It seems that all of Highland Park has united behind their pride in hometown Olympian Jason Brown. But for a specific community with ties to Centennial Ice Arena, Brown’s performances have gone a step further and sparked something of a reunion.
“Everyone’s been brought together by this event,” said Lizzy Temkin, who at 23 was a bit older than the 19-year-old Brown, but still grew up skating with him at Centennial. “It may seem like a small thing, but it’s still really meaningful to connect with these people.”
Temkin was at a viewing party at Centennial Friday morning, hugging former coaches and skating moms she knew as a kid.
She was also part of a group of about 60 friends and family who travelled to see Brown perform in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston last month, (a performance nearly four million people have now seen on YouTube). The plane there was full of people sporting “Team Brown” t-shirts that his parents made for them, she said, and they hosted a dinner one of the evenings for all his supporters.
Now, she said, those old skating friends are texting each other constantly to celebrate each of Brown’s performances.
Sharyn Weiss, who was a skating program director at Centennial when Brown first took to the ice, credits the collegial culture that the rink creates with the strong community of skaters it has produced.
The rink closes for the summer, which is unusual in the area, and she believes creates skaters who are involved in other sports and activities. And it cultivates a less cut-throat atmosphere than other programs.
The rink created a “safe haven” for both the skaters and their parents who were often hanging out during practices together, Weiss said while waiting for Brown’s performance at the Centennial viewing party.
Then she stood up to give a hug to one of her daughters’ former skating coaches.