Coach’s Corner: For big and small, teamwork is strong at AVSC |

Coach’s Corner: For big and small, teamwork is strong at AVSC

Base Camp athlete Slade Shadowshot, 7, of Basalt, Team One athlete Noah Bethonico, 11, of Snowmass Village, and snowboard instructor Aimee Acklen have a great time on Jan. 31.
Josh Ganz/Special to the Snowmass Sun |

At this point, hopefully you lovely inhabitants and guests of Snowmass Village are aware of what the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (AVSC for short) is even if you do not know exactly what we do.

We have a variety of winter programs and even a few in the summer. One of those programs is the Base Camp program. This is a recreational program for kids in the Roaring Fork Valley of all abilities ages 6 to 18. They meet up at the Two Creeks area on Snowmass for eight Saturdays throughout the winter to explore the mountains, learn a little more about skiing and snowboarding, and mostly have fun.

The Base Camp program is a great opportunity to help foster a love for winter sports in youth throughout the valley and sometimes even find those that have such passion and drive they commit to a more serious and competitive role in their discipline.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of taking my Team One snowboard athletes out to ride with a younger crew of up-and-comers. While I was excited about this venture, I was also nervous. My crew is a committed bunch of teenagers with goals and aspirations within the snowboarding world. Had you told me at the age of 14 that I had to go and skate (I didn’t pick up snowsports until it freakishly snowed in Kentucky when I was about 16 years old) with kids four or five or six years younger than me, and almost assuredly not as good as me, I would have probably flat out said no. Were my athletes going to be bummed out, disillusioned and upset with me as a coach? Would they understand what benefit this had for them and for the kids they were riding with? I had no idea.

Plus for me it had been a few years since I’d worked with children that age. Did I even remember how to act around such young kids? If I helped teach them, would I be able to communicate in a manner they could grasp and understand?

Before we were even out of the lift line I was confident that the morning was a good call and that things would go smoothly for everyone involved. Jokes were told, high-fives were thrown and smiles were plentiful.

I had the pleasure of riding with Aimee Acklen and her rad crew of shredders. Aimee is a rookie snowboard instructor for the Aspen Skiing Co. (while the Base Camp program is run through AVSC, we get a little help from our friends in red coats). The way she handled her crew, you wouldn’t know she was a rookie. From imparting knowledge, to group handling, to just making sure that everyone was having fun, it was clear that this was something that came naturally to Aimee.

Our two crews integrated seamlessly, playing around, showing each other cool jibs and jumps through our favorite runs, tossing snowballs and even stopping for some hot cocoa and goofing around inside the Elk Camp Restaurant.

Eventually lunchtime came for the younger athletes. To my surprise both Aimee’s crew and mine were somewhat disappointed when I informed them we would be parting ways. The younger ones needed to refuel, and my guys needed to put in a little time in the recently opened halfpipe. (We have our first USASA Aspen/Snowmass series pipe competition on Feb. 8 at Buttermilk for those that might be interested in competing or just cheering on our local group of rippers.)

We thanked Aimee’s crew for letting us ride with them and then spent the entire next chairlift ride talking about the fun things that were said and done during the morning. I was relieved and impressed at how well things went, especially the fact that one of my older athletes displayed the patience of a parent more than that of a teenager by helping one of the younger girls navigate some more difficult terrain.

As residents of the valley and members of the community, my team displayed excellence in both commitment and teamwork. This weekend my athletes proved they are more than just a bunch of snowboarding teenagers. They are mature and respectable humans, and I can’t wait to see what kind of amazing adults they grow into.

Josh Ganz is a snowboarding coach for the Aspen Ski and Snowboard Club. Email him at

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