Roller Skater Joel "Willy" Wilcox

April 2014

Joel Wilcox and Kathy Kroto

Joel "Willy" Wilcox started roller skating in 1956, about the same time as Jamestown skater Brad Zimmer entered competition for the first time. Wilcox entered the State meet in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1957 as a novice. In 1958 he competed as a novice in the Nationals in Cleveland, Ohio. Many of the skaters there were more experienced than Wilcox, and he placed 9th. To help himself improve as a skater, he began taking 8mm movies of the better skaters.

By 1959 he was good enough to win Intermediate Men competition in the state competition in PA. That same year he placed 6th in a strong field at the Nationals in Boston, MA. His routine was skated to the music of Stan Kenton's Big Band.

Wilcox practiced his skating at the rink in Celoron owned by Oscar Zimmer, father of Brad and Russ Zimmer, also competitive skaters. Mr. Zimmer was a generous man who let any serious skater practice there during off hours. Willy's rink for competition work was the Westlake Rink in Erie, PA.

Willy also competed in pairs skating, and his most frequent partner was Kathy Kroto. They competed together for several years.

Wilcox was a native of Jamestown, and claims that his jumping skills were enhanced by his years of pushing his bike up the 7th Street hill as he made his way to Washington Junior High School.

Joel Wilcox and Kathy Kroto

Other local skaters back in those days were Jerry Fasciano, "Shaky" Nelson, and Harpo Anderson, Barb Zimmer, Mary Nowell, wife of rink organist Larry Nowell, Darlene Lundberg, Wendy Ferino, Janice Love and Delores Elmere of Celoron.

Today Wilcox lives in Maryland. His two daughters and four grandchildren keep him busy, and he's hoping to have another roller skater in the family so he can spend time around rinks again.


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