The Skating Club of Wilmington (SCW) is a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) corporation which operates as a multi-faceted club primarily focused on ice skating in all its forms and those other activities which support or enhance ice skating. It caters to all age groups and strives to have a practical mix of hockey, serious competitors, figure skaters, ice dancers, synchronized skating teams, recreational skaters, and community service while preventing any one activity from growing so large as to prevent the proper serving of any other group. It also emphasizes the health and fitness benefits of ice skating to all. What you have just read is The Skating Club of Wilmington’s mission statement.
In a nation concerned that even its children are becoming couch potatoes, skating keeps youngsters and adults active and fit. Its seeming grace belies its difficulty. Skaters must learn self-discipline, work ethic, close attention to detail and the importance of practice. They receive grounding in the arts, especially music and dance. Young skaters learn to interact well with each other and with adults. They learn good manners. They learn to be on time. They acquire self-confidence and they gain self-esteem. Adult skaters also enjoy acquiring new skills and the challenge of improving their performance.
Skating is often a family sport, which children, parents and sometimes grandparents can enjoy together. Mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, practice ice dancing together. It is a sport for all ages. The Skating Club of Wilmington offers Parent-and-Tot classes, youth and adult classes. Some of our adults are 50 years old, and several are in their 70’s and 80s. The organization began as a private club. It still operates as a club; one of about five ice rinks in the United States, owned and operated by its members. Today’s members are a diverse group, and membership fees are structured so almost any family or individual can join this friendly supportive organization. Public sessions offer an inexpensive option for occasional recreational skaters.
The rink’s activities try to include those who might otherwise never experience ice skating, through open houses, birthday parties and through such programs as “Skate with Santa” and lunch with the Easter bunny for children whose mothers have fled abusive situations for women’s shelters. Some of these shelters are Child, Inc., Children and Family First and the YWCA. The Skating Club of Wilmington would like to do more. Groups from public and private schools visit the rink each month to skate and often to receive skating instruction. Far more would like to come. General Manager, Peter Bilous, says he could fill the rink with school groups every day, but their requests must be balanced with other demands for ice time. The Skating Club of Wilmington also operates ice skating camps and hockey summer day camps; hosts group outings for physically or mentally disabled youngsters, offers skating parties for organized groups such as YMCA and YWCA, and provides Merit Badge testing for Boy and Girl Scouts.
Hockey programs through the Wilmington Nighthawks Youth Hockey organization and a Men’s League are offered to several hundred skaters. The Skating Club of Wilmington has also offered a learn to skate program jointly with the New Castle County Parks and Recreation Department. Many schools have requested ice time for their own hockey programs. With its present facilities, the rink is not always able to meet all requests.
An active conditioning and physical fitness program, with one of the best arrays of fitness equipment in the area, supports the hockey program and is also available to figure skaters. The fitness equipment must be housed in a room also used for membership meetings, ballet and other dance classes, receptions, recognition ceremonies, etc. All these programs feel the space crunch.
The Skating Club of Wilmington offers public classes in ice skating for all ages from tots through adults. As they learn, these students have the opportunity to perform for family and friends, and to earn badges for their skating accomplishments. Private instruction is available from professional coaches with impressive backgrounds in every area of skating. Several of our coaches are former Olympians.
As skaters progress, they may, if they choose, participate in competitions, gaining experience in poise and in good sportsmanship. The Skating Club of Wilmington hosts local competitions and exhibitions, and helps its skaters appear in similar events at other area rinks. It sponsors its more skilled skaters as they move into regional and national competition. In the 80’s and 90’s, Kitty and Peter Carruthers, Gillian Wachsman & Todd Waggoner, and Calla Urbanski (with Rocky Marvel), all of whom have represented SCW, competed in the Pairs Events in 4 different Olympic games. The Skating Club of Wilmington’s skater, Jamie Loper, became a professional and now tours with Disney on Ice. Not many young competitors reach such peaks. But each one will gain poise, learn valuable lessons and enjoy the thrill of accomplishment.
The Skating Club of Wilmington is known widely for its programs for adults. In 1995, it hosted the first U.S. Adult National Figure Skating Championships. The event drew close to 500 skaters and their families from all over America to Wilmington. It was such a success that the United States Figure Skating Association made it a yearly event and ironically it has grown too large to be accommodated in Wilmington, where it all began. The rink also regularly hosts adult competitions, which draw competitors from as far away as France. Ice Dance is especially popular among adult skaters. The Skating Club of Wilmington’s ice dancing coaches come from around the world, and many were champions in their homelands. The Skating Club of Wilmington offers the opportunity to practice ice dance daily, and to test and progress from the easier to the most difficult ice dance. At weekly dance sessions, adult skaters dance with each other and with professionals, combining athletic and social pleasure. Skaters from other rinks visit The Skating Club of Wilmington to take part in its ice dance programs, and the demand for ice time for dance, as for other activities has exceeded the rink’s capacity.
Adults also are encouraged to volunteer help in all rink activities, serving the community and helping strengthen families. Volunteers may attend seminars to acquire and improve such skills as judging, accounting and announcing for figure skating tests and competitions. And like skaters, judges, accountants and announcers may work their way up to national skating events. Clinics are also provided for hockey coaches and referees.
All these activities and more, for instance, a summer day camp for children during school vacation, could be expanded to serve the community better with expanded facilities. New worlds could be opened for many youngsters and adults alike. And northern Delaware could enhance its already national reputation as a center for figure skating.