It’s an exciting time for RIT Athletics and our student athletes as Tiger hockey prepares to move into the newly constructed Gene Polisseni Center. But we can’t forget the amazing 46-year run of Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena.
In addition to RIT hockey, there were many groups outside of RIT that spent some time on our ice, including Genesee Figure Skating Club, Rochester Youth Hockey, Monroe County Hockey League, Rochester Americans, Empire State Games, Buffalo Sabres and the Chinese School of Rochester.
But not all activities held at Ritter revolved around hockey. Ritter Ice Arena has been the site of numerous commencement ceremonies, sending many excited students on their way. Sources tell of one memorable commencement in the 1970s where certain individuals made their presence known by streaking across the stage, a popular fad in those days. In 1991, the Horton Distinguished Speaker Series brought President Jimmy Carter to the arena, and Ritter was the site for musical talent such as U2 in 1983 and Elvis Costello in 1984.
One of the most popular student activities held in Ritter Ice Arena was the annual broomball tournament started by former RIT sports information director J. Roger Dykes in the 1970s and continued by Alpha Phi Omega fraternity. A broomball rivalry game between the RIT administration and Student Government always brought laughs—and an all-night broomball marathon. And who could forget the annual Ice Disco Skate sponsored by College Activities Board, complete with neon lights spinning around the rink, Saturday Night Fever songs blasting through the speakers, and funky dance gear worn by skaters? There was Ice Tug-O-War, Santa Claus on Ice, Halloween on Ice (where the Jack Sparrow costume won first prize), and my personal favorite, Chocolate on Ice—free skating for students who brought a food donation for Foodlink and treats like chocolate fondue for dipping.
The Rochester Engineering Society held its Annual E3 Engineering & Technology Fair in Ritter, an event that provided opportunities for middle-school-aged kids to learn about engineering professions and how to engineer solutions to problems. RIT also hosted the National Robotic Technology and Engineering Challenge, one of the largest competitions in North America where students compete in 16 Olympic-style robotic challenges.
On Dec. 13, 2013, Eric Ignatowski and Colleen Fitzgerald, who met as students at RIT, exchanged their wedding vows at center ice. The couple became friends while studying at RIT and in 2008 went on their first date. Eric proposed on the same bench on campus where they first met.