Clubhouse Chronicles: Thank you, AVSC coaches, for guiding our way this winter
AVSC Executive Director
At the end of each season, there is a long list of people to thank — it truly takes a valley to make Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club run. We are fortunate to have a passionate community that makes it all happen between our staff, our donors and sponsors, and of course, our athletes and their families.
As this season wraps up, I’d like to extend an enormous thank you to our coaches.
Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club’s 2,300 athletes benefit from the time and attention of 134 AVSC coaches and 250 Aspen Skiing Co. pros. The Skico pros work with our Aspen Supports Kids program to help athletes grow from never-evers to adventurous skiers and snowboarders who explore all types of terrain and trails on our four mountains.
Some of our coaches log off from their full-time jobs on weekday afternoons to head out onto the trails in Aspen or at Spring Gulch to pass on their love of skiing. Others patiently build confidence in young athletes as they work on their air awareness and jumps on the trampolines, airbags, and eventually in the terrain park. Others load the lifts in the wee hours of the morning, ensuring the best quality of training they can possibly provide as their athletes fly through gates.
Many of our coaches are career coaches. This is who they are and what they do, and they have an incredible amount of experience, certifications and podium results to show for it. At every level, our coaches are dedicated, hard-working, passionate individuals who, for either the winter season or all year long, dedicate their time and talent to helping young athletes become the best version of themselves.
I won’t belabor the point about why this year was different or challenging, but I will say I am grateful for our positive, resilient, creative group of coaches (and program directors who lead them).
All of our programs ran at full-steam this year. This required creative planning (and changes of plan), a great deal of communication and thoughtful execution. Many of our programs operate year-round, which means that for over a year, coaches have been providing the very best programming for the current week without knowing exactly what the next week will bring.
They have learned new online platforms, finding ways to keep kids moving even when apart. They have altered their programs to maximize opportunity while minimizing risk. They have helped host events that brought the highest level of competition to our valley in a year that we thought we might not be able to test ourselves in competition. They’ve learned, enforced and taught new (and ever-changing) protocols in order to keep their groups safe.
Most importantly, perhaps, was not what they learned to do differently, but rather continuing to do what they’ve always done best: to focus on the development of our athletes, not only as athletes, but as people. In a year with immense shakeups in routines, personal interactions, school, extracurricular activities, families and more, our coaches provided a safe and steady outlet for our athletes to continue to grow and develop, to safely socialize, to succeed and fail, and to spend time outdoors doing what they love.
We feel incredibly lucky to have been able to accomplish what we did this year with all groups — from wobbly first turns to world championship runs — and are grateful to all who supported us along the way. We are excited to bring back team van rides, hugs and shared meals in the near future.
Whether you know an AVSC coach, or a coach serving kids in a different youth sports organization, I hope you will take a moment to thank them for all they’ve done this past year! During a universally challenging time, they worked hard to be a consistent source of positivity, fun and growth.
Clubhouse Chronicles is a behind-the-scenes column written by the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club that runs periodically in the Outdoors and Sports sections.
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This past season brought with it Hailey Swirbul’s greatest individual result as a professional cross-country ski racer. But any real satisfaction she received always came when racing alongside her teammates, notably during world champs.