News & Stories

Loppet Mentor making a difference for a young athlete

Rosario started on the Nellie Stone Johnson Ski & Bike team in fall 2012, a little nervous about learning new sports. But she quickly became a proficient skier, mountain biker, and runner. The young athlete has been working with her mentor, Emily Johnson, for the past three years.

Emily thinks Rosario is “fantastic!” She loves the young girl’s competitive spark and enjoys hanging out with the eighth grader. Emily and Rosario aim to get together at least once a week, though that can be challenging at times with the young girl’s busy schedule. They have done quite a bit of canoeing together as well as skiing. Rosario really likes to go swimming. When they first met Rosario could not really swim. But now the young girl’s confidence as improved tremendously as she has been swimming with Emily.

Her swimming skills came in handy this past summer. Emily and Rosario paired up for the UCare Tri-Loppet last June, it was an extremely windy day. In a pro boat, the canoe team tipped over as did many of the other paddlers in the race. Rosario was “such a trooper,” according to Emily.

They also have had other adventures beyond outdoor activities such as trips to the museum. On their outings they often talk about school and Rosario’s college plans.

Emily is a nurse who works through a medical staffing firm at ICUs and ERs in the metro area, one of her three part-time positions. Her schedule allows her flexibility to meet with Rosario and share he love for being active. An accomplished athlete, Emily is currently signed up to do the Loppet Minne-Tour – doing the Finn Sisu Sprints and both marathon ski races at the Loppet. While she loves skiing, her real passion is canoe racing; she serves on the board of the Minnesota Canoe Association, a Loppet Foundation partner.

Emily feels fortunate to have grown up in a family that spent a lot of time outdoors, running, skiing and canoeing. She loves being able to share her passion for these activities with Rosario who has grown to have a passion for them herself. Emily loves that the Loppet Foundation is providing an opportunity for kids from families who may not be familiar with the outdoors or have the time or resources to get their kids outdoors and active. She feels lucky to be a part of making this happen.

“Not only is Rosario a great kid, she’s a great athlete.”

At the Rainbow Resort ski race in December 2012, Rosario led the field from the start. The following summer, she won one of the Mountain Bike Series Races for middle school students and completed the UCare Tri-Loppet race – a three-hour-long race that  included canoeing, running, and biking.

At the 2013 Loppet, Emily remarked to the Loppet team how much the young girl had refined her technique and improved her overall skiing ability.

Over the past few years she has become even more of a proficient skier and mountain biker.  She has ski raced, gone on team trips and been featured in the Star Tribune. Our favorite Rosario moment was when she lost her shoe at an October 2013 Adventure Series trail-running race and was just frustrated. I should have won that race, the young competitor noted under her breath close enough for John Munger to hear. A fierce competitor himself, John smiled at the young runner’s revelation.

We hope that Rosario, through her work with Emily and her continuation in Loppet programs, will continue to have such revelations!