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 Typhoon 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.
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.
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.
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.
Skating on the Brandywine!
How many memories are evoked in the minds of the
charter members of The Skating Club of Wilmington
of ice skating in the area, limited
to a few days of winter when the Brandywine River
and nearby lakes and ponds were frozen. It
was in March of 1964 that The Skating Club of Wilmington
opened its indoor skating rink and
ice skating became possible for nine and a half months a year.
The history of The Skating Club,
however, begins prior to 1964.
Predecessors of The Skating Club of Wilmington
In the late 1940's, Mr. Frederick Chorlton Mitchell
recognized the need for an ice rink and,
while participating in a Hobby Show sponsored by the Wilmington Lions Club in conjunction
with Recreation, Promotion and Service, Inc., he solicited the names of 200 people who had a
genuine interest in ice skating.
Eventually, through Mr. Mitchell's untiring efforts, an
was built at Price Run Park with private financing by local philanthropist, Mr. William
Laird, and operated by Recreation, Promotion and Service.
The Price Run Rink opened on
February 14, 1955, with portable ice-making machinery that was experimental. A few
of The Skating Club of Wilmington still remember the often windy, snowy and even rainy
of outdoor skating.
By March 1956, it was clear that there was
sufficient public interest in ice
skating to form a club and a small group of persons,
headed by Mr. Louis P. Holladay, III and
Mr. Mitchell, contacted those who had expressed an interest, thus forming the
Wilmington Skating Club.
By October 1956, the Constitution of the
Wilmington Skating Club was adopted with Mr. Holladay as first President and Mr.
Hicks Lawrence, Jr. as Vice President and the first Club skating session was held at the Price
Run Rink. Also, during that time, the Club applied to the USFSA for membership, and on
February 4, 1957 it was accepted as a USFSA Probationary Member Club with Full
being granted in 1958.
The Wilmington Skating Club used the facilities at Price
Run Rink until
that rink closed at the end of the 1959-60 season because of ice-making problems. During the
next two years the Club skated at Cliff Thael's indoor studio ice rink on Penny Hill with Mr.
Mitchell as its President. It was there, during the second year, that members became
with Mr. Philip W. Fraser, the studio's new Professional and Manager.
Formation and Construction of The Skating Club of Wilmington
With increased local interest in ice skating, it became
evident that a full-sized enclosed rink was
needed. A tremendous canvass headed by Mr. Lawrence raised $1,200, in $5 contributions, for
a study of plans for a rink and availability of a site. At the same time it was decided that the
operation should take a new name and on March 3, 1961 THE SKATING CLUB OF
WILMINGTON was incorporated.
The Club applied to the USFSA for a change of club title
which was readily granted. Land was located on which the rink could be built and, after
and many other complications, The Skating Club of Wilmington took title on June 15, 1961.
five and a half acres purchased cost $37,500, for which the Club borrowed the money.
In 1962, Mr. E. Nelson Edwards, architect for the
Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane
Society in Ardmore, was engaged by the Club to draw up plans for the construction of the
rink. In August 1962, the Club filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission a
statement covering $300,000 Sinking Fund Debenture Bonds due in 1993. A number of civic
minded individuals and some of the Club members subscribed to these bonds to the total
Ground breaking ceremonies for the rink took place on
June 15, 1963 when a group
of people, including Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Mitchell, poured crushed ice on the ground as a
gesture symbolic of laying a smooth ice surface. The land and building, including various
equipment, cost just under $600,000, of which about 83% was borrowed. This was a large
undertaking for a private club with 256 charter members and credit goes to those optimistic
dedicated people who insisted that "it could be done".
On March 20, 1964, the members finally skated on their
own ice for the first time, and on April
12 there was an official opening with exhibitions by Canadian and American champions and
general celebration by the membership, the Staff and the Club's only Professional, Mr. Fraser.
Although the first season was very short, it was nevertheless successful with its new figure
skating and hockey programs.
The First 25 Years, 1964 - 1989
In 1965, locker rooms were added to the original bare
bones structure, and in succeeding years
the Frederick C. Mitchell Lounge, the upstairs kitchen, bleachers, show lighting,
audio system, and the ceiling insulation of silver batting were also added. The professional
grew from one to as many as fifteen for several years. The original full-time staff of three, a
manager, a bookkeeper and a superintendent, was doubled, and sometimes tripled. The rink
in such demand that for years it was open 24 hours a day.
