Students take initiative on alpine ski team



The alpine ski team starts the winter season with a new a new head coach. Ethan Ghosh said that even with the new coach the team is mainly student run.

The official ski season is in full swing, and the alpine ski team members’ commitment to their team and friends goes far beyond race day.

Prior to the new year, the team members trained in the mezzanine every Monday through Thursday; together, they lifted weights, did cardio and went on runs at Downes Field. Upon their recent return to Blue Hills, the team hosts practices three days a week, with Thursdays dedicated to racing. Even with a new coach, this co-ed group of junior varsity (JV) and varsity athletes aren’t making space for any setbacks.

Former head coach Mayra Hernandez declared a temporary leave of absence last spring, after multiple seasons of managing the team’s administration. This left the ski team in need of a new coach until Keith Carson, father of co-captain and senior Lancia Carson, stepped up to take on the role one week before the start of the winter season.

Co-captain and senior Ethan Ghosh said that the coach’s main responsibility is managing the logistics behind the scenes, with transportation, food and ski passes. Ghosh said that due to Hernandez’s lack of formal background in skiing, the captains are used to taking initiative with the on-land and on-snow training.

“A lot of practice is captain-run. We’re like mini coaches,” Ghosh said. “We create the workouts, we decide who’s on varsity and JV, we coach the newer skiers and we help the people on varsity.”

Other co-captain and senior Olivia Sheehan said that Keith Carson has more experience with ski-racing than Hernandez, but that the captain’s role has so far remained the same this season. Sheehan said that Keith Carson and Hernandez’s minimal influence is not a weakness of the team, but rather an aspect they embrace.

“A positive of having such a student-run team is that the captains and teammates are giving feedback, [as] opposed to the coach. I think that makes everyone invested in having their best possible race,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan said that the captains strive to create a community that appropriately balances interpersonal competitiveness with group support, especially since most races are individual. They hope that working together as a team will motivate the athletes to fulfill their potential while also forming a close-knit community.

“Telling people we’ll have a race by the middle of January isn’t motivating unless people work together as a team to find that motivation,” Sheehan said.

In efforts of creating more team bonding opportunities, the captains have organized a whole-team ice-skating activity and are looking to set up a capture-the-flag game.

“It’s so important to build team aspects outside of the races and outside of practices and to just make sure we have a cohesive team environment,” Sheehan said.

Lancia Carson said that the team enthusiasm shines on race day when everybody cheers each other on to boost collective morale and team comradery.

“You race for your own time, but it still feels like we’re all together. It’s one community,” Lancia Carson said.

Sheehan said that some of her favorite memories from the sport are from the support she’s received from her teammates when pushing out of the start gate.

“We are always watching each other and giving each other feedback,” Sheehan said. “While we’re competing for the 30 seconds that we’re racing down the course, we are teammates first and foremost.”