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A family that skis together, stays together

By Steve Sabato
On October 9, 2012

If someone was to do enough digging in the storage closet in Room 349 in the Marist College Student Center, they would find an edition of the student yearbook, the Reynard, from 1979, with pages in it dedicated to the ski team.

In a small community like Marist, it would seem hard to fly under the radar while doing something for at least 32-plus years. However, Marist's club ski team has managed to do just that.

"I kind of wish people even knew we had a ski team," said Nicolette Coan, a senior and co-captain of the team.

Recognizing the perceived anonymity of the team, junior co-captain Shawn Bartosik noted what he appreciates about the team maintaining a low profile.

 "It's a tricky situation," said Bartosik, "because we want to be known, and we want to get ourselves out there. But the big thing we pride ourselves on is being a family."

   It's a sentiment that was echoed by senior, Coan and head coach Jakob Hawkins Hanenberg.

   "Ten years out of school, and the people I keep in touch with the most from Marist are my friends from the ski team," said Hanenberg. "I have friends that are married, and have kids, that met on the ski team. I know people that stayed at Marist because of their bond with the ski team."

Coan is one of those people.

"I know as a freshman, the only reason that I came back as a sophomore was because of the ski team," said Coan. "[Upperclassmen] were so supportive, telling me I could stay at their house, always asking me how I was doing, and it was really nice to have that support system."

 Hanenberg believes that the team's status as a club sport, and the responsibility that is placed upon the leaders of the team, helps contribute to the bond among the ski team.

 "There are three or four members of the team who really run the whole organization," Hanenberg said. "I think there's something about having to be in charge of your own thing, not having a coach that does everything for you, and not having the school do everything for you; it creates a bond."

Club sports leaders are given a significant amount of responsibility. Due to their status, major financial and administrative decisions are made by students, in ways that would be handled by higher-ups in an NCAA sport.

Kristy Nix, the Coordinator of Intramurals and Club Sports, oversees all of the eleven club sports on campus. The ski team reports to her for assistance with all of their administrative processes. One of the biggest hurdles for every club on campus is financial maintenance.

"Each club sport on campus has a budget," Nix said, "While varsity sports have a budget as well, it's a lot bigger than what we run with here."

"The team has a president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary," Nix said, "They have coaches, but it is predominantly student run. They get to make the decisions, and for the most part, have control over things."

The distinction between club and NCAA sports is typically one that is determined and adhered to by the Athletic Director, the Director of College Activities, and the Vice President of Club of Affairs.

Marist College's Director of College Activities, Bob Lynch explained what makes a club team different than the NCAA clubs the school sponsors.

"The sports club experience helps our students in between intramurals and varsity sports," Lynch said. "The men and women who are involved in these sports clubs are usually a little more competitive. They don't necessarily want to go into varsity, but they want to be competitive at the level of the sport they're in."

Lynch added that there is a letter of permission necessary from the Athletic Director to determine whether or not the students are allowed to pursue the sport at a club level.

Yet, the challenge emerges for this club, while being mostly dependent upon itself to continue to make the decisions necessary to continue its existence, must also think about remaining competitive.

"We practice in the gym two days a week for a couple months, just do some light workouts, some  team-building, get to know everybody, see who would be a good fit for the team," said Bartosik. "Right after Thanksgiving we take a day trip up to Hunter Mountain, and we put everyone through drills to see who can ski, to see how good at maneuvering around obstacles they are, and to see how well they would do, and we pick the best skiers for the spots that we have."

The tournaments that the ski team attends are held in Vermont, New York, and other states throughout the northeast. The team puts their practice to the test in these tournaments, and they compete against the other six teams in their league. While the team's performance may vary from year to year, a common thread connects the years--the team's van trips to these tournaments

"We use two vans provided by the school that leave Friday night," Coan said. "There are typically eight or nine kids to a van usually driven by a coach or an alumni."

These trips are a valued as an exercise in team building.

"It's a unique experience," said Bartosik. "We take a road trip for the weekend, we're all cooped up in a tiny little van all the way up to Vermont...Those are some of the best times that we have are on thevan rides, hanging out together. That's what keeps us together as one big family."

It becomes evident through interacting with the team that they truly find comfort in the strength of the community they have built. While some years have been more competitive than others, what emerges as the most prominent theme is not performance, placement, or timing. What the team values most is their ability to build a permanent bond with each other.

While there may be a smaller budget for the club sports on campus, it certainly is challenging to put a price on that.


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