Vail Daily column: Ski Club’s initiatives support athletes
With Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s on-snow season just a few weeks away and me now in my 14th and final year as executive director, I find myself reflecting on my early days as a coach almost 30 years ago at what was then Ski Club Vail. At the time, I was teaching kids how to ski better and faster, but as my career unfolded I realized what the club provided was so much more than that. Our motto, “for the kids,” expresses the reason the club exists. I am grateful that my years at SSCV have allowed me to serve the kids of the community and support the mission and vision of SSCV.
The following are among the most important initiatives being pursued by club to serve the kids of our community.
Over the past nine years, more than $1.3 million in financial aid has been awarded by SSCV. Last season more than 20 percent of SSCV athletes received financial aid (130-plus athletes), nearing $250,000 for program fees, travel and camp costs. This amount represents a 20-fold increase in financial aid from a baseline of $20,000 in 2002. During the upcoming season, the total amount of financial aid provided will increase in excess of 30 percent over last season, continuing the increase in financial support “for the kids”.
SSCV’s financial aid goal, through its Opportunity Fund, is to ensure that any child with the character, courage and commitment to pursue their dreams in snowsports may fulfill their potential regardless of means. Individuals, corporate donors and fundraising events contribute to the Opportunity Fund.
What if a child or adult wants to get started with ski racing or hone their skills without a huge time or financial commitment? Launched this past season, the Alpine Bank Get in the Gates Recreational Race Program is sponsored by Alpine Bank. This 15-week, 60-session, 120-hour program provides the opportunity for 8 year olds through adults of all abilities to receive coaching in slalom and giant slalom from SSCV professionals Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons late November through early April. Coached by former SSCV Executive Director and veteran U.S. Ski Team coach Erik Steinberg, he and his staff provide broad opportunities for the youth and adults of the community to develop their skills through gate training. For those younger than 21 who request financial aid towards the $995 annual fee, the remaining $495 tuition brings the cost down to about $4 an hour for training and expert coaching.
SSCV provides free opportunities for youngsters to try the club. Complimentary Trampoline Training Days take place in the fall (the next one is Sunday) for those interested in our acrobatics sports. Complimentary Nordic days take place in early winter. Complimentary Try the Club Days in alpine, freestyle, snowboard and freeskiing take place on Vail Mountain in late winter.
For the kids and our community
It is initiatives like the Opportunity Fund and the Alpine Bank Get in the Gates Recreational Race Program that allow children to ignite their passion and develop to their full potential on snow and off. Through the vehicle of competitive snowsports, SSCV athletes take with them a foundation for success in academics, career and beyond. Confidence, grit, resilience, the long-lasting impact of influential adult role models, lifelong friendships, a passion for skiing or riding and the outdoors and an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle are just a few of the positive outcomes from their time with SSCV. Listening to any of our 13 2015 Hall of Fame and Wall of Excellence Inductees share how SSCV shaped their adult lives or the lives of their children or the children they coached, surely reaffirmed this.
SSCV is providing so much more “for the kids” and the communities they live in than I could have ever imagined during my first year coaching in Vail in 1986. There is of course always more to do. SSCV continually engages our staff and involves community in initiatives “for the kids” alongside partnering with local businesses like Alpine Bank. Please follow my weekly column throughout the season to learn more.
SSCV provides part-time and full-time programs to 650-plus youth in alpine, freeski, freestyle, Nordic, ski cross and snowboard. For more information on SSCV, its complimentary sessions and financial aid, which has an Oct. 15 application deadline, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-790-5161.