News & Stories

First week of practice, a coach’s tale…

What in the world am I going to do with 40 middle school kids? When I received the roster a week or so before practice started, a big fat 40 stared back at me from the top of the page with an unsympathetic grin. Then the date on my calendar, October 25th, tiptoed up behind me and nodded me in the direction of the Anwatin cafeteria. To say the least, I was a bit nervous. Everything I practiced saying in my head sounded like my mother, who was my high school ski team coach: expectations. teamwork. Listening, hard work, attendance. Somewhere along the way, I had become someone responsible. When did this happen?

Slowly the kids trickled in and soon the empty cafeteria was roaring with energetic bodies. My assistant coaches Dan Luoma and Will Swanson helped me gather them downstairs and seated them in our ski team hallway, and all of a sudden, I had their attention. Looking around at all their faces, they weren’t quite so intimidating. There was a cute little girl with a serious face and a knit stocking hat with puff balls dangling down. There were the groups of smiling friends, excited to be reunited. There was a new girl who joined her brother who was returning from last year. There was a snowboarder, a swimmer, eighth graders looking at high schools and six graders looking slightly petrified. How scary could these kids be? A little later, I had them fill out introduction sheets, including the question: Why did you join the Nordic Ski Team? Here is what they had to say:

“I love skiing- I love snow.” “I want to get fit, have fun and wear cool jackets.” “I joined it last year and it was fun. I bet it will be fun this year!” “I LOVE skiing!”

I couldn’t argue with any of that and it reminded me that these kids weren’t here for me; they were here to SKI! And skiing is something that we can all experience and love. Over the following three practices, we went ski walking, hill bounding, did some balance and strength drills, and even played some one-legged tag. One boy named Jamie asked, “Can we play that game again with the hopping? Maybe with two legs this time?” What a deal! Kids who like to ski and want to play ski games?

I would say these kids are on to something…

Members of the Anwatin Ski Team participate in a year round program comprised of cross-country skiing in the winter and mountain biking and other trail related sports in the summer. Currently the team in the midst of a month of tryouts for the winter season. For more information, please contact Program Coach Allie Rykken at