Roller Garden Artistic Skating Club is the product of mergers of several clubs throughout the years, but it had its origins as the Cheep Skate Dance & Figure Club, housed at the Cheep Skate Roller Rink on Cedar Lake Road in Minnetonka, Minnesota. It was originated by Lou and Sue Kubalak in cooperation with Jim Robertson, rink manager, in 1976. At the close of the first year, there were 29 official club members. In 1979-80, the membership hit its peak of 129 members.
The first proficiency tests were given in November, 1976. The first meet skated by club members (3 entries, one trophy) occurred the same month at the Tri-State meet in Rochester, MN.
Two skaters were awarded the first Regionals placements for the club in June, 1981. In 1982, 9 skaters placed. In 1991 we had our first skaters go to JO Nationals with 8 qualifying for 10 events.
In April of 1979, the group lesson program was initiated. It was the precursor of our current Star Patch program.
In 1980-81, freestyle and free dance skating was added to the club, creating the need for a name change in 1982 to the Cheep Skate Artistic Skating Club.
In 1987, Diane Brown took on the role of Head Pro, after the retirement of Bob Alwine from that position. In 2002, she became the North Central Regional Chairperson.
When the sister Cheep Skate rink in Coon Rapids was sold in March of 1992, the club split in two, forming a new "Gold Skate Club." In 1997, some of the Gold Skate members transferred back to the Cheep Skate Minnetonka club.
In 2001 we had our first National placement - Nick Nylin won a silver medal in Figures. 2003 saw our first National Champions - Sharon Johnson won Novice Ladies Figures and Nevin Nylin won the JO IB Mens Figure event.
In May of 2003, the Cheep Skate Minnetonka rink was sold and closed. Roller Garden in St. Louis Park welcomed the displaced club. With the change in location came the new name for the club.
In January 2010, Dan Briner was welcomed to the teaching staff, and several skaters also transferred their membership from Burnsville to Roller Garden. Diane Brown joined Mary Nylin in becoming an AC3 Level Coach.
Cheep Skate ASC Club jacket,
circa 1994, above
In 2012, RGASC Coach Rachel Dols became a certified Nationals Panel judge, and served in that capacity for the first time at the National Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska. Roshni Muralidharan received her coaching accreditation in 2012 as well, making her the eighth coach part of RGASC. Rachel and Roshni have since moved out of the area.
In 2018, Diane Brown retired from her position as head coach, and Dan Briner assumed that role.
This patch, from the 1940s, represents the first time the building housed a roller rink. R.S.R.O.A. stands for Roller Skating Rinks Operators Association.
The sticker above, also from the 1940s, would have been put on a skater's metal skate case to transport their skates. There were roller skating rink sticker collecting clubs where skaters collected and traded these. The stickers on skate cases were great advertising for the rink while showing where the skater's favorite rinks were located.
Skaters at the Pastime Rink might have looked like this.
Before the rink was named The Roller Garden, it was known as the Pastime Roller Rink. But the building started its life in 1930 as a horse arena, and has also been used for ice skating, tennis, and a dance hall. Read about the history of the rink from the St. Louis Park Historical Society's web site here, or watch a video version of the article (somewhat edited) below.
For some more recent history, check out this segment from the April 7, 1974 broadcast from Channel 4 TV's "Moore on Sunday" show. Things to note in this video: The floor had not been cut down on the sides or ends, it still sported the markings on the floor for tennis, the area over the snack bar was open and housed an elevated DJ booth and live organ music (played on a '70s-era Hammond). And of course, it's worth a watch just to see the fashion of the day!
Here's a great vintage promo film produced by Chicago Roller Skates and Pepsi that give a view of what roller skating was like in the 1950s, plus a little history of skating and skates.