News

Skatium Legacy Class of 2014 to be inducted

(12.15.14) The Skatium Ice Arena will officially announce its hockey Legacy Class of 2014 on December 16 at 6 p.m., in a ceremony at the venerable Skokie Park District rink. The new legends names will be engraved in brick and laid into the Skatium’s outdoor legacy brickyard. 

The Skatium is located at 9300 Weber Park Place in Skokie.

The class of 2014 includes:

Leon “Mike” Astor – A 24-year fixture at the Skatium, Mike was a volunteer scorekeeper and P.A. announcer for thousands of hockey games. In addition he also worked as a rink guard and golf course starter. His outgoing personality and contagious laughter made him one of the most popular figures in Skatium history. Mike passed away in 1997.

Gary Como – Gary worked at the Skatium when it first opened its doors in 1973 and he may have been the first person to drive the rink’s Zamboni. Gary’s real claim to fame is his accomplished career as a professional hockey official, after first having worked amateur games at the Skatium and throughout Illinois. Gary worked as an on-ice official in the old World Hockey Association and later as an off-ice official in the National Hockey League and the International and American Hockey Leagues.

Clayton “Pat” Condon – Perhaps the most influential coach in Skatium hockey history, Pat coached for the original Skokie hockey program –  the Skokie Chiefs – from 1973-79, developing many of the players who advanced to higher levels of hockey, including his son Kevin, Adam Glickman, Steve Andrews and Mark Zietlin.

Jacob Heller – Jacob learned hockey from his father Lew in Skatium Mighty Mite classes in the late 1980s. Jacob then blossomed into a tremendous defenseman playing for the Skokie Amateur Hockey Association’s Skokie Flyers before playing AAA hockey, Major Canadian Junior Hockey and finally settling into a professional career with the Johnstown Jets of the East Coast Professional Hockey League.

Lew Heller – A current and longtime hockey instructor and coach at the Skatium, Lew has been a tremendously dedicated and loyal mentor for Skatium hockey players of all ages. Many participants in the rink’s hockey program return to Skatium classes because of Coach Lew, specifically asking for him to be their instructor.

Jay Jacobs – After growing up in nearby Evanston, Jay called the Skatium his home rink, where he played numerous games of pick-up hockey and adult hockey, as well as playing for the UIC Flames when they called the Skatium home. At the same time Jay worked regularly as an official for the prominent Skatium adult hockey league, which catapulted him to a very distinguished 28-year career as a professional hockey official in the International and American Hockey Leagues. In 2010 Jay was inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame.

Andy McElman – Andy, a promising young hockey official, regularly worked the highly competitive Skatium adult hockey league throughout the 1980s. He then went on to a very impressive 22-year career in the National Hockey League as a linesman, where he is still active today. Andy was inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.

James Nelson – The Skatium’s most popular hockey instructor from the 1980s to mid-2000s, “Coach Jim” worked countless hours teaching early Sunday morning Mighty Mite Learn-to-Skate classes. To a small child playing hockey for the first time, perhaps no one made a better first impression than Coach Jim. Many of his players are still playing the game, due to Jim’s unique ability to develop skills while emphasizing fun.

Virginia Pasowicz – Virginia coached her son’s Skatium adult league team, the Firebirds, to great success in the late 1970s. She then made her mark as an administrator, where she – for more than 20 years – enhanced and helped run Skatium adult leagues from the scorekeeper’s box. 

Joseph Prescott – A Rogers Park native, Joe made the Skatium his home, spending many hours playing hockey at the Skatium for Loyola University and later in adult leagues. He then traded his stick in for a whistle, pursuing a career as a referee. Joe worked regularly as an official in the Skatium adult league in the late 1970s and early 1980s, before advancing to a distinguished professional officiating career. Joe worked all levels of professional and college hockey, including a stint in the NHL. After his officiating career, Joe continued to give back to the great game of hockey as a national and local leader of amateur hockey, including USA Hockey and Amateur Hockey of Illinois. Joe is a member of the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame as both a Player and an Official.

Sue Varon-Spector – The first Skatium hockey director, from 1980-87, Sue created many of the rink’s current successful hockey programs, the foundations of which have been adopted by hockey programs throughout the country. Sue was also a tremendous instructor and coach, and made her mark as one of the first female hockey officials. Her highly-innovative approach to the game landed her in the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame both as a Builder and as an Official.

Norm and Holly Spiegel – Skatium hockey would not be the success that it is today if not for the influence of Norm and Holly Spiegel. Soon after their children, Nicki and Jason, fist donned skates at the Skatium, Norm became Skokie Amateur Hockey Association president in the 1980s. He later became president of the Amateur Hockey Association Illinois (AHAI), and then a prominent leader in many different capacities for USA Hockey. While Norm was working amateur hockey at the national level, Holly worked as the AHAI registrar for 15 years. People in Illinois hockey had no problem putting up with the tediousness of Illinois hockey administration because of the pleasantries in dealing with Holly as the AHAI registrar. Norm and Holly are both members of the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame.

Scott Zelkin – In the 1980s, Scott became one of the youngest officials ever to work the highly competitive Skatium adult hockey league. His rare talents as a hockey referee at the Skatium led him to even bigger opportunities in college and minor professional hockey, culminating in his distinguished 10-year career as a referee in the National Hockey League. Scott is currently on the national staff of USA Hockey and became a member of the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.