Racing team updates

Andrew Kerr, his  story.
It starts at our club, and he remembers it. 
Hardwood hired him a few years ago, and I think they appreciated who Andrew was, what he knew about skiing, but also how well he worked with kids.
 
Another reason we need to nurture the few coaches or assistants we might ever have, we better treat them well.
Thanks for reading this, over to Andrew.

 

Hey Peter, 

Sorry for the delay and I hope all is well with you and the family! Hope the guys are doing well! It’s been way too long, absolutely crazy how time flies. I’d be happy to share my skiing story, hopefully it helps build your case.

My parents put my brother and I into skiing as a winter activity we could do together as a family. The home club was GNSCC, a short trip from the cottage where we spent every weekend and holiday. My brother and I went through the Jackrabbits program and graduated to the Racing Rabbits program. Down the road my brother and I would sporadically join training sessions with GNSCC/ PSHS racers under your coaching.

I had an on and off relationship with racing through elementary and high school. Our high school in southern Ontario eventually developed a race team and made it to OFSAA by default. After high school I chose Nipissing for its northern location, trail systems and recently revived Varsity ski team. I was pursuing a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education, so continuing with my athletic and coaching development made sense. At North Bay Nordic I was able to assist with the development and implementation of a Learn to Train program for aspiring ski racers who outgrew Racing Rabbits. This team’s enthusiasm for training made leading a ton of fun, and sparked some interest in coaching. I may have helped with the group for the next season but soon focused on school and my own training.

As a senior athlete with a vehicle, it was largely up to me to coordinate with the teammates our plan for transportation to practices and local races. This experience drove home the importance of planning, making checklists, communication and organization.  In my senior years I was promoted to team captain, which was a kind gesture for the role I assumed with the team.

After graduating with my BPHE and BEd, my brother, who was training as an athlete with Team Hardwood, recommended I apply for the paid Junior Coach position with the club. I had the necessary certifications, some experience coaching and a lot of experience as a developing racer. It sounded like a great experience and I was impressed with how well my brother was improving with the club. I was hired soon after as a teacher with a new private school starting up near my folks place, so this combination seemed like a great way to get to know the area better and establish myself. That being said, I would not have considered the coaching position if it was unpaid.

 

Andrew with Hardwood in TemiskamingAndrew with Hardwood in Temiskaming

I was fortunate to be offered the coaching job and had a great time helping update the program in an effort to make the transition from Junior team to Senior team streamlined while providing additional support to the Head Coach and senior team. I was completely floored by the dedication and drive of all the athletes, coaches, volunteers and parents in this program and the support from Hardwood Ski & Bike. Their junior program provided the missing link between Racing Rabbits and serious club racers. These junior athletes learned to appreciate focused effort, hard work, and the comradery associated with team culture. We may have had a bit of fun now and then too. Working with this group was an incredible display of what can be achieved with focused effort and unwavering support from the local ski/ athletic community. The phrase is it takes a village to raise a child. Here’s an example of a community raising incredibly talented athletes.

Big Hardwood teamBig Hardwood team

TemiskamingTemiskaming

The breakdown of my responsibilities with Team Hardwood is what looked good to the employers I was applying to. Strong communication skills are paramount in coaching and handling public relations. Being able to plan, organize, implement and evaluate are essential as a coach and event planner. Staying current with best practices should be mandatory for any coach, athlete or facility manager. Being able to provide constructive criticism that isn’t taken offensively is critical to coaches and people responsible for staff and volunteers. Patience is vital as a coach and someone who’s work number is listed online, and so on. Without my start into skiing at GNSCC and the incredible support, opportunities and coaching I received growing up, who know where I would be now.

Coaching next generation Hardwood skiersCoaching next generation Hardwood skiers

 

Although I really enjoyed my time as a coach, it’s hard for me to say if I’d get back into coaching if it paid a living. As much as the athletes, role, ski community and support are all incredible, the time and travel requirements take a very dedicated individual (and spouse). I truly admire the volunteer coaches who gave me and so many other aspiring athletes this dedication. I can’t begin to describe my gratitude for these individuals.

I would strongly encourage GNSCC and all other clubs with race teams to develop a junior program for their aspiring athletes who aren’t quite ready to take the plunge into the club race team. Give these athletes the opportunity to test drive focused training and the respect for the culture of discipline needed in this sport.

Best of luck getting the junior program established with GNSCC and thank you for all you’ve done for the sport! My family and I are truly grateful.

Cheers!