The Skokie Valley Skating Club: From outdoor beginnings to Olympic glory.

The Skokie Valley Skating Club (SVSC) began with 30 members who skated on an outdoor rink and became a member of U.S. Figure Skating in 1949. These 30 skaters 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 would not make the ice disappear! The lake wind was mighty, but the ice surface was good and measured 85′ x 185′. 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 (50′ x 150′) and not heated, but the fact that it was indoors was appreciated. A tradition started when skaters gathered for dinner and socializing followed by 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 (opened around the mid ’50s and closed 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 Junior skaters.

Curtis Curling Center, an indoor curling rink, was built in Wilmette in the mid ‘60s and the club purchased ice there as well. 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 built first in 1969. SVSC purchased ice there in 1971. In 1972, another rink opened in Winnetka where the club also purchased ice. SVSC found a third home in Wilmette with a rink that was built in 1975. We 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. SVSC 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 and Kitty Caruthers and Lea Ann Miller and Bill Fauver were invited to present pairs. Dance Champions Stacey Smith and John Summers and Judy Blumberg and 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 exhibitions 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.

Lou Sherman served as SVSC President for over 3 decades from the ‘70s through the ‘90s. Lou is remembered as a kind man who loved to make people laugh and was loved by all who knew him.

Our number of skating 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.

Our club President, Cathy Clarry, passed away suddenly in 2003. In her memory and to recognize her contributions as a board member, judge, coach, skater and high school teacher, we created the Cathy Clarry Memorial Scholarship Fund.

We are proud to have Jason Brown as a long-term SVSC member. Jason was a 2014 Olympic team event bronze medalist in Sochi, Russia, and the 2015 U.S. National Champion. Jason competed at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, China, earning a personal best score.

As an SVSC member, Bradie Tennell was a 2018 Olympic team event bronze medalist and a two-time U.S. National Champion in 2018 and 2021.

SVSC has grown quite a bit since 1949, from outdoor country club natural ice and socializing to skating sessions in three indoor rinks. Club membership has increased from about 30 members to more than 500. SVSC members have competed at the Olympics, the World Championships, Senior and Adult National Championships, Junior Worlds and Junior National Championships.

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