The Skokie Valley Skating Club (SVSC), currently with nearly 300 members in the northern suburbs of Chicago, IL, started with 30 members who skated on an outdoor rink.
When the Club became a member of the United States Figure Skating Association in 1949, it comprised about 30 skaters who met to ice dance on outdoor natural ice at various country clubs. Dinner and socializing followed the skating.
In 1963 near what was then Dyche Stadium in Evanston (part of Northwestern University), an outdoor ice surface was opened--with artificial ice. SVSC purchased ice time there and the skaters were happy to know they could count on good skating and that warm temperatures wouldn't make the ice disappear! The lake wind was mighty, but the ice surface was good and measured 85'x185'. This was a time remembered for skating in both sunshine and snow.
During this early period SVSC also skated indoors occasionally at Saddle and Cycle Club in Chicago. The rink was small (50x150) and not heated, but the fact that it was indoors was appreciated. In the tradition already started, dinner and socializing followed--plus a group sing!
From 1958 to 1968 members of SVSC performed in various ice shows given by the Evanston and Winnetka Park Districts. These shows were presented outdoors on natural ice.
The Hubbard Woods studio rink in Winnetka (open from around the mid '50s to around the mid '70s) introduced new people to figure skating, many of whom joined SVSC. The ice surface was approximately 60 x 100. There are records of the Club scheduling patch ice there for our juniors.
Curtis Curling Center, an indoor curling rink was built in Wilmette in the mid-sixties and the Club purchased ice there also. The surface was small by today's standards (50 x 150) but again being indoors was appreciated. Our junior membership in the 1967-68 season numbered 30.
Around 1969 interest in building indoor Park district rinks began on the North Shore. The Northbrook rink was first in 1969. SVSC purchased ice there around 1971. In 1972 another rink opened in Winnetka where we also purchased ice. Skokie Valley Skating Club found a third home in Wilmette with that rink which was built in 1975. We then were skating in three different Park District rinks, an arrangement that continues today.
In 1971, Margaretta Drake (a founding member & first president of SVSC) started a wonderful Exhibition featuring 5 or 6 guest skaters of National and International ranking. Skokie Valley continued holding those performances until 1987. Brian Boitano, Scott Hamilton, Paul Wylie, the Santee brothers, Janet Lynn and Rosalyn Sumners were among the soloists. Peter & Kitty Caruthers and Lea Ann Miller & Bill Fauver were invited to present pairs. Dance Champions Stacey Smith & John Summers and Judy Blumberg & Michael Siebert performed in our exhibitions as well.
Through those years (1971-1987) there were so many National and Olympic contenders at our Exhibitions that it would be impossible to mention them all. Our junior club competitors who were scheduled to compete at the Upper Great Lakes Regionals also performed their competition programs.
Though we still hold our Annual Exhibition featuring our competitive skaters, once eligible skaters were allowed to accept payment for performances (in 1987) the Club could not afford the cost of guest skaters.
The number of skater tests given every year has grown to 800 as of 2006. Since 1970 the Club has also sponsored a Regional Championship, a Sectional Championship, many dance weekends and several judges schools.
SVSC progressed in 50 years from outdoor country club natural ice & socializing to skating sessions in three indoor rinks. Club membership has increased from about 30 to 421 registered as of June 30, 2007. SVSC members have competed in the Senior and Adult National Championships, Junior World, and Junior National Championships. One thing has not changed, SVSC members still enjoy having dinners and socializing!
Tribute to Shirley Sherman
Dr. Al Gerbie