In the parking lot in front of IJsbaan Twente, the wind is blowing hard at the end of the afternoon on Thursday. Those who think they will find more warmth behind the entrance doors of the oval building will be disappointed. Fortunately, the hundred or so members of the Skeuvel are prepared for this. Students standing along the side of the track are wearing warm clothing, including bright orange hats from a Dutch soup and sausage brand. The members on the track keep themselves warm by completing many laps at a rapid pace.
The fastest members do not wear hats or vests, so they move as aerodynamically as possible in red and blue suits. The inner lane is their domain. The further we look to the outside of the track, the more colored vests we find. There, members are practicing the 'leg over' in the turn. 'Those are members who are not as good, or don't have as much skating experience. On the outside of the rink you see several trainers, who explain skating techniques. Sometimes, like last Monday, it is very busy. Then there are more than a hundred members skating, but because everyone knows what he or she must do, it is always nice skating here.'
It is Bram van Wee speaking from beneath his orange hat. He is a board member of the 56th board of the Skeuvel. The slogan of this board is 'cracks but doesn't break'. Van Wee, a student of Mechanical Engineering, is living proof that board members of an association do not always excel in sports. 'I've only been skating in Twente since the beginning of my studies, so I'm not as good as the members you see skating in a train formation on the inside of the rink, but we don't need to be,' he assures.
The huge membership of the Skeuvel, founded in 1966, supports his claim. After all, with over 240 members, there is no room for just skating stars. The association even has more committees than small UT associations have members. If you ask Van Wee if De Skeuvel also organizes activities besides skating, he replies that there is almost not a day in the year that Skeuvel does not organize anything. 'But not all members show up everywhere, that wouldn't be good either. Every year we go on a trip three times. Around Christmas we go skating somewhere else. That can be in the Netherlands, but also go to Inzell (Germany) or Collalbo (Italy). In addition, there are numerous parties, galas, pub quizzes and other gatherings. There's something going on almost every Tuesday,' says Van Wee.
Skeuvel members can put on their skates for an hour every week on Mondays and Thursdays from October to March. Then the IJsbaan Twente is home to the oldest student skating club in the Netherlands, although here and there on the rink there are also a few children who, given their age, still have to wait a few years for a Skeuvel membership. In the summer, many members take to their bikes or inline skates, or they go to the gym or UTrack.
What distinguishes De Skeuvel from many other clubs is that the sporting and recreational parts are clearly separated. After the hour of skating, no crates of beer appear on the table in the ice skating cafe. No, everyone joins in for the traditional 'Chocomellen'. Van Wee: 'Agreeing to have a drink on campus often doesn't work, because members often go home anyway. That's why we always drink a chocolate milk here. That's how we keep the club feeling going, because skating is quite individual.'
Occasionally members also get together at the weekend, when one of the better members gets to perform at a national championship that is televised. 'Then all of De Skeuvel is in front of the tube. We are a student association, so it is mainly about having fun, but some members skate at a high level. We are proud of that.'
Besides the cake-baking contests, get-togethers and fancy-dress parties, the association will first celebrate its lustrum in February (postponed). De Wee does not know what that will look like, the committee is keeping that a secret, 'but I suspect it will be two weeks of battling again. Both on and off the track.'