Ski Team Improving Skills…February 4, 2015
By Jess Thomas
For Nashoba Regional High School alpine ski coach Mike Gormley, getting skiers to the state level is a goal, but his greatest satisfaction comes from seeing his skiers improve and learn.
Gormley has been the head alpine ski coach since 1995 and has seen many years of skiers of all different experience levels come through the Nashoba program.
Three years ago, the girls’ team behind Rachel and Jenna Peabody and Kat Malley went to states. This success,
however, doesn’t happen every year as most participants do not have race experience before high school.
Currently, the top skiers for the Lady Chieftains are freshmen Michelle Frasch of Berlin and Charlotte Hatcher of Stow.
“They’re coming along with strong results,” Gormley said. “They’re my one-two skiers.”
He noted that both Frasch and Hatcher had quite a bit of racing experience before high school at places such as the Wachusett program.
Gormley said that the top-16 qualifiers from the eight teams in the Mass Bay West Omega Division are invited to states and if a team has three qualifiers, then the team gets to race at states.
Frasch stands in the 26th overall spot for girls as of Thursday, Jan. 29, following a tough race. Hatcher is in 28th place, as each look to push into the top 16.
On the boys’ side, Avery Colby of Bolton consistently finishes as a top skier for Nashoba. He is in 32nd place overall.
Captains for Nashoba are siblings Andrew and Tess Anderson, of Stow.
Having his squad at the bottom of the standings isn’t discouraging for Gormley because he knows that most of his skiers are just looking to improve and have an outlet where they are able to race on a course. Nashoba has 10 freshmen on the team this year.
“Being young and not having a ton of race experience,” Gormley said of the lower finishes. “They’re pretty much recreational skiers who are learning to race and haven’t been racing all of their careers.”
For some, Monday and Wednesday at Nashoba Valley are the only training opportunities before races on Thursdays.
“A lot of my kids, that’s the only gate training they actually get in,” Gormley stated. “You’ve got to put in a lot of time if you’re really going to get to the level where you might be in the top 16.”
Teams such as Lincoln-Sudbury, Winchester and Wayland, who are loaded with experienced skiers, make it difficult for Nashoba to crack the top 16.
But the main focus in the end for Gormley is knowing that his skiers are having a good time and improving.
“Just seeing the skill development in these kids, even if they are 50th in the league, where they came from having no ability to getting that experience,” Gormley said. “That’s a huge accomplishment and pleasure in my mind.
“A lot of them have come back and said that (skiing) was the best part of their high school experience.”
Whether it is Frasch wanting to complete 20 more runs in practice or a skier who finishes last but is giving their all and improving from the beginning to the end of the season, Gormley embraces it all.
And he always knows that more skiers will be on their way to Nashoba in a matter of time.
“I’ve got more kids that are coming up through the pipeline that are in middle school and younger,” Gormley said.
And with the blizzard of 2015, skiers from all over New England will have plenty of snow to work with the rest of the winter.