Opinion: Time to rebuild the snowboard team


Alex Schoff, Editor

Snowboarders have long gotten a bad rap. People have a stereotype in mind of the classic snowboarder: a rude, baggy clothes-wearing, stoner kid. Not only is this not true but it has lead people who are not in the community to take advantage of us, and I believe I’m speaking for many in our community when I say, enough.

When I was looking at Sierra Nevada College as a prospective student, my dad and I met with Chris DeLeon, the athletic director. In that meeting Chris talked about how SNC was winter sports oriented, and that the ski and snowboard teams were a high priority. When I arrived for my first semester, I quickly learned this wasn’t the truth. In my first semester the snowboard team was left in the dark about who the coach would be, and it was left up to students to figure out how to get our passes by the opening day at Boreal Mountain. As the season progressed things got better. We never had practices, but we were also the only school to show up to the events, so it all worked out. At the United States College Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) nationals SNC placed second overall, a very impressive team performance. Once the team got back, the coach at the time, Freddy McCarthy, had had enough and quit.

“It seemed like favoritism has been a part of the athletic department for a while now,” McCarthy said. “When the athletic director is also an acting coach for a team, it seems impossible for them not to put their team first.”

Many students on the snowboard team feel the same way. They feel as if the team is cared about less than other sports teams. When the lacrosse team lost their coach, it was huge news. People scrambled to figure out what would happen, and the school was concerned. However, this year is the second season in a row the school year has started with no snowboard coach. Nobody knew what was going to happen with the team and the whole group was working together to figure out what to do, with little word from the athletic department.

“There was never any idea what was going on,” Ben Hojnoski, an SNC junior and member of the snowboard team, said. “Pretty much the whole team was kept in the dark until there was a final decision.”

I don’t know why but it just feels as if the snowboard team is considered less valuable than we should be. We have great competition results and great ideas for the team, but our results aren’t recognized and our ideas aren’t heard. If we sent a few student athletes to the United States of America Snowboard and Ski Association (USASA) nationals where there are students of all ages and set up a booth, like the ski team does, then we would be able to potentially recruit new students. Instead, we only attend USCSA, where everyone the team sees is already attending a different college.

“I think the biggest lack of care was not giving the snowboard and freeski teams someone who was solely dedicated to that team like what the other teams have,” McCarthy said. “That has resulted in a huge lack of recruiting and then a huge amount of budget loss which leads to the teams not having the resources they deserve, and not having someone to advocate for them properly.”

This is not right. People generally don’t come to the mountains of Tahoe to play soccer or lacrosse, they come because it’s a winter sports wonderland. If SNC was able to capitalize on that instead of forcing sports that people didn’t even know were an option here, then SNC could increase the number of new students and keep the ones it has now happy. Some of the best snowboarders in the world have come through these doors. Both Tommy Gesme and Brady Lem went to SNC for a semester before dropping out to actually become something in the snowboard industry. If SNC treated its snowboard team better, it wouldn’t have kids dropping out to make it on their own, they would have all the re- sources they need right here at the school.

SNC wasn’t always like this. It used to put time and money into the program because they knew the investment would pay off. I was talking to my old snow- board coach, Emily Shore, who is an SNC alumna who was on the snowboard team in its heyday. She used to compete in the Revolution Tour, a high-level amateur snowboarding event with multiple venues around the country. According to Emily it was “fully paid for everything, all my entry fees and travel.”

This school has the ability to be as good as it once was. But it has to change its strategy and start focusing on the people who were going to come here for winter sports, instead of going out and recruiting soccer and lacrosse players from towns that have never seen snow.

“No matter who they market to, SNC will always be a snowboard and ski college at heart,” McCarthy said. “Hopefully they realize this soon and prioritize the ski and snowboard teams to become the power- house that it once was.”

Alex Schoff is an SNC sophomore and a member of the SNC Men’s Snowboard team.