If you spend time in downtown Salida you have probably noticed a group of roller skaters cruising throughout town. This is not just a group of renegade teens and adults but something much more important to the community.
The Ark Valley High Rollers Quad (AVHR) Club offers roller skating programs for all ages and abilities for the community in and around Salida. With COVID-19, roller derby came to a standstill. Stacy Falk and Molly Shrewsbury continued to skate outside, something they first began doing after the Decker Fire closed the fairgrounds (where they had praticed) in 2019.
Stacy Falk explained how AVHR Quad Club came to fruition: “We (Falk and Shrewsbury) would continue to hang out at the skatepark, and we started becoming friends with a lot of the kids that basically live there, whether they skate or not. There’s a group of kids, a lot of them from broken home situations.”
Falk continued “We started acquiring this crew of kids and we were getting them roller skates and gear so they could get out there. After a while we realized our accountability, what if someone gets hurt and we’re skating with them? So, I figured we would utilize the Roller Derby nonprofit status to create more of an organized club for kids and adults. It took off really fast.”
AVHR Quad Club has family-fun activities such as their weekly rollouts on F Street at 7 p.m. every Thursday as well as paint parties. Their presence within the community has grown as more people who share a passion for roller skating or want to learn, join the club.
Falk explained “it’s not all just roller skating, we do other activities. We just talked to Rotary about working with them and the club can go help with their projects, community clean up and that sort of thing, as just another way to demonstrate what we want to do and who we are.”
They have partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Chaffee County and the Family and Youth Initiatives to provide both children and adults an outlet for educational, recreational and therapeutic activities. Their current sponsorships allow AVHR to purchase equipment for kids at no cost to the family.
Local derby skaters volunteer to coach beginner classes, fitness class and skate park classes. They are also offering a special program through the Boys and Girls Clubs. AVHR has already seen the results of how skating is bettering the lives of people throughout the community.
In collaboration with the club, Falk will be opening the local skate shop Ramps and Alleys, located at 645 East Rainbow Blvd. in Salida. The space will offer a retail shop, a clubhouse open to nonprofits across the county, as well as a mini indoor skatepark.
“I decided to move on and build my dream. So in doing that I had a very small realistic business plan, starting out in a super small space with the lowest rent I could find,” said Falk. After looking at multiple spaces that didn’t work out for one reason or the other, Falk started working with some locals whose kids she knew through the skate park. The team discovered that 645 East Rainbow was for rent and the rest is history.
“I instantly fell in love with it. It’s super grungy and full of character and needs a ton of work but the vibe in there just says ‘skate shop,’” said Falk.
Due to the large amount of space, Falk started brainstorming how to utilize every square foot. “My mind just kept going and going. I thought this could be a clubhouse for the kids and we can use it for all kinds of programs in the community. We can really create a fun, safe space for kids to want to come hang out,” Falk added. “In partnering with Boys and Girls Club, Family and Youth initiative and Rotary we’re going to be able to get a lot more funding for our operating costs to make this place actually work.”
The skate shop started by Falk will pay a portion of the rent while most of it will be covered through the nonprofit. Youth within the club have been vital members of establishing the space. Falk brought up one girl in particular whom she took under her wing.
“She was like ‘when do I get roller skates?’ So we got her on roller skates and it completely changed her whole world. She’s been very involved with me in creating the club and doing a lot of fundraising,” said Falk. “One day she and I were driving around. I said ‘we need sponsors, what do you think? Who has money?’
“She said ‘the bank.’ So, we went to High Country Bank, they gave us the application and I let her fill it out so it’s all very youth-driven and in her [own] words.”
According to Falk, this is just the beginning for the club. They plan on opening on Halloween regardless of where they’re at in the current phase of the project, whether it be a party to celebrate what they’re doing, or having a formal store opening.
Sunday 4:00 -6:00 p.m. Roller Derby (Chaffee County Fairgrounds)
Mondays 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Basic Quad Skills (Centennial Park)
Weds 8:00 -9:00 a.m. Roller-Cise (Centennial Park)
Weds 6:00 -8:00 p.m. Roller Derby (Chaffee County Fairgrounds)
Thursday 6:00 – 7:00p.m. Community Roll Out, All Wheels Welcome (Alpine Park)
Fridays 9:00 -10:00a.m. Skatepark Skills (Salida Skatepark)
Cover photo courtesy of Ark Valley High Rollers Quad Club. Pictured left to right. Joi Santa Cruz, Autumn Mann, Stacy Falk, Aspeyn Stallard, Molly Shrewsbury, Jill Mann.