Bathgate North Dakota Native, Noval Baptie
Member of the National Speed Skating Hall of Fame and Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
I, who have passed the half-century mark, know that the best way to remain a good specimen of physical fitness throughout life is to constantly participate in intelligent exercise. My favorite activity, and as matter of fact it has always been, is skating - ice skating, and after forty years, much of which has been spent with steel skates on my feet, I believe that this is one of the most enjoyable and healthiest of sports that will do as much as any sport or exercise to keep a young fellow healthy and active and an old fellow young.
There is nothing difficult about ice skating. Almost anyone with two sound legs can become a good skater. It is to some extent a matter of practice but largely a matter of liking, yes, of loving to skate. As with any other sport, one can only become proficient by constantly spending hours on the ice, and one can only spend hours on the ice when one loves to skate.
No doubt the people who excel in any sport are those who have taken part in it all their lives; you have to grow up in a thing in order to be outstanding. I have been skating almost since the time I was able to walk. This is possible in the country where I was born, in Ontario and in North Dakota, where I was raised, because in those places winter comes early and stays late. At sixteen I was fortunate enough to win the professional skating championship of the world and since that time have competed successfully with some of the best and fastest skaters. I always view with pride, the fact that in addition to winning the above named championship, that in 1902 at Saranac Lake, NY, I managed to win the five mile race and win the world's record of 14 minutes, 47 3/5 seconds, which still remains the established record for that distance. These accomplishments were only achived by constant exercise, continuous practice, and careful observance of the rules for keeping fit which you as athletes must also observe.
Every year it is possible to see some of the world's greatest skaters give exhibitions in and around New York. Some of these skaters are no longer in early youth but nevertheless they are still healthy and retain their youthful form and appearance. In contrast to other sports these people participate in skating almost throughout their entire lives without serious strain upon their heart and without detriment to their health. It is a smooth health-building activity, especially so as it often brings one out doors in the winter and when the air is bracing and invigorating.
It is only in recent years that indoor skating rinks have been made possible by the development of artificial ice. Skating in an indoor rink is always a great pleasure to one who not only likes spped skating but fancy skating, and at this point I might say a good word for fancy skating (figure skating). Few activities add so much to the grace and build of a man or a woman as does fancy skating for the benefit of those who might like to take it up. The gyrations, bending, twistings and curves of fancy skating give one more healthful exercise than any number of daily dozens. This too is something which almost anyone with the use of poper skates can learn to do with a certain amount of proficiency.
Knowing that the work of the PSAL (Public Schools Athletic League) is to build up healthy active habits in boys that will make them good citizens, I believe that ice skating will help to do this almost as much as any other sport or form of athletics and at the same time will give every boy a great deal of pleasure and enjoyment.
Story from 1929-30 New York City Public Schools Athletic League Annual following an article by Lou Gehrig. Norval Baptie was raised in Bathgate, ND, and is a member of the National Speedskating Hall of Fame and Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.