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In-line skaters take fast track to competitions

June 14, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- In New York's Central Park, in-line skaters practice on a six-mile course.

In California and Florida, the speed skaters have outdoor tracks where they can practice year-round.

Not to be left out of the action, a group of local in-line skaters can often be seen practicing at Turner's Skate Palace along Virginia Avenue or at outdoor locations like Hagerstown Regional Airport.

Members of the Fast Forward in-line skating team are serious about the sport and they talk with pride about the coaches who lead the group.

"It's like a part of me, I've been doing it so long," said team member Dylan Leazier, 16, who figures he has been skating about as long as he has been walking.

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In-line skating racers accumulate points based on their performance. They strive to compete in higher regional, national and world competitions, according to team officials including Jon Sprankle, who helps coach and run the Fast Forward team.

The local team is often ranked among the top-10 teams in the nation and one of its skaters competed in a world competition in 2004, said Patty Leazier, who coaches the team.

Some team members and coaches gathered at Turner's Skate Palace Sunday afternoon to talk about the team and were planning to go to Hagerstown Regional Airport later in the day to sharpen their skills.

Fast Forward members practice twice a day four or five times a week and the team -- which was formed in 2000 -- has about 50 skaters, Patty Leazier said. Team members range from young children to those older than 40.

Fast Forward team member Bret Donaldson, 40, said the older members are often parents who get tired of sitting on the sidelines and watching the kids race.

"I've raced all around the country," Donaldson said.

Sprankle lifted three young girls -- an 8-year-old and two 7-year-olds -- up on a food counter at Turner's Skate Palace so they could talk about their experiences on the team.

One of the 8-year-olds was Baylee Sprankle, Jon Sprankle's daughter.

When asked what she thought about being on the team, Baylee gave a thumbs-up and said, "cool."

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