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BETWEEN THE LINES

Dobbs Doesn't Need Chains to Take a Drive on the Ice

December 12, 1996|VINCE KOWALICK

Charlie Brown: "Well, how was hockey practice?"

Snoopy: "I don't think the coach likes me. . . . He told me to stand in front of the Zamboni."

Pat Dobbs wouldn't think of making his wrestlers stand in front of a Zamboni.

He'd rather let them drive it.

Dobbs, wrestling coach at Royal High and operations manager at the Iceoplex in North Hills, employs a handful of wrestlers as part-time ice attendants.

Dobbs, a former Marmonte League heavyweight wrestling champion and offensive lineman at Royal before graduating in 1980, has coached wrestling and football at his alma mater for the past six years.

During his day job, Dobbs teaches, uh, driver's training.

"I'm supposed to learn how to drive the Zamboni next," said Ray Torres, a senior and Royal's best wrestler. "That'll be fun."

Driving a 2 1/2-ton, $80,000 tractor on ice might seem like the ultimate power play. But such machinery is not to be toyed with.

Dobbs requires pupils to watch an instructional video and learn proper maintenance of the machine, a popular fixture at ice rinks since its invention in 1947 by the late Frank J. Zamboni.

"We have three on the premises and we treat them like limos," Dobbs said. "Without a quality Zamboni, you don't get quality ice."

Dobbs' appearance during intermission are well-received. Children press their faces to the glass as Dobbs cruises past, smoothing the rink's surface while cruising in circles at 5 mph.

"I get a lot of questions about it," Dobbs said. "I tell people it's like driving a luxury automobile with the power of a bulldozer."

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