Pro File: Erin Connors
This article originally appeared on page 22 in the Fall 2020 issue of 32 Degrees Magazine.
How did you get started in snowsports?
I grew up in the Windham’s ski program. My family is a big winter sports family, so I’d spent weekends at the resort with my 22+ cousins. At 13, I joined the snowboarding program. When I was 14, I started training as an instructor.
What made you want to be an instructor?
I wanted to be able to share my love for the sport. Becoming a snowboard instructor also had the added “cool factor,” and I hoped it would allow me to stand out on my college resume.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I love trying to make up fun games to keep the kids engaged. For example, in the “snowball game,” snowboarders carry snowballs down the mountain to work on stabilizing their upper bodies. They have the added bonus of being able to hit me with the snowballs if they make it all the way down the trail. We also play a “Star Wars game,” in which students still carry a snowball, but – to help them work on linking turns – they can only throw the snowball on a toeside turn. Basically, I trick them into improving their skills. These kids are in school five days a week; they don’t want to feel like they are in school on the weekend.
What’s your favorite part of running Windham’s Junior Instructor Program?
Last season was my 12th working at Windham, so I’ve seen a lot of students come and go. My favorite part is having a season or two with students I have coached in some way over the last 12 years; as they become “Juniors” they really have the opportunity to grow up and take responsibility.
Teaching has such impact on their confidence. When they first start trying to teach a lesson, they feel awkward and uncertain of how the lesson should progress. Later in the season, you see their confidence increase and they start to really present the lesson.
In school, presentation skills are important. So, this aspect of the junior program impacts their school performance. A lot of my juniors express an interest in teaching as a full-time career, so it’s always interesting to see how these students progress over the next few years!
How has teaching helped you achieve your own goals?
I’m turning 26 this year. At 28, I will have been teaching snowboarding for half of my life. As a first job, I learned responsibility from teaching. I’ve worked in sales since graduating from college, where presentation skills, communication, and confidence play a huge role. A lot of my current skills come from my time teaching snowboarding.
What does being a member of the snowsports community mean to you?
What began as a fun winter job and resume booster extended past high school, college, and into my adult life. The snowsports community has been with me for every stage of my life. I met some of my closest friends when growing up at Windham and snowsports have allowed me to grow closer to family through a sport we all love.
Learn more about PSIA-AASI’s Junior Instructor Certificate Program.