A BSF board member reflects and gives his top 5 BSF moments
Six years ago I made the decision to join the Bridger Ski Foundation board as a freestyle representative. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into, other than I would be replacing another "freestyle parent" on the board and volunteering my time to a local non-profit. I also figured it was an excellent opportunity to be closer to a sport my boys participated in, which I really knew nothing about. I grew up surfing, not skiing moguls, or throwing d-spins.
Immersing myself into the organization, learning about freestyle skiing and getting to know Mike Papke, the Freestyle/Freeskiing Program Director, were early highlights. I learned so much from Mike; not just freestyle skiing, but also to sit back and enjoy the ride my boys were on. It was incredible for me to watch my boys have fun, grow, and learn from both successes and failures. There is no better coach than Mike to help kids and athletes grow, as well as gain experiences that will last a lifetime.
I quickly learned that BSF was more than Freestyle. While Freestyle was the reason I joined the board and where I initially centered my efforts, I was challenged to learn about the Alpine and Nordic programs BSF offers, as well as grooming trails for the community throughout the Bozeman area. As I started to piece all of that together, I realized how unique BSF is and how fortunate we are to have an organization like BSF in Bozeman. No organization in the country offers Alpine, Nordic and Freestyle/Freeskiing, as well as grooming community trails in a community like Bozeman, where our ski venues are on our doorstep.
For me, it was a story I loved telling, and I jumped at the chance to evangelize BSF whenever I could. Whether it be to a potential athlete, BSF member, donor, community member, friend, etc., there is no better story: BSF focuses on inspiring a lifelong love skiing, athletic excellence, and personal growth. The programs and trails are open to everyone, and we strive to keep skiing affordable through fundraising, scholarships, financial aid, open trail access, and equipment assistance.
I realized that we had to amplify that story and more people needed to know and understand all that BSF has to offer. One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is helping the Executive Director convince the board we needed to invest in marketing to help with our storytelling. Thankfully, BSF hired Jenny White, who among other things, launched a new BSF website, helped with re-branding, fine-tuned the BSF story, used social media and other channels to tell that story and is present at so many events to capture moments and experiences.
As I reflect, I have had so many BSF moments. Here are my top 5:
Ultimately though, my most memorable moment was a subtle moment. Back in March, I volunteered as a starter for the final Alpine race of the season. It was something I had never done before, and I had an absolute BLAST, soaking in such contagious energy, passion, dedication, etc. And as a starter at the top of the course, I had the best view in the house.
My favorite moment was when Violet Newhouse stepped into the gate. After seven years of skiing with BSF, this was her last race. She was crying; clearly not lost on her that this was her final run. I actually had a hard time getting her through the 10-second countdown without choking up myself. I was thinking about Violet, as well as her Dad somewhere along the course watching his daughter do her thing on the slopes one last time. With tears in her eyes, she sent it.
In my opinion, Violet is the quintessential BSF athlete. Forget the fact, for a second, that she is a stellar student, but she has been an ambassador several times (one of the best examples of one), has had ups/downs and highs/lows on the slopes, etc., but never wavered on her dedication to the sport and BSF. To me, this IS the BSF story in so many ways. Violet might not be going to the Olympics but is clearly an amazing human being with a passion for a sport she dedicated seven years of her life to. I can't write a better story than that.
As my tenure on the BSF board comes to a close, I'd like to thank everyone for their teamwork, support, and friendship. The two terms, a combined 6 years, has been an important and meaningful chapter in my life.