Laura Sims

In Memory

Laura Sims

The Grand Opening of Cobbs Creek Skate House in the Park, February 1985, was the crowning point of Laura's community life. It took 12 years for her dream to become a reality for her beloved West Philadelphia community. Her campaign spanned the careers of three district councilman, but her main supporter and advocate was Councilman Lucien E. Blackwell.

Laura started campaigning in the early 1970s for a rink when she decided there needed to be a hockey/skating rink in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood of West Philadelphia, a part of the world previously not known as a hockey "hotbed." After years of letter writing, petitioning, meetings, etc. her dream materialized. Today the building stands as the only permanent official Olympic-size ice skating rink in the City of Philadelphia.

Though she did not know much about the game of hockey, she figured that if other kids were playing it, kids in her own neighborhood ought to have a chance. In 1985, Laura, along with other organizers, set about recruiting hockey players -- local children who had no experience with the game. At its height, more than 100 players, ages 5 to 16, later adding players ages16 to 18, were competing on teams. About two-thirds of the players were African American, the others were Caucasian youth from Delaware County. Seeing families skating together was rewarding to Laura because more than just skating was learned and experienced. Children could skate together and form friendships across racial lines at a very early age. This helped to deflate the stereotypes which Laura fiercely fought against. Several of the children from the community have gone on to become Olympic hopefuls.

Mrs. Sims formed the "Friends of Cobbs Creek Skate House," comprised of families and community residents, to manage the programs and activities of the rink. These included: ice and roller skating, youth ice hockey, sled hockey for disabled, arts/crafts, health fairs, after school tutoring, family gatherings, group events, private parties, basketball, figure skating classes, aerobics, line dancing and additional activities of special interest to the community.

John, Sr., John, Jr. and Donna worked tirelessly to support Laura in her early campaigns development efforts and community organizing to bring the Cobbs Creek Skate House to reality. John, Jr. and Donna assisted with fundraising, program implementation and recruiting youth for hockey and skating programs. John, Jr. served as vice president of the Advisory Council for several years prior to his passing in 2014.