Ski team, with new coach, gets ready for 2020 season
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The varsity ski team from Grayling High School – after weeks of practicing, some inside, some outside – put its preparation to the test during its first meets of the 2020 season last week and this week.
Elle Smith, new coach of the program, said “the kids have worked incredibly hard leading up to this season.”
“In the fall, November and December, we conditioned four days a week. We did running, interval training, weight training, and (high intensity interval training). The stronger the kids can be, more specifically, the kids’ knees, the better off they are before the season starts,” Coach Smith said.
Going into the first week of competition, the Vikings had 12 skiers (five girls, seven boys).
“Numbers are a little low, but we have some great kids,” Coach Smith said.
Coach Smith said the squad has a mix of experienced skiers and newcomers to the team.
“We have a few that are freshmen coming up from our middle school program. CeCe Cvitkovich and Desmond O’Reilly are our two seniors/captains this year, and I am so excited to see what they both do. Ellie Wagner should be pushing on CeCe all season, which will be awesome to see. Trevor Kline and Anthony Fisher are two great athletes; I expect them to bring home some hardware as well,” Coach Smith said.
The team started its official practices in late November. The squad had to start inside due to lack of snow at the time. After its indoor sessions, the Vikings were eventually able to get onto the hills once there was enough snow.
“My focus for the kids the first few practices we had over Christmas break was to see where they were at skills wise, so I could know how to help them throughout the season. I am trying to get a feel of where each of my skiers is at so I can adjust my help accordingly. Another goal for the early practices was to get them comfortable in gates and ready for our first meet,” Coach Smith said.
Coach Smith said she wants to see steady growth from her skiers during the season.
“I expect to see my skiers grow tremendously. I have a few beginners who are already skiing proficient. My advanced skiers are working hard and making some great improvements as well. I am excited to see my racers grow this season,” Coach Smith said.
Team goals? Coach Smith said she wants the skiers to enjoy the sport and the camaraderie while competing.
“Being a small team, many of the goals are more individual. I have some really advanced kids that are hopeful to make it to the state championships. My goal for the team is for them to make valuable connections with each other. I also want them to improve their skiing, and to experience the amazing culture that ski racing has. Skiing can be a lifelong sport, and it is such a great opportunity that they have been exposed to it in this community,” Coach Smith said.
Coach Smith grew up in Grayling and skied for the Grayling High School team. She said her time with the program was a great experience.
“Growing up, the Grayling ski team was an integral part of how I was raised. The team was such a big part of my life, and my coaches had such a valuable impact on me. I knew that when I decided to go into teaching that I wanted to coach as well,” Coach Smith said.
Coach Smith skied during college and started coaching high school skiing at Mount Pleasant.
“I was the assistant coach of Mount Pleasant’s varsity ski team for two years as I finished school, and landed my first teaching job in Mount Pleasant. Being a coach there was such a great experience. (The coach) runs such a great program and I learned a ton. Our girls went to states both seasons that I coached there,” Coach Smith said.
Smith is now a special education teacher at Grayling High School as well as the ski coach.
“When I was offered the job here in Grayling, I was so excited to be able to help run that team that built the person that I am today,” Coach Smith said. “I can only hope that my racers are as impacted by this sport and team as I have been.”