Smoothing out the rough spots

Michele Roehrig

Student glides across rink with icy occupation

A Mercedes Benz or a BMW isn’t the ride that gets Kent State student Brandon Palsa compliments. It’s an Olympia.

And it’s cool – really cool.

Palsa is a supervisor at Center Ice Sports Complex in North Canton, which requires him to drive an Olympia ice resurfacer.

“There’s one hockey mom in particular who bothers me every time I go to drive it,” said the junior business management major. “She just really wants to go for a ride.”

Similar to the more commonly known Zamboni, an Olympia ice resurfacer scrapes off ice from an ice rink surface and lays down water to make it smooth again.

Palsa started working at Center Ice Sports Complex six years ago, shortly after it opened. Since then, he has lapped the rink thousands of times, doing about eight cuts every shift. In fact, Palsa has been working at the ice rink longer than any other employee or management member.

“Sometimes, I feel like I’ve been here forever,” Palsa said. “But I love this place. I definitely have a loyalty to it. And the laid-back atmosphere and the great employees help.”

Beyond being a devoted employee, Palsa is admired by his coworkers. Tyler Murphy, senior at Jackson High School in Massillon and employee for over two years, said Palsa is his favorite supervisor to work for.

“When I look on the schedule, I’m happy to see that I’m working with Brandon,” Murphy said. “He’s really laid back, but we get the work done.”

Palsa has also helped train several new supervisors, including the most recent trainee, Megan Nussbaumer, sophomore marketing major at Kent State Stark. Nussbaumer started training in January and has been an independent supervisor for less than a month.

“He is so patient and understanding,” said Nussbaumer, who met Palsa when she started working at the ice rink five years ago. “I don’t think I could have ever gotten to where I am without the help and support of Brandon.”

Palsa and Nussbaumer have become friends over the past five years and frequently socialize. Palsa said it’s primarily relationships like these that keep him from leaving the rink.

“My favorite part about work is the people I work with,” Palsa said. “All the employees get along so well, and we all hang out outside the rink.”

Unlike many other employees, Palsa comes to the rink for many other reasons than work. He plays in the Adult Hockey League and worked with children in the Learn to Skate program. This past season was Palsa’s first experience as the assistant Hoover High School hockey coach.

However, Palsa’s coaching days were challenged when he broke his leg near the start of the season. He could not skate, but he frequently attended practices and games to remain a part of the team.

Palsa said his favorite part about coaching is “just being on the ice and teaching the kids.”

When Palsa graduates from Kent State in 2008, he said he would consider owning a rink if he had the money.

Editor’s note: Brandon Palsa isn’t the only “cool” Kent State student who works at Center Ice Sports Complex. Michele Roehrig is also an employee.

Contact graduate studies reporter Michele Roehrig at [email protected].