By Josh Brown
TROY — The Troy Skating Club has been coping with a great loss since late 2017, with the passing of one of its most prolific members.
This week, though, they will be able to honor her in the perfect way.
The Troy Skating Club, already slated to host its yearly summer competition this week, renamed the event after the late Kathy Slack — a member of the Club for more than 50 years who poured everything she had into the competition each year — as Hobart Arena will now play host to the newly-christened 43rd annual Kathy Slack Troy Summer Competition from July 12-15 — an event that is free to the public to attend.
Slack, referred to by many as the matriarch of the Troy Skating Club, was a big part of the competition every year. She served as a board member and was the Club’s treasurer last year, and in 2016 she was given the Jimmy Disbrow Award for her “passionate spirit of dedication and volunteerism” to figure skating. She was also a competition judge and a team leader — including serving as team leader for the U.S. team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Slack was even honored by the city of Troy, as July 11, 2014 was declared “Kathy Slack Day” by Mayor Michael Beamish.
“Unfortunately, we did lose Kathy this year,” Troy Skating Club Skating Director Leah Shirey said. “She’s consistently been recognized in Troy for her work in the skating community. It’s been extremely hard for us. We were thinking about the best ways to honor her memory, and this felt like the right thing to do.
“She loved the summer competition. She worked tirelessly to turn it into what it is now, and so it made perfect sense to name it after her.”
The competition itself will also be bigger and better than ever. Last year’s competition was the first after Hobart Arena’s recent renovations were completed, and the Club used that time to figure out how best to put the new and improved facilities to use. After last year’s trial run, the summer competition will be at peak performance.
“Absolutely. During the first competition with the new renovations, we made some adjustments — and we got nothing but good compliments after,” Shirey said. “The only thing anyone really complained about was that it’s so big that they got lost, but we’ve created maps to help with that.
“The Arena is just so nice. People really appreciated the better locker rooms last year, and we split the Bravo Room in two and had our hospitality services there. That was extremely well received, too.”
Last year, the competition boasted roughly 180 skaters, with 2016’s being the competition’s biggest year. The competition in 2017 took place a week later than normal — Shirey said at the time that it typically takes place the same weekend as Country Concert — but with the Fourth of July holiday taking place on a Tuesday, the Troy Skating Club didn’t want to interfere with people’s holiday place. This year, the Fourth of July was on a Wednesday, putting the competition in the same situation in being the week after Country Concert ends.
This year, the Kathy Slack Troy Summer Competition will boast nearly 200 skaters, including skaters from Troy and the surrounding Miami County area, all of Ohio, the Midwest and even beyond.
The competition began in 1974 and has consistently been a big draw for the area — which Shirey credits to the facility and, maybe more so, the city itself.
“They do (love to come here),” she said. “We’ve been really fortunate to be able to do this competition for so long. With Hobart Arena, our facilities were already one of the best in the area — and with the renovations, it’s easily the best. And people love the town, too. The competition is within walking distance of the downtown area, which is just charming and better than what some people are used to coming to this kind of competitions.
“Troy is just a really great town for this. The city is what keeps people coming back for our competition year after year.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.