Blue Mound Figure Skaters find success on the ice — and off it, too
“Give it a try. It’s an opportunity to meet people from different towns in a network outside of your hometown. You’ll meet a lot of wonderful people and it’s just a great thing to be a part of.”
LUVERNE — When Katie (Dooyema) Koop was in the fourth grade here, she was taking dance lessons.
“Then the dance school left and I tried figure skating,” she says. “And I fell in love. I feel like this is a lifelong thing.”
As a little girl, Katie joined the Blue Mound Figure Skaters. Now more than 20 years later, she is a coach and board member of the highly successful and respected organization.
Not so many years ago, basketball was considered the winter passion of Luverne youths. But skating — both hockey and figure skating — is now extremely popular. The Luverne boys and girls varsity hockey teams qualified for their Minnesota state tournaments this winter, and the Blue Mound Figure Skating Club is concluding yet another successful campaign.
“For sure it’s pretty cool,” says Katie, a 2003 graduate of Luverne High. “For the size of our town and what we have to offer it’s a great thing.”
And not just for those who live in the Luverne city limits.
“Last time I counted we had like 18 different communities that make up our club,” she says. “We even pull kids out of Brandon and Sioux Falls (South Dakota), and I think that really says a lot about Luverne.”
This is the 32nd year for the Blue Mound Figure Skaters. Katie competed for the club until she graduated from high school. She moved back home after finishing college and is now a teacher.
Coaching is a big part of her life. The Blue Mound club has more than 100 skaters and offers skating lessons to young boys and girls who hope to play hockey or one day compete in figure skating disciplines.
Katie is an advocate of the program.
“The thing I like the most is all the different opportunities,” she says. “It’s not just an individual sport; you’re part of a team. You can do so much that benefits your strengths on the ice. It’s also a great way to be active.”
The club these days is very young.
“We’ve got a lot of kids coming up who are working really hard,” she says, adding that diligence and persistence is as important as skating talent. And that the benefits of involvement in the organization are undeniable.
“You look at all the coaches who have returned after competing and are now on our staff,” Katie says. “I always talk with my grandmother, who wishes (she) would have learned to skate. It’s a great skill to have. You can do it recreationally for a long time. That’s really something to appreciate.”
Marisa Thier is a Worthington teen who has been a member of the club for about eight years. And she loves it.
“I feel like our team is very welcoming,” Thier says. “They make sure everyone is included. We’re all from different towns and this brings us all together.”
Marisa travels to Luverne at least twice a week. She used to practice at 5 a.m.on winter Wednesdays.
“I’m not a morning person,” she laughs. “But we always had fun and the hard work is worth it.”
Marisa is not sorry she’s been committed to the Blue Mound club for so long.
“It takes a lot of hard work and effort,” she says. “In the end it’s worth it. I love doing it.”
She hopes to keep skating for a long time and aspires to be a coach. What would she say to young folks considering the club?
“Give it a try,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to meet people from different towns in a network outside of your hometown. You’ll meet a lot of wonderful people and it’s just a great thing to be a part of.”