This year, Rowmark Ski Academy kicks off its 35th year as a division of Rowland Hall. We are very proud to have grown into an internationally acclaimed ski program that is an integral part of a highly respected academic institution. For our student-athletes, being a Rowmarker means commitment and dedication to a combination of academics and a complete year-round ski racing program that is unmatched by any other program in the country.
For the 2016-2017 ski racing year, we have assembled an exceptional team with many of the best junior ski racers and student-athletes nationwide. Our program requires blood, sweat, tears, and the willingness to push through success and failure. It also provides opportunities for accomplishment, camaraderie, teamwork, and character building. Our staff and faculty have a unique opportunity to help shape the lives of our student-athletes through ski racing and academic development. The coaches chase them out of their comfort zone and marvel at how they adapt to and overcome the challenges that confront them. As their coaches, we are proud to watch them succeed, fail, grow from their experiences, mature to become honest and kind leaders, and contributing members of society.
Our yearly cycle began with three summer-fall ski camps. (Non-ski racers are often surprised at the ability to ski during the summer and fall months in various locations worldwide.) This year we kicked off our on-snow camps at Mammoth Mountain, California in June. In late July - early August our U19s had a very successful camp in New Zealand while our U16s spent two productive weeks at Mt. Hood, Oregon. The Rowmarkers worked hard throughout the summer, and our coaches saw solid technical/tactical improvements and strong team bonding across our roster. We are now approaching our November ski camp in Mammoth Mountain, California before getting on snow full-time at Park City and Snowbird from December to April. These off-season camps are critical to our success in a sport that has evolved into a year-round effort to be competitive on the national and international stages.
In September we completed our 9th Biennial Rowmark Bear Lake Challenge orientation trip. The goal of the weekend is to bring our team together in an unfamiliar and dynamic environment where they can get to know their teammates in new ways and challenge themselves physically and socially. The event includes a creation of four teams that compete in 10 different physical and social competitions including a web game, mini-triathlon, volleyball, speedball, frenzy medball game, woodsman relay, water/SUP relay, tug of war, slack line and spirit/team building competitions. The Rolling Thunder Team pulled away to claim the victory. It was an awesome orientation weekend for everyone involved. The event also helped identify our team captains for the year as elected by their peers. This year's captains are seniors Nick Fontaine, Sommer Glasgow, Liam Michael and Sofia Yubero.
The Rowmarkers showed diligence and unwavering commitment to their daily conditioning this fall. Head Conditioning Coach Jim Tschabrun directs a dynamic, periodized training program that includes many facets of strength/power, cardiovascular, plyometrics, quickness and coordination, flexibility, and cross-training/games. This year-round conditioning is a critical puzzle piece to support performance on snow. Three Rowmarkers broke or tied physical testing records: Nick Fontaine broke the vertical jump record with a jump of 32", Liam Michael broke the 5 x 1 leg broad jump record with a jump of 49'8" and Hannah West broke the record in the back squat with a lift of 315 pounds.
As we approach the winter competition season, the Rowmarkers' days and weeks will soon be filled beginning to end. Morning academic classes are followed by afternoon ski training, video review, ski tuning, and evenings of homework. Their race schedules take them all over the country and for some, to Canada and Europe. The extensive travel causes Rowmarkers to miss several weeks of school throughout the winter, testing their organizational, communication, and time-management skills. Success hinges on the support of the Rowland Hall faculty and extra efforts of frequent communication as well as individualized homework and exam preparation allowing the student-athletes to not only survive the academic load but also often excel. A big thank you goes out to these teachers for their dedication and commitment to make this happen.
The quote "It is the journey, not the destination" describes very well the significance of a Rowmarker's experience. These student-athletes leave our program well prepared for what lies ahead. For some, it includes a career on the U.S. Ski Team. For many, it means moving on to a high caliber university to further their education and compete in collegiate athletics. For all it means that they have learned to work together as a team, to struggle, and to persevere. We are looking forward to the new challenges of the approaching winter.