In 1967, I was 10 at the time, my dad took the family skiing at Badger Pass in California. It was the first time my older brother, younger sister, and I had ever seen snow, and we were going to learn how to ski! I'll never forget walking into the rental shop and the clerk saying, "Raise your hand" as he placed a pair of skis next to me with the tips at my wrist. He then handed me a pair of leather boots and a pair of poles and we were off to the slopes.
We couldn't afford lessons, so the three of us sat on the side of the slope and watched other people until we eventually figured it out (with a lot of falling). I remember the rope tow being the most exciting and challenging part. From that first day, I knew I was hooked!
I started my snowsports career working in a rental shop, and one day a blue jacket (our term for instructors) told me he'd seen me skiing and said I should try out to be an instructor. I did, and I got my own blue jacket to start instructing in the 1996-97 season at Snow Summit in California. Since then I have achieved my Alpine Level III and Snowboard Level II certifications.
Fast forward to the 2017-18 season and, at 61, I am working as a weekend instructor at Bear Mountain, California. I have been a PSIA-AASI member since 199, and can confidently say that PSIA-AASI has given me the drive and motivation to keep learning, growing, and inspiring others to be better at what they aspire to. My favorite member benefits are the pro deals, of course, and also the opportunities to develop my knowledge and experience through events and training.
I’ve definitely had some memorable events with the association. I was in the same group as Glen Plake when I took my Alpine Level III exam at Mammoth Mountain in California. It was inspiring to see a skier at his level discipline himself to understand and learn the movement patterns – the whole event was just awesome.
The recognition that comes with PSIA-AASI certifications has definitely helped me professionally by giving me more credibility. I also apply many of the same concepts I use in teaching, such as interpersonal skills, to my personal life – there’s a lot you can transfer between what makes a good instructor that also helps you be a better person. To me, the best thing about being an instructor is making a connection, seeing people's faces light up when something “clicks” and they have a breakthrough.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of 32 Degrees. Log in now to the online version to access other great content that will up your instructor game.
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