The Smithers Ski and Snowboard Club is welcoming five coaches with the help of a new grant as they start gearing up for the upcoming season.
The club recently received a grant from ViaSport, a Vancouver-based organization, to help increase the number of women involved in sports. The $1,200-grant will go towards training five new local female coaches to teach skiing and snowboarding.
“I’ve got three snowboarders and two alpine skiers who want to get involved with the club and start coaching these kids,” said Jan Wengelin, club program director and head coach.
“It’s always hard to get girls to join the club, but when you have female coaches, you’ll see a bit of a spike when girls join the ski club. Especially in a small town, the more we can do for girls in sports to boost their confidence and who they are, I think it’s a huge role that they’re taking on.”
Madeline Kelson, who has signed on to take the ski coaching program in December, hopes to pass on her love for the sport.
“I love kids and I love skiing,” said the 16-year-old who has been skiing since she was three.
“It would be cool to help people learn how to love it too and inspire them. I thought it would also teach me more about skiing.”
Kelson said she is also excited to help out with the growing number of kids in the club and put her own swing on existing coaching techniques.
Telkwa’s Kathy Fraser has two kids in the club and also decided to join the snowboard coaching crew.
“It’s just another way to get involved,” said Fraser, who also coaches soccer.
“I want to find ways to improve their abilities and keep them snowboarding and make it fun.”
The coaches will take the alpine and snowboard courses in December at the club house on Hudson Bay Mountain and will learn everything from basic coaching skills and safe training environments, to assessing the skill level of groups.
Following the course, they will need roughly a year to coach and practice their skills before becoming a fully-certified coach.
Wengelin said it costs approximately $500-700 to go through the course.
“Coaching is one of those things where, once you start coaching, you might want to coach soccer next summer. It opens up more opportunities for people to get involved in the community,” he said.
Aside from adding to their coaching staff this season, the club has been busy coming up with programs and projects to help the club expand.
According to Wengelin, they hope to build a new club cabin on the mountain (the current one has been there for many years), but are still looking for funding.
He also hopes to work with the school district to develop a program similar to the Hockey Academy at Smithers Secondary School, where students can go alpine skiing and snowboarding and receive credits for it.
The season generally kicks off the third week in November.