Steve Bondi, former co-owner of the North Cascades Basecamp, is the new general manager at the Winthrop Rink.
Bondi, who started the rink job about a month ago, replaces Connor Walsh, who took a new position in Spokane.
While Bondi said he doesn’t have a background in skating or hockey, he brings managerial skills and experience gained while operating the basecamp with his wife, Kim Romain-Bondi, for six years.
The rink is owned by the Town of Winthrop and operated by a nonprofit organization. When Walsh announced that he was leaving, the rink’s board of directors began looking for a replacement. Bondi said he talked to Walsh, a board member and others in the community, and decided to go for the position.
“I was aware of the facility and its place in the community,” Bondi said in an interview last week. “Its stature can only grow.”
“I’ve always been fascinated by the different pulses in the valley,” Bondi added. “Outdoor recreation is a big part of that.”
Bondi said that Walsh and the board put a good operational structure into place for the rink, including a strong staff. The rink does need a part-time Zamboni driver, Bondi said, adding that “we can train.”
Bondi said he has been impressed with how passionate local residents are about the rink, from youngsters to recreational skaters to hockey players. The rink’s “fourth graders skate free” program introduces kids to skating at an age when they are receptive to the sport and may see it as a lifetime activity, he said.
The rink facilities include a refrigerated, NHL-sized ice rink equipped with boards and glass, and a 6,000-square-foot building with four changing rooms, showers, bathrooms, rental skates and second-story warming and viewing room. During the summer, the rink is used for roller skating and pickleball.
The rink was built in 2007, thanks to the efforts of volunteers led by Marc Robertson and substantial grants from the state Recreation and Conservation Office that were matched by the town, and by locally donated efforts and materials.
The rink was not refrigerated until 2016. The refrigeration equipment was purchased with the help of more state grants and installed with the assistance of hundreds of donated hours of local volunteers’ labor. The equipment allows the rink to operate from November through March, and to confidently schedule youth and adult hockey tournaments without worrying about ice conditions.
The Bondis owned the basecamp from 2010 to 2016, when it was sold to the Bush School. The Seattle-based school uses the basecamp as a satellite facility for its environmental education programs. After selling the camp, the Bondis and their children, Amelia and Emmett, went on an extended trip to Tanzania.
Since he and his family returned from Africa, Bondi has worked at a variety of jobs around the valley, he said. Kim Romain-Bondi is executive director of Classroom in Bloom.