Recent History – 2001
By Yose Cormier, Daily News Staff
There was reason to celebrate Saturday as the Dawson Creek Speedskating Club celebrated 45 years of existence.
Gathered at the curling rink, close to 100 people including a list of who’s who in Dawson Creek speedskating history took part in a supper, loonie auction, and a social.
It was a time to reminisce as two walls were covered with articles from past speedskating achievements courtesy of Jean Braden, who spent countless hours arranging the articles in chronological order.
It was also a time to talk to former coaches and teammates.
The highlight of the night was the presentation of an award to Pat Underhill, who founded the club in 1955 with the help of Archie Field and Bud Geer.
“It’s wonderful to see all the old faces,” said Underhill, although she had to admit some did take some guess work to recall.
Underhill moved away in 1965, but was recognized for her lifetime contribution to sport and promotion of girls and women in sport by Promotion Plus, an organization that promotes women and girls in sport and physical activity in the province.
The award was presented by Sandi Vyse-Lloyd who was a skater in Dawson Creek before moving to Kamloops where she started the speedskating club there.
“I’ve known Pat all my life. She won the award a while back, but because she couldn’t be there, it was accepted by a member of the BC Speedskating Association,” she said.
Vyse-Lloyd began skating with Underhill’s son when they were both two years old.
Underhill began the Dawson Creek club after she started skating, and wanted to have a place where skaters could get ice time.
“It was hard to get ice time and the community had given a lot to me so I wanted to give back,” she said.
The club provided skates to those who didn’t have any, and were passed around from skater to skater. Parents and skaters held fundraisers, and everybody helped each other out.
Dawson Creek was the first club in Dawson Creek and of the 21 clubs now in BC, 12 can be traced back to Dawson Creek. Among club founders present were the Bodner’s who started the Fort St. John Club, and Clara and Howard Overend who started a number of clubs in BC. Howard also published the first “Racer” magazine, which has become the speedskating magazine of Canada.
“As skaters from here left, they founded clubs wherever they went. And everything stems from Pat. Her students and her students’ students founded these clubs,” said Vyse.
Also at the gathering were, among others, some of the Hadlands, McLeods, Bumsteads. Fay Clease, one of the first skaters of the club was also on hand. In fact, she helped organize the whole thing. Another of the organizers, Donna (McLeod) Alexander was also among the first skaters the club produced.
“It was great to see many of the old skaters. Also, a number of today’s young skaters were there too, as were some officials,” said Alexander.
Now, the club looks towards the 50th anniversary, and hope to continue the winning tradition of the club.