The long-awaited envelope finally arrived in the mail. It was THE letter. You know the one from my top-choice Graduate School. I paused for a moment, my future momentarily in flux, the anxiety building as I tore it open. Then relief; I got in! I had about an hour of elated phone calls to Mom and Dad, but then the adrenaline rush abated and reality set in: if I went to Grad School, I would have to give up ski coaching. Excitement turned to sadness.
Later that day, after a few hours in the office, I took the Full-Time team up to the mountain for training. An hour and a half of easy skiing was on the schedule and as we glided along, I fell into my own thoughts. Finally, one of the kids said, â€œSara, what’s the matter with you today? You’re not as cheerful as usual.â€ I said, â€œWell, I found out today that I got into Grad School.â€ I got a lot of bewildered looks and realized that I needed to explain myself more thoroughly. I explained that although going back to school was a positive step forward in my life, I was extremely bummed to leave behind the ski world and the athletes with whom I had spent so much time.
My winter working with MBSEF was eventful and rewarding. Just as everyone in the Nordic department, I served in a wide variety of positions. Volunteer Coordinator, Race Coordinator, Masters Coach, Middle School Coach, Full-Time Coach, waxer, driver; all appropriate terms to describe what this job position entails. Duties are divided up well within the program, with Ben Husaby directing the show, Brenna Knowles heading up the Middle School program and tying up loose ends, and the Assistant Coach filling in where needed.
The season began with a split of my time between volunteer mailings or pre-season paperwork in the office and training with the kids in the beautiful fall weather of Bend, Oregon. We had some great long runs and rollerskis which offered me plenty of time to get to know the team before winter set in.
My hours increased as I prepared for the first race of the season. MBSEF hosts 9 races: a weekend-long JOQ, 2 Marathons, and a variety of other events including a Duathlon and the popular New Year’s Relay. The Assistant Coach is responsible for coordinating volunteers for all of the races for the season. I was a bit nervous before the first race, but once I realized that the core groups of MBSEF Nordic Volunteers were enthusiastic and knowledgeable about racing, I knew we were in for a great season.
As winter settled in, the routine of office work in the morning and skiing every afternoon became the norm. The Assistant Coach is usually responsible for coaching one Masters and one Middle School session per week, focusing attention on the Full-Time juniors most other days. The weekends consisted of either traveling to a JOQ or putting on a race up at Mt. Bachelor. With 3 out of town JOQs and 9 races, the season flew smoothly by.
March approached, the kids raced in Alaska, and we hosted our final race of the season. As I sorted supplies, folded bibs and filed papers for the last time, I realized that when I arrived in the fall I had a lot of coaching experience but not much in the way of race coordination. Working at MBSEF greatly increased my knowledge of what it takes to run a successful Nordic program. I look back on my winter with MBESF and am confident that when I return to coaching after Grad school, I will be able to utilize the skills I learned this winter — coaching, organizing, waxing — and make a significant contribution to our sport.
MBSEF does an excellent job of promoting Nordic skiing. We host professional races and provide every opportunity to help propel our athletes towards success – both in skiing and in life. It is an organization I am proud to be associated with and that I am sad to leave behind. It is my hope that whoever takes over the Nordic Assistant position for next year will have as positive an experience as I did.
If you are interested, please contact Ben Husaby at 541-388-0002 or visit http://www.mbsef.org for more program info.