Celebrating SPAC…Commentary on an amazing weekend and a winning philosophy.
For the past 4 seasons Stevens Pass Alpine Club (SPAC) has taken a day to acknowledge, appreciate and commemorate the year and those from our immediate community who make our team’s success capable of being realized.
For us, more important than the number of kids we get to the ski team, the podiums we dominate, race series we win or even profitability of a race to our bottom line; is our commitment to building a strong community that puts racers and racing first. This is demonstrated over and over again by our club; the coaches, athletes, parents, volunteers and leadership. SPAC feels a responsibility to the good of our ski area, those we compete against and to PNSA. Examples from this season include; opening our very limited training space to teams from hills with no snow at no charge, our program director and parent volunteers shoveling sugar snow for hours (literally) so a race was not cancelled and sharing our van, camps and instructor certification exam with athletes from other teams.
That being said it’s only natural that SPAC set aside one day each season to thank our ski area, our parents, our coaches and our athletes, and laud the efforts of those who make it possible for us to ski race.
We have named the day “Celebrate SPAC.” It occurs annually on the weekend after the main SPAC supported races are completed, before the short-season athletes move on to their other sports and before the championship race series commence….the single weekend when the whole team is available and can come together.
This year we started the day with what we hope will be a new tradition; commemorative team and individual photos. Thanks to David Stanley at Maltby photography for his time and photos. Thanks also to parent Petra Barclay for being photographers’ assistant. When we had a last minute change to the daily schedule, she graciously gave up her spot in the parent clinic to be sure everything went off smoothly for the kids and coaches. Just another example of someone putting team and kids first!
After the morning team photo, kids were placed into groups for the Skills Quest competition and for training. While Nils and Dave Lucas set the training venue, each of the 8 trainings group of athletes and their coaches delivered thank you gifts throughout the ski area. Robin and Coleen Stocking headed-up the gift giving campaign. With support from Amber Forsythe (and a supportive handful of parents who showed-up and offered help that morning), approximately 75 dozen cookies donated by SPAC families were packaged with bows and cards. Every department from food service to building maintenance, accounting to security and every chair lift operator, received a thank you cookie delivery from the kids. Thanks to Robin and Coleen for their time and efforts in making this complicated task go off seamlessly!
At 9:00 am sharp, parents met in the Iron Goat for an indoor training session led by Program Director Dave Lyon with support from SPAC Training Director Linda Cowan and Coach David Rowe. Almost 2 hours in length, the presentation explained the fundamentals that are the focus of athlete skill development for SPAC. The indoor portion of the clinic ended with parents meeting in small groups to debrief on their take-aways from the presentation. A group discussion followed where parents had the opportunity to ask further questions and share their struggles and hopes for their children. That’s when the SPAC parent community, true to the vision of the club, really came together as they can be counted on to do…offering wisdom, guidance and support to each other on how to manage the hurdles of race parenting.
The parent clinic continued after lunch. Parents broke into three groups, led by Dave, David and Linda, and skied the fundamentals discussed in the morning. The coaches each did an amazing job! Parents were all abuzz in the lodge following the on-snow portion of the clinic. Comments from how lucky we are to have such talented, capable skiers/coaches on staff, to how incredibly hard and technical what the kids are being asked to do is, abounded. The most common theme however centered on how the clinic would help parents share more directly in their kids experience by being able to start and understand conversations about their training day and better support their athletes in the face of adversity as they learn, try, improve and ultimately succeed as ski racers.
While parents were learning athletes were competing in a Skills Quest competition. To help build relationships across all ages, each group was a combination of athletes from U8 to U21. Each athlete was tested on their competency at pivot slips and pole jumps. The tasks were evaluated by Head Mighty Mite coach Nils and SPAC coach and PSIA Examiner Dave Lucas with scores awarded to each individual then compiled for each team. As we are used to seeing the SPAC kids relate to each other, the athletes had a great time cheering each other on, lending support and encouragement. Individual head shots were taken as groups reported to Skills Quest. The top three scoring teams were announced at dinner later that night, with Coach Heidi’s team taking home top honors. Parent Amber Forsythe was lead on Skills Quest, supporting Nils as needed, purchasing prizes and announcing winners. She did an amazing job.
The final event of the day was the family dinner and dance. Boy was it fun! We had nearly 150 folks in attendance, eating pizza, and dancing the night away! Power Team Entertainment provided DJ services. They taught us all kinds of Western dances, performed a high paced number, ran a costume contest and led the limbo, the Macarena and even taught the moves to “Thriller.” Almost everyone danced! The U18 and U21 boys were showing their moves on the dance floor all night…and boy did they have the moves. The U18 and U21 girls were not to be shown-up and danced and giggled in equal measure. Coaches Heidi, Hanna and Emily kept all the younger kids going with the big kids joining in, although except for a couple younger boys, no one needed much encouragement. The U10, U12 girls had a moment bordering on sheer panic and embarrassed elation when the partner dances started and the U18/U21boys asked them to dance…very cute, but not nearly as great as watching all the dads and daughters dancing as part of a circle dance later that night. Beth Butzlaff and Jessica Roesler were tearing it up as swing dance partners throughout the night and kids and coaches alike watched in smiling amazement when they saw PD/coach Dave’s (sporting his black Stetson from his days in Wyoming) moves on the dance floor. Coach Heidi, who is always at the head of the fun bus, was his swing dance partner at least once and parent Summer Oleksy showed us she may have graduated from UNL, but she definitely minored in the Electric Slide! Thanks to Patti Miller and Matt Miller for coordinating dessert for us all and to Kat Krstic, Cathy Westman and Petra Barclay for set-up, clean-up and manning the check-in table!
It was great so see so much of the team Celebrating SPAC! If you missed it, we missed you and we hope you will mark your calendars for next year. A final thanks to the SPAC team building committee for all their hard work on what was an unforgettable day!
Finally, Celebrate SPAC also marks the culmination of our Annual Fund Campaign fundraiser. Thank you to everyone who donated to our Annual Fund! As we wrapped up the active portion of the campaign this past weekend, we are so very close to our $12,000.00 goal, short by just $1,800.00. If you’re still intending to donate, the “Donate Now” will remain open, or if you wish to pledge now and donate later, contact Kurt Westman or Debbie Barrow. The Annual Fund is vital to the support of every one of our athletes, so each and every dollar is very much appreciated.
This year we also drew donations from our surrounding community, which demonstrates our reach is growing. Some coaches donated their hours back to the club, showing their amazing personal commitment to our athletes. Many of our donors took advantage of their employers matching programs, which makes their donations go twice as far, thank you for taking that extra step.
Together, we’re building a stronger club, a tighter community and providing our athletes…your children… the support they most certainly deserve to grow into respected adults and accomplished skiers and racers.