Tennity coordinator opens ice to new programs

Tennity coordinator opens ice to new programs

Aaron Landers is enticing students and Syracuse area locals to the South Campus rink with new programs.
Published: February 10, 2020

For 20 years, Tennity Ice Pavilion has been the go-to spot for Syracuse University students and faculty wanting to ice skate for fun or competitively.

But when Aaron Landers arrived at the South Campus ice rink two years ago, he saw the potential for much more.

“When I got here there wasn’t a lot going on,” Landers said. “There was intramural hockey, intramural broomball and Learn to Skate, and that was about it. It was almost like a blank slate.”

Since 2018, Landers has been Tennity’s programming coordinator in charge of activities such as Late Night at the Rink, sled hockey, Learn to Skate, curling and many more involving Syracuse athletics and students of all skating experience levels.

Growing up in the Syracuse area, Landers fell in love with the game of hockey, but aspiring to work for a newspaper and pursue journalism as a career halted his visits to the ice rink. After jumping from job to job, he landed at a stable printing company job for a dozen years. But all the work experience Landers picked up after a four-year stint at the Rochester Institute of Technology was never his end goal. Instead, he applied sporadically to both SU and SUNY-ESF in hopes that he’d find a job on the hill.

Landers’ role as a part-time Zamboni driver at Skaneateles’ ice rink ultimately landed him an interview at SU. Even though he worked many odd jobs after college, Syracuse was always a desired and familiar location for Landers, as his mother had worked at SU.

“That was always something that was in the back of my mind, was that I should try to get [a job] at the university,” the father of two said. “The main reason why I wanted to work at the university was the tuition benefit for the kids.”

Aaron Landers at Tennity Ice Pavillion
Programming Coordinator Aaron Landers checks out a hockey game at Tennity Ice Pavilion where he is in charge of hockey leagues, kids skating programs and late night skate parties.

Landers quickly created opportunities that Tennity could provide for the local community, including adults and children with disabilities. Landers implemented late night skate parties, organized adult leagues and launched a sled hockey program similar to what was offered in Skaneateles when he worked there. This expanded Landers’ horizons farther than just tending to the ice and even making sure each program ran smoothly.

“The inspiration behind [these new programs] was to provide an opportunity for people on campus,” Landers said. “It just kind of seemed like a no-brainer.”

at Tennity Ice Pavillion
Myes Favata, who plays sled hockey at Tennity Ice Pavilion, takes a shot on goal.

Sled hockey – a variation of ice hockey in which players sit in sleds and use their arms to propel themselves across the ice – has drawn Jamie Favata and his son Myles to Tennity to try the sport.

Myles was born with spina bifida, a condition that affects the spinal cord and nerves, and can cause loss of feeling in one’s legs and loss of functioning in one’s legs. He has not only enjoyed the program started by Landers, but thrives every session.

Landers said how special it is “to see [Myles’] progress and how he doesn’t let his physical condition limit his goals… to see [Myles] push himself and continue to get better… it just brings a smile to my face.”

Aaron Landers at Tennity Ice Pavillion
Aaron Landers has enjoyed hockey and the ice rink atmosphere since childhood.

While he’s expanded programming to welcome more people through Tennity’s doors, Landers hasn’t forgotten the ice rink’s primary mission in serving the SU community.

He regularly drives the Zamboni during the SU women’s ice hockey and men’s club games – reminders of how much he’s always loved skating, hockey and being on and around the ice nearly every day.

“It has always felt like home to me. … [Every day] feels like just another day doing what I enjoy doing.”