Roll away the winter blues

Smoky Mountain Sk8way, Fun Zone offers expanded fun
By Anne Baker | Nov 21, 2013
Photo by: Donated photo N.C. Sen. Joe Sam Queen, left, stands with childhood friend and building owner Troy Muse, right. The two were instrumental in helping the Bryant family achieve their dream of expanding Smoky Mountain Sk8way.

As winter approaches, parents might be searching for a safe and healthy activity that the whole family can enjoy — and roller skating can prove to be a fun alternative to outside adventures when the temperatures drop.

According to the American Heart Association, roller skating is recognized and recommended as an aerobic fitness sport, and just one hour of moderate roller skating can burn more than 300 calories. Studies have shown that roller skating provides a complete aerobic workout that involves many of the body’s muscles, including the heart; in fact, roller skating is equivalent to jogging in terms of health benefits, the reduction of body fat and leg strength development. More importantly, a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts found that skating causes less than 50 percent of the impact shock to joints compared to running.

“People don’t know how beneficial roller skating is,” said JoLynn Bryant, owner of the newly expanded Smoky Mountain Sk8way and Fun Zone. “It’s a healthy outlet for everyone.”

Haywood County’s only skating rink is locally operated by JoLynn and her husband, Robert, who have three children — Keelan, 19, who graduated from Tuscola High School; Kiersten, 13, who attends Waynesville Middle School; and Kylee, who is almost 4.

Because Smoky Mountain Sk8way is family owned, the Bryants have done their best to make the rink as family friendly as possible, offering package deals for families, school groups and church groups; the opportunity to host birthday or private parties; family coupons and specials that will be posted on the rink’s website; and events like “Old Skool” skate night on Wednesdays and a home school student skate from 2 to 5 p.m. on Fridays. The business is also in the process of adding clear music genres to each skate session so visitors will know what to expect when skating.

“We are listening to moms and dads,” Bryant said. “We want to make the family experience at Smoky Mountain Sk8way and Fun Zone as safe, fun and affordable as possible so we are making some of the changes requested most.”

With an added 10,000 square feet, the rink now boasts a new snack bar and a “fun zone” that offers an obstacle course, climbing wall, slides and more.

“[The rink is] only going to get better now that it’s bigger,” JoLynn said. “The expansion has rejuvenated us.”

The recent expansion of the skating rink has also made it easier for the Balsam Mountain Roller Girls and the Balsam Mountain Junior Roller Girls to practice. The league is enjoying the new wood skate floor that replaced the rink’s old concrete floor — and because the surface is bigger, there are now more opportunities for those who want to learn about the sport to participate in Haywood County’s first women’s flat track derby league.

“We wanted to bring derby to the masses,” said JoLynn, who plays derby herself. “We aren’t an official Women’s Flat Track Derby Association team, but we do play by the rules.”

The derby league at Smoky Mountain Sk8way has allowed many girls who did not have prior experience to participate in the sport, including Lily Maynor, who is a student at Tuscola High School.

“I knew I couldn’t skate, so I was scared at first,” Maynor said. “But I was dedicated and came to practice two times a week.”

Maynor, who goes by “Missy Miss Fit” on the flat track, is now co-captain of the junior roller girls’ team and is reaping the health benefits of skating.

“I’ve lost over 50 pounds in six months,” she said. “It’s really built up my confidence, and I’ve gained a group of strong female friends.”

The adult roller derby league practices from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sundays and Thursdays, and the junior league (ages 11 to 17) practices from 6 to 8 p.m. on Mondays. JoLynn said she hopes to plan a co-ed or even a men’s derby league in the future.

Smoky Mountain Sk8way and Fun Zone is located at 19025 Great Smoky Mountain Expressway in Waynesville, next to the Waynesville Cycle Center. The rink and fun zone are open to the public on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m.; Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 11 p.m.; Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. Rate information is available at For more information about the rink or about roller derby, call 246-9124.

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