From hitting the rink on disco nights to coasting along beach boulevards — roller-skating has traversed the American landscape — gliding into a hip vision associated with the American youth.
Some roller-skating enthusiasts, like La Purísima Catholic School (Orange) student, Heneli Ramirez, have taken this fun form of exercise to its highest form – artistic competition.
In fact, this 14-year-old boy’s achievements are quite astounding.
Last summer, Ramirez nabbed firstplace medals for Team USA National Championships Roller Sports Boys Division in Free Skating, Pairs and Elementary B Figures.
His supportive family, including his parents, Pepe and Olimpia Ramirez, and his two older brothers, are very proud of his ambition.
“He is a smart kid and when he wants to do something,” said Olimpia Ramirez, “he works for it.”
Although this retro pastime has made a bit of a comeback since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and forced people to re-think fun ways to exercise outdoors, roller-skating is most often remembered as a favored childhood pastime of yesteryear or a fun birthday party activity. It’s not at the top of the list when it comes to competitive sports.
LA PURÍSIMA CATHOLIC SCHOOL STUDENT HENELI RAMIREZ SHOWS OFF HIS ROLLER-SKATING MOVES FOR SCHOOL PRINCIPAL ROSA RAMIREZ ON FEB. 8. PHOTOS BY DREW KELLEY/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
“I didn’t really care that it wasn’t popular,” Ramirez said. “I really enjoyed it.”
Ramirez’s story begins when he was enrolled at the local skate club and from there, he quickly progressed to the point where his parents realized this could be his future.
Since then, he’s trained hard with his coaches who have helped to perfect his various maneuvers. His favorite so far is his high jumps.
Preparing for competitions every day, and sometimes with a partner, Ramirez strives to maintain a balance between his studies and his passion for roller-skating.
ROLLER-SKATING CHAMPION HENELI RAMIREZ, 14, IS A STUDENT AT LA PURÍSIMA CATHOLIC SCHOOL IN ORANGE
At middle school, he has found favor with his school principal, Rosa Ramirez (no relation to Heneli).
“He’s very true to himself,” Principal Ramirez said. “Heneli has passion, and it is not something we can teach. Passion is passion.”
Adding a fun spin to his championship wins, Heneli recently shared his roller-skating skills on campus after a recent tournament. His peers at school witnessed Heneli’s excitement as he skated around campus and took pictures in his full competitive dress.
Attending La Purísima Catholic School is essential to the faithful Ramirez family, and Heneli shared that he prays before every competition.
“Mostly, I pray that I don’t fall,” he joked.
Skating on his own and perfecting his jumps has been one of many tasks, but training with a partner has been quite different.
In many of his competitions, Ramirez glides along with his partner, a girl he trains with, and performs tricks like holding her high in the air. It requires lots of strength and skill, but he enjoys it.
“We’re both so in sync so it makes it much easier,” he said.
He also admires local world-class players at his rink and is always attempting their moves. He challenges himself so that he too can someday compete in the world-class division.
Last year, after he won the National Title in his division, he advanced to cadet, which is the division just below world-class — making that dream of competing in the world-class division more of a reality.
A very impressive young and gifted young man, Ramirez has also expressed interest in expanding his talents into other artistic ventures.
“He loves playing his piano and now he is talking about basketball,” his mom said. He also likes to crack jokes, especially at school where his quick wit has left an impression.
“He’s a good kid and he’s got a great sense of humor,” Principal Ramirez said.
Ramirez is proud of his many accomplishments in the world of roller-skating.
When asked what he wants others to know about his sport, he said, “I just want people to know I’m good.”
Up next for Ramirez? State Games followed by this year’s National Title competition.
And as for his future? By the looks of things — very bright.