Fifty years is a long time for a club to exist and be successful! Just ask Dottie Vassar, one of the founders as well as the first president of Westminster FSC of Erie. In 1958, Dottie, along with others in the Erie area, started the club to promote greater interest in figure skating in the Erie area, in the hopes that one day, the need for an artificial rink would be realized. The club's members skated outdoors on Dauphin Park Pond from 1959 to 1963 (see below right, Dottie is far left), with the club paying boys and girls $1/hour to clear the snow from the pond! In 1964, their dream was realized when construction was completed on the J.M. Cochran Ice Arena.
The club has been a member of United States Figure Skating since 1965 and Dottie, now at age 88, continues to be actively involved in the club's success. In addition to being an active board member, Dottie attends Professional Skaters Association seminars, coaches, and runs the U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills program. (Below is Dottie with student Corey Philips) The coaching staff of 11 dedicate themselves to providing the best recreational and competitive skating programs for students of all levels and ages. The staff, by the way, includes National and world competitor Caryn Kadavy, who recently returned from touring with Katarina Witt and Brian Boitano on Katarina's farewell tour in Germany.
Marge Hetz, board member and hospitality chair, said that the club has grown to 120+ members and she and the board hope to increase membership and keep the current members "happy and continuing to skate." The club is now busily preparing for its annual Springtime On Ice show, aptly entitled 50 Years of Memories. The event will be held at the Mercyhurst College Ice Arena on Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, April 13, at 2 p.m.
At right is Dottie, with skaters Emily and Katie Hetz, from the 2007 Springtime on Ice show.
The Spring on Ice show will include 109 club members and also some guest skaters, including: 12-year-old Andrew Nagode, who is the 2008 Intermediate Regional Men's Champion and a four-time Men's junior national competitor, ice dancers Katie Wyble and Justin Morrow, who placed fifth in the novice division at the recent 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota, and pairs skaters Marissa Spector and Alex Darnell, who compete in the novice division. Caryn has choreographed a few of the numbers in the show, including the opening number Everything's Coming Up Roses. Marge is particularly looking forward to the second number entitled On the Pond, where skaters will re-enact the beginnings of the club 50 years ago at Dauphin Park Pond, complete with 1950s attire and music.
(The Clubs Count segments highlight the great work of skating clubs from around the world. Clubs form the backbone of our sport, nurturing the love of skating at all levels, sponsoring upcoming champions and forming a supportive environment for children and adults alike. If you would like to highlight the great work of your club, please drop me an e-mail at susan(AT)icedigitalmedia(DOT)net. Thank you and for more great club profiles, click here!)