Hamilton Skating Club holding anniversary gala next month
It will be a chance for young and old to swap stories and recall their skating exploits of years gone by.
The Hamilton Skating Club is marking its 75th anniversary with a gala at the Dave Andreychuk-Mountain Arena and Skating Centre on April 6.
Ice will be removed from the skating centre oval so that past and present skating club members can enjoy dinner, music and dancing.
A skating show is slated for the arena next door with Canadian silver medalist and 2006 Olympian Shawn Sawyer one of the featured performers.
“It’s going to be an exciting evening,” said skating club managing director Brenda Bradica who is expecting 500 people to attend. “We’ve got people coming back from the ‘40s and ‘50s.”
The club dates back to the fall of 1938 when skating programs were run out of the old Forum on Barton Street and at the Victoria curling rink.
In the mid ‘60s the organization became known as the Hamilton Stoney Creek Skating Club under presidents Bill Oddi and Charles Dover.
It was also during the ‘60s that Bradica began her long association with the club.
“I wanted to learn to skate,” Bradica recalled.
She would go on to become a club coach and later managing director.
In the ‘70s Bradica said the club would hold their lessons and events at a number of local rinks including the Stoney Creek Arena, Scott Park, Rosedale Lawfield, Mountain and the Barton Double Rinks.
During that time the club continued the grow under head coach Neil Carpenter and became home of national and international figure skaters such as Ron Shaver (the club’s first Olympian) Cheri and Dennis Pinner, Heather Kemkaren, Karyn Connelly, Allen Simoni, Brian Nilson, Astrid Jansen and Monique Jansen.
The mid ‘70s saw the club run popular summer programs out of the new Lawfield Arena.
Previously local skaters would have to travel to Galt, St. Thomas, London or Toronto to train in the off-season.
All of the moving between arenas would end in 1989 when a skating centre with an Olympic-size ice surface was built on the site of some old tennis courts adjacent to Mountain Arena on Hester Street.
With the move to their new home, the organization changed its name back to the Hamilton Skating Club.
The skating centre saw some upgrades in 2004.
“It gave us the opportunity for growth and development,” said Bradica.
“It’s so nice to come to one rink…and not to have to be driving all over the place,” added Christy Baltzer, a club coach who began skating with the group as a five-year-old in 1974.
Her mother, 85-year-old Mary Nunn, is a former board official and honourary member and her four-year-old daughter Abbie is learning to skate there.
The new oval also became home to Bryce Davison, who joined the club at age seven and went on to compete at the national, world and Olympic levels in pairs skating before retiring from competing in 2011.
Bradica estimated the club averaged 200-300 members in the early years.
Those numbers continued grow and for the past four years the club has reported a membership in excess of 1,000.
Many are the children and grandchildren of people who learned to skate at the club in previous decades.
Davison, now a Hamilton Skating Club coach, noted the Mountain facility boasts one of the largest skating organizations in the area.
“It’s always had a great feel in the rink as a skater and a great feeling of support from the board and the coaches,” he said.
Jodie Dawson, who joined the club in 1980 and is now a coach there, said a desire by young boys and girls to learn to skate has kept the membership numbers solid.
“Whether it’s to play hockey or to be a figure skater, everybody just wants to be able to skate,” she said.
The club’s CanSkate program that teaches children age 3 to 10 how to skate has about 400 youngsters with roughly equal numbers of boys and girls.
For ticket information on the 75th anniversary gala, see: hamiltonskating.org.