The Club started operating a summer figure skating school
in 1965, and a summer hockey camp
in 1970. Over the years it also hosted a number of Philadelphia Area, South Atlantic and
figure skating championships, as well as its own
SCW Club Competition and the still
existing Skate Wilmington Summer Competition.
The Brandywine Blades Spring Show
was an annual event for many years and IceScapes Summer
Exhibition still continues.
The Wilmington Wheels hockey
program was organized by Charter Member Joseph A. Wheelock
who also served as the first coach. The Wheels were named in his honor.
The excellent reputation of the Club program has been maintained
by the dedication of his many successors over the years.
Insignia Items (pins, tie tacks,
charms, tie bars), now collectors' items, were designed and made
by well-known artist, silversmith and Gold member, Mrs. Eleanor C.
Nichols. Mrs. Nichols originally created the SCW pin and other SCW
jewelry in the late 1960s. Her design was adapted in 1969 by
Charter Member, Mrs. Alice R. Edinger, for the Club Logogram,
Newsletterhead and Handbook cover. Many other uses of both the original
and the adaptation have since followed.
In 1980, the non-profit SCW Foundation, Inc.
was established with the objective of
affordable skating to teams, competitors and the community at large by receiving and
tax-deductible donations of funds and in kind.
A number of new membership categories,
both full and associate, were instituted and also a number
of new skating programs for both members and
non-members, thus enabling the Club to serve an ever wider market.
The Next 25 Years, 1989 -
In the spring of 1989, the Club sold 2.72 acres of its
undeveloped land to finance major
renovations of the rink and convert it to a year-round facility. The renovations took three
months to complete, cost $700,000 and resulted in a new refrigeration system, new electrical
equipment, longer ice surface, totally enclosed new barrier, hockey boxes, new rubber
renovated skate shop, new rental shop, and remodeled Office. In 1990 a new Zamboni was
purchased for $43,000. In 1995, the arches holding up the roof were
refurbished at a cost of $100,000. The next season, new heating
and light systems were installed.
Other important work awaits attention and will be
addressed as time and
In April of 1995, SCW was privileged
to host the very first United States Adult Figure Skating
Championships sanctioned by the USFSA.
It was such a resounding success that it has become a large annual
event, commonly known as "Adult Nationals",
which can only be held at locations with several ice surfaces.
In March of 1997, SCW hosted its first annual Adult Open
Competition, a non-qualifying competition.
Since its inception, SCW has offered
a General Membership which had unlimited transfer privileges and
lower dues than the Regular Membership which was also offered.
A General Membership was purchased from a list of those for sale
by former General Members who had resigned in good standing
for the original 1960s price, that is $500 for Multiple Skating
privileges or $300 for a Basic or Individual Skating Privilege
which was payable directly to the original owner.
General memberships were limited in number and originally
served the purpose of bringing in capital contributions to
help construct the Club building. As time passed, the resale
value of these memberships was determined to be negligible
because so few were sold from the available list.
The Board of Directors passed a resolution in 1996 to eliminate
and retire all General memberships not currently in use.
In the 1996-1997 Club year,
the Wilmington Wheels hockey program changed their name to the
Wilmington Typhoons. The Club's hockey program was converted from a Club
program to a rental ice program beginning with the 2002-2003 Club year.
On February 19th, 2004 one of our most loved members and a
guiding light to SCW passed away. Emory Mersereau (81) epitomized the
heart and soul of the Club for 40 years. His legacy will live on through its members, staff and professionals.
will continue to guide it during the years ahead to its 50th
celebration in 2014.
Based on "History of the Club"
written in 1976 by Eleanor H. Wagner; revised in
1989-90 by Peter A. Bilous, Brenda S. Fedorak and Elizabeth B. Ingersoll,
and again in 1996-1997 by Martha C. Baumeister, Dorothy D. Gualtieri,
Valerie S. Pease and Carole S. Smith. Last paragraph revised by Don Thureau on 2/22/04.