ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — On Sunday, over 40 ice skaters–both kids and adults–participated in a coaching clinic at the Carlson Ice Rink to honor a fellow skater that died from COVID-19 complications.
A family of a local Rockford ice dancer is honoring his memory with an event centered around one of his biggest passions.
“If love could get you to the Olympics, he would have been there,” said Sharon Whitlock, Brad’s wife.
Brad Whitlock died in December 2020 after suffering complications from a month-long battle witih COVID-19. His wife and daughters couldn’t think of anything more fitting to celebrate his life than being back at the rink.
“It is a comfort, it is exciting, I know he would have loved it. I like to think he’s hovering around here somewhere enjoying himself because he loved this sport so much,” said Sharon.
Whitlock’s love for skating started young, but dancing came a little later.
“When our girls were born, when they were 3 and 5, that was the year Brian Boitano won the gold up in Calgary and my husband decided he wanted to be the first 40-year old Brian Boitano,” she described.
So as he picked up his skates and headed to the rink, a place the family soon became all too familiar with.
“You just feel at home. Any rink in the country, you walk in and the kids often said you know exactly what the nachos are going to taste like – you know exactly where the bathrooms are because they are in the same place,” said Whitlock.
Brad’s daughter Evangeline started skating after her dad and soon the whole family was hooked.
“The way I describe it is the family vacations we took were to skating competitions,” Evangeline said.
With her father now gone, she says being at the rink gives her a sense of comfort.
“It feels, not like closure, but like a new step forward,” she described.
With that step forward, the Whitlocks say they are hopeful Brad’s memory will inspire others to start skating.
“We are actually thinking in terms of continuing this to get people interested in the sport and because it’s fun to get together and remember those,” added Evangeline
The clinic was funded by a memorial in Brad’s name and hosted by the Rockford Skating Club. Brad was 62 years old and was active in the Skating club as well as being a volunteer announcer in Rockford.
Both of his daughters continue to coach skating.