Peering at the crowd from behind the 16-foot-tall jukebox entryway to the rink, Maranda Ruble knew all eyes would soon be on her as she skated her way through “I Love Rock n’ Roll.”

But the 10-year-old Neason Hill third grader said she wasn’t a bit nervous about performing for a packed-house audience.

That’s because once she’s performing on the ice like she got to at Sunday’s annual Meadville Figure Skating Club showcase, “it feels like they’re not even there.”

A figure skater since the ripe old age of two, Ruble is one of the dozens of club members who took to the ice at Meadville Area Recreation Complex for “Rock Thru the Ages,” the club’s 29th annual springtime ice show.

Sporting a blue, star-filled costume and shivering with cold and a little anticipation before the start of the show, 8-year-old Emily Allen, a four-year club member, said the showcase is her favorite skating event of the year.

“I love skating ... (and) I’m excited because my whole family’s gonna be watching me,” she said, the cold on her breath visible.

And as for preparations for the big show, “I just practice like ... I just practice a lot,” she added.

That goes for all the young people involved, according to Joyce Popovich, the club’s skating director and the MARC’s Learn-to-Skate program director. “I can’t tell you how hard these kids work” to showcase their talents, she said Sunday.

She wasn’t joking — club members have skill-honing sessions on Mondays and practices starting at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Sundays and at 8 a.m. on Wednesdays. A big part of the club’s practice sessions are the lessons that get handed down from the club’s senior members to junior members.

Nicole Popovich, who’s been involved with the club for the past six years, said she advises younger club members “to always have a good time on the ice, and to never put anybody down.”

“I always love being on the ice,” Nicole said before preparing to do her solo performance to Van Halen’s 80s classic “Jump.”

Skating “gives me confidence. Once I’m out there, I feel like I can do anything.”

Joyce Popovich said giving the club’s members the opportunity to capture that feeling and develop their skills takes a whole lot of community involvement and support from the club’s many sponsors.

“Everybody just pulls together” to cover rink rental fees and other club expenses during both annual shows and practice sessions, she said.

And it’s a year-round effort. In fact, Popovich said the club already has decided its theme for next year’s showcase: “Paradise on Ice.”

With a tropical theme that will include palm trees and sandy beaches, that event will mark the club’s 30th year of annual springtime shows, “and we’re celebrating,” she said with a laugh.

Ryan Smith can be reached at 724-6370 ext. 287 or by e-mail at

To get involved

The Meadville Figure Skating Club is a nonprofit club that strives to encourage the instruction, practice and advancement of its members in free skating, ice dancing all other types of figure skating.

If you and/or a family member are interested in getting involved, visit the club at or mail MFSC, PO Box 1397, Meadville, Pa. 16335.

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