Once upon a time, my youth embraced winter. Growing up in the age of the sled, toboggan and skates made winter magical. We couldn’t care less how much snow and cold arrived each day. It was just another time of the year offering fun activities for us. Our parents may have complained about winter’s woes, but we saw only a white playground. We were sad when we could no longer go on the ice or use our sleds because the snow was no longer a viable avenue for fun.
In my senior year of high school, I went on my first-ever trip to a local ski hill near Milwaukee. I was thrilled to try this new activity that many of my friends were doing regularly. By evening’s end, I had had a blast. Good thing too, because I would need that one experience in the first couple of months of my career.
In my first year of teaching, at some time in the fall, a memo was placed in our mailboxes asking anyone who might be interested in starting a ski club to meet after school in the assistant principal’s office. I thought it might be a good way to get involved since I had only been at Rosemount High School for two months, and I was only on a one-year contract. We were told in college, “prove yourselves valuable to the administration where you’ll first be hired. Make them want to keep you.” I thought this might be one way to do that. Little did I know...
When the meeting began, there were three female teachers in the office, virtually strangers to me. The assistant principal began by talking about how some kids had asked her if a ski club was something the school could form. If a club was going to happen, it was going to need an advisor. At that point, the three women all chimed in saying they really had no desire to lead such an organization but they’d be happy to chaperone trips. And they were gone. And there I sat. This new teacher who had skied but once in his life. Yet, I stepped up and answered, “Sure” when asked if I was willing. Seriously, how difficult could it be?
There were no classes in college to prepare me for this one. I just needed to rely on my leadership and organizational skills. Yet, I didn’t know the first thing about downhill skiing! I took input from students who were part of the interested group in getting this club up and running. They told me they had no desire to go to Buck Hill because they could do that themselves. Rather, they’d prefer Afton or Welch ski areas. That was the first time I had ever heard of any of those places. OK. I’d eventually make some calls and get some prices for group skiing.
Now, how do I get them there? I called the district and learned I’d need to schedule a bus every time. No problem. The kids wanted to do this weekly so again, I had no issues with that. On the day of a trip, we’d load up the bus with our skis and skiers and off we’d go. Over the course of a couple of years, the club grew. In our peak year, we were over 220 members. I charged a yearly fee for transportation, so they only needed to pay for skiing weekly. I have to admit, it was fun. One night, a chaperone and I nearly collided as we were reaching the bottom of the hill. It was her fault. (tee hee)
Skiing is now in my past. But I still smile when I drive by a ski hill. Those were more great memories from my career.
Time’s up! See you next week!