Clubhouse Chronicles: Where it all begins with AVSC’s ASK program |

Clubhouse Chronicles: Where it all begins with AVSC’s ASK program

Meredith Elwell
Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club
Aspen Supports Kids is designed to get local youth on snow for the first time through the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.
Courtesy photo

Do you remember your first time on skis? First time on a snowboard? Pizza, french fries, hockey stop? Everyone has a beginning, what was yours?

Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club’s Aspen Supports Kids (ASK) program is the beginning of a love affair with skiing/snowboarding for many of our local athletes. This winter marks a new beginning for me, too: my first as the Aspen Supports Kids director. In the spirit of beginnings, I wanted to share thoughts from a few members of our community on their beginning with ASK, and what has or will result from their involvement.

The beginning of a family’s journey

“Last winter was our 4-year-old’s first experience skiing with someone other than his parents, and we couldn’t have dreamed up a better program than Powder Pandas to instill an early love for skiing. In a small group, surrounded by new friends and a couple buddies, Hagen listened better, whined less and tried harder than any day on the hill with us. He learned useful skills, like how to carry his skis and how to load and unload from the chair on his own. After six weeks, his skiing dramatically improved, as did his stamina on the mountain and his knowledge of the mountain. I could see his confidence building while showing us new tree trails around Buttermilk. Most importantly, he had fun. So much fun that now, eight months later, with no parental prompts, he asked when ski school starts again. Just this week, he cut skis out of cardboard and duct taped them to his socks for some carpet shredding. We hope it’s a sign that he loves this sport as much as we do, and this is the beginning of a very long relationship with AVSC.”

— Tess & Greg Strokes, parents to Hagen, age 4

The beginning of a competitive career

“Skiing is my life and it all started with AVSC’s Aspen Supports Kids programs. I owe everything to the AVSC programs and my parents for putting me in those programs. I can’t remember much from those early days besides grilled cheeses and being really excited to ski with my friends. I met my best and lifelong friend Wiley Maple in Ridgerunners; we went on to race together for 13 years. The AVSC coaches do a great job at keeping skiing fun because that is what skiing is all about. Skiing is a sport you can do your entire life. These programs teach lifelong teamwork skills, create long-lasting friendships, and give kids a foundation to pursue competitive skiing if they want to.”

— Sam Coffey, 2x state champ, Junior National champion and 2x DI All-American ski racer

The beginning of a healthy outlet

“I love to snowboard, but there is a problem with money. When I go snowboarding I feel free and happy. When I stay home I feel like I am locked up. If you would be very kind and give me a scholarship, I would love it and be very thankful.”

— eighth-grade scholarship applicant for the ASK Snowmass Snocru Snowboarding Program

AVSC distributes more than $1.8M in scholarships and subsidies to kids throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. This access to skiing and snowboarding can provide a valuable outlet for personal and athletic growth. It is difficult to deny the release skiing/snowboarding provides all of us, especially kids that are feeling the pressures of everyday life.

The beginning of a career in teaching

“Having the opportunity to teach the same local kids each week, and in some cases season to season, is a highlight of my career. I was able to create enduring relationships and watch the kids develop into great people on and off the hill.”

— Alex Kendrick, Buttermilk Ski School coordinator and parent to two AVSC athletes

Alex started her 23-year career at Aspen Skiing Company, as most instructors do, teaching in an AVSC program.

This winter, more than 1,400 local kids, led by 280 Aspen Skiing Company instructors, will gear up to experience the thrill of learning how to enjoy the mountains in a safe and skill-building environment. Our four mountains will be filled with smiles, accomplishments and the contagious sound of kids having the best time of their lives. We hope you join us in encouraging, supporting and celebrating these new beginnings!

Clubhouse Chronicles is a twice a month, behind-the-scenes column written by the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. It runs in the Friday Outdoors section.

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