Morgan Knutson, Gary Piper and Maria Knutson listen to Adam Avila try to encourage the others to take the ice at Treadwell Arena, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Morgan Knutson, Gary Piper and Maria Knutson listen to Adam Avila try to encourage the others to take the ice at Treadwell Arena, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Recovery on Ice: Fun skate celebrates sobriety

Those battling addiction say camraderie and activity help stay sober

Adam Avila wore a full hockey uniform while he skated in Treadwell Ice Arena, but he wasn’t there for a game.

Avila does play league hockey, but he was skating as one of the attendees of the Great Bear Recovery Collective’s Second Annual Disco on Ice: Recovery Ice Skating Party.

“This is my second skating special,” Avila said. “I’ve never met a group of people who were so willing to help each other. There’s one thing we all share in common. It melts all the differences away.”

Great Bear Recovery Collective is a network of people in recovery in Juneau and is partnered with Juneau Alliance for Mental Health Inc. Health & Wellness, Juneau Reentry Coalition, Juneau Opioid Work Group and Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition. The collective is about two years old, said Carrie Amott, peer support coordinator for JAMHI and board member for Great Bear Recovery Collective.

[Master Tlingit carver makes totem for aware as part of recovery journey]

Amott said the second-year skating party attracted a much larger crowd of people than last year’s and many of those in attendance were not people she recognized as being part of the recovery network.

“It’s actually half and half,” Amott said. “A lot of these faces I have seen before. A lot of them, I haven’t.”

Jason Burke and 3-year-old Vinny Burke were there to enjoy an afternoon of skating, disco lights and maybe a cup of complimentary hot chocolate.

“This is our third time skating,” Jason Burke said. “He’s just learning.”

Embracing the program

Avila, who is from Sitka, was one of several people in recovery at the Saturday afternoon event who found their way to the program through Juneau Therapeutic Court, an 18-month program that serves as an alternative to jail time for people with drug or alcohol addictions.

“You’ve got to embrace the program,” said Gary Piper, who is part of the collective thanks to JTC.

[JTC battles addiction]

Morgan Knutson from Haines, another JTC participant, seconded that. They said some members had even made T-shirts bearing that message.

While Knutson had skates on, he didn’t spend a lot of time on the ice. He hadn’t ice skated in a long time and said his tentative time on the slick surface didn’t go well.

Instead, he was enjoying the camaraderie that Avila described.

“It’s a good sober event,” Knutson said. “I get to rub shoulders with my peers and see if I can still ice skate.”

Josh Quintal, a JTC graduate and Bear Recovery Collective board member, had no such problems and was zipping around the ice with his children.

Quintal is three years into recovery from addiction to methamphetamine and has been a Juneau resident for the past 10 years. He said the networking aspect of events like the ice skating party is important.

“It helps to know you’re not alone,” Quintal said. “You can get around some people in recovery with some serious clean time.”

Not just skating

Great Bear Recovery Collective typically plans one special event per month, Amott said, and there is a Recovery Fest every September.

[Local orgainizations celebrate recovery]

Past events have including kayaking and ziplining, which those at the skating party remembered fondly.

The collective also offers support to people in recovery who would like a gym membership, try their hand at art classes or other endeavors, Amott said, and encouraged anyone in recovery to contact her at CarrieA@JAMHI.org or by calling 463-3303 and asking for her.

Great Bear Recovery Collective can be contacted by email at inco@greatbearrecovery.com and by phone at 463-6841.

“It’s just helping them build a new routine or lifestyle so they have something to do,” Amott said.

Avila said that’s what hockey turned into for him.

“That’s occupied a huge part of time for me,” Avila said. “Sobriety’s not boring.”

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com.


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com.


Jason Burke helps Vinny Burke skate at Treadwell Arena Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Jason Burke helps Vinny Burke skate at Treadwell Arena Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Adam Avila said league hockey has been a helpful part of his recovery from addiction during an ice skating event organized by Great Bear Recovery Collective. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Adam Avila said league hockey has been a helpful part of his recovery from addiction during an ice skating event organized by Great Bear Recovery Collective. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

More in Home

Bartlett Regional Hospital’s crisis stabilization center during its unveiling on June 14, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital shuts down programs at recently opened Aurora Behavioral Health Center

Crisis stabalization program halted at center due to lack of funds and staff, officials say.

A car on Gastineau Avenue is partially buried by a mudslide that occurred during record rainfall on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Photo by Simba Blackman)
New July rainfall record set for Juneau with a week to go; Suicide Basin nears 2023 fill level

No more heavy storms expected this month, according to forecaster.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. Board of Trustees votes for a new chair and vice chair during a meeting in Fairbanks on Wednesday. (Screenshot from APFC livestream)
Ellie Rubenstein resigns from Permanent Fund board, Ethan Schutt displaced as chair in wake of email allegations

Trustees elect new chair, vice chair Wednesday morning; Rubenstein announces resignation hours later

Police and other emergency officials treat Steven Kissack after he was shot on Front Street on Monday, July 15, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Names of officers involved in death of Steven Kissack released, along with more details of standoff

JPD states Kissack threatened to kill officers; one officer who fired gun cleared in 2016 shooting.

People arrive for a service at Resurrection Lutheran Church on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Lawsuit: Resurrection Lutheran Church leaders have been ousted, clarity in ‘ministerial work’ needed

Pastor Karen Perkins, two others targeted in long-brewing feud at church known for helping homeless.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, speaks on Jan. 4, 2024, at a town hall meeting on the possible Albertsons-Kroger grocery merger. The meeting was held at the Teamsters Local 959 headquarters in Anchorage. Peltola said on Tuesday she has not decided whether to support her party’s likely candidate, Vice President Kamala Harris. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Rep. Mary Peltola withholds support for Kamala Harris, is ‘keeping an open mind’

Congresswoman says she’s considering Harris presidency’s affect on Alaska as an oil-dependent state.

Michele Stuart Morgan (right), a Juneau Board of Education candidate, signs a qualifying petition for Jeff Redmond (center), who is also seeking one of three school board seats in the Oct. 1 municipal election, just before Monday’s filing deadline at City Hall. At left, Deputy Municipal Clerk Diane Cathcart processes last-minute paperwork filed by candidates. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Here’s the candidates certified for the Oct. 1 municipal election ballot as the filing deadline passes

Two running for mayor, seven for two Assembly seats, six for three school board seats.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter hovers over Sitka Sound during routine hoist training on April 25, 2023. (Lt. Cmdr. Wryan Webb/U.S. Coast Guard)
Coast Guard calls off search for trio who went missing flying from Juneau to Yakutat

Haines pilot Samuel Wright, Yakutat residents Hans Munich and Tanya Hutchins were on plane.

Juneau Municipal Attorney Robert Palmer reacts to praise for his service from Assembly members after his resignation was announced during a May 13 meeting. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Three city attorney finalists to be interviewed in public sessions this week by Juneau Assembly

Two Juneau residents with CBJ experience and D.C.-based Army attorney seek to replace Robert Palmer.

Most Read