos of me skating now and it’s amazing to see how much I’ve improved,” Samantha said. “A lot of the time you don’t feel like it because you can’t see yourself skating, so when I compare through old and new videos, it’s crazy to see how all the hard work I’ve put in has paid off.”

After skating and competing in competitions all throughout growing up, Alli Sangiacomo, skating coach, continues to spread her love for the sport by teaching youth within the community. “I always make sure to get to know the student as a person and their learning style, their likes and dislikes and what motivates them and their dispositions so that I can adjust the way that I approach teaching new things to that individual,” Sangiacomo said. “I implement a…more…hands-off approach. I don’t want to encroach on my skater’s space. I’ve really kind of vibed with all of my students, so it’s always been like a really fun collaboration. I just love being able to positively influence those guys,” she said.

Reflecting back on her skating memories, Delilah looks to her first win with strong admiration. “One of my favorite memories, I was 11-years-old and I hadn’t won a competition before and at the time, the biggest competition for me was regionals out of like a couple states. I didn’t think I was super good and I skated and I didn’t really think anything about it because I was just having fun. And then all of a sudden I got called out for first place of the region, which was such a good memory because I was not expecting it at all,” Delilah said.

Although not clicking with a sport right away is discouraging, the courage to come back for a second try is what defines the fine line between success and failure. “I tell kids that are crying in the beginner class, I’m like, ‘I just want you to know that my first step on this floor I fell on my butt. And then I went home and I cried. And look, I came back one more time and then I never left,’” Sangiacomo said.

Delilah’s passion for roller skating has truly shaped who she is today. “It’s definitely made me more determined because when I started off, I really sucked. And most of the things that I do usually come easy to me. This did not come easy to me,” Delilah said. “And it’s really hard being a figure skater because your prime can be before puberty and then once you hit puberty, you have to relearn how to do all these things when you’re growing. And as an athlete, I’ve learned to rely on myself more. It’s given me a strong work ethic because I create my own schedule, I have to advocate for myself, find coaches to teach me, find choreographers, and overall, it’s made me more of a self-advocate.”