On December 3rd, 2015 the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club inducted Mary and Keith Hatanaka into our Hall of Fame as Dedicated Volunteers. Keith and Mary had two children that went through the AVSC Nordic Program, Laura and John. They spent 12 years as dedicated parent volunteers and have continued to give back to the club ever since, totaling over 20 years of much appreciated service! At the Hall of Fame Dinner, Keith and Mary gave a beautiful speech that made me feel so proud of our Nordic Community past and present. I wanted to make sure these words were heard by all Nordic families so I have typed them up for you here. Please take the time to read this. I hope you feel the same sense of Nordic Community pride and inspiration it gave me!
When I asked Mary for her speech notes, she wanted to be sure that I communicate her intention to share this award with all the Nordic parent volunteers of their era! Congratulations to all our wonderful and giving Nordic Parents. You are very deserving of this recognition.
This is an incredible honor that I hardly feel worthy of- I still cannot believe it! We would like to thank AVSC and all of the coaches who made ours and our children’s time with the ski club so unforgettable: Toby Morse, Ruthie Brown, Travis Moore, Austin Weiss, Ben Dodge, John Callahan and Sarah Kuhn. We also want to thank our fellow volunteer Nordic parents who worked, traveled, spectated, cheered and celebrated alongside us. We will cherish all of their friendships forever and hope they realize that we feel that they share in this award with us.
That is what the Nordic team boiled down to for me: the friendships, not only with the other parents and coaches, but between our kids, their teammates and their competition from the other teams.
I remember my daughter Laura racing a sprint race when she was in middle school. At the finish line the top girls collapsed from exhaustion at the finish line, only to stand up and engage in a group hug encompassing girls from 3 other teams. We always encourage our kids as they left for a race to “have fun, make friends, and go fast”- In that order…
There’s something about being a Nordic parent that makes you want to volunteer for the various positions that present themselves during the course of your children’s Nordic careers. I think it has something to do with the parents who came before us and served as role models as to what needed to get done. I remember my first year working the bonfire dinner at the golf course. Now, that was a huge undertaking! But the more experienced parents showed us the way and as always, it was not only fun but a huge success. Afterwards, I remember thinking to myself “if in addition to my son John, my daughter Laura goes through Nordic until her senior year, we will be doing this for the next 12 years!” And guess what, WE DID! But when it came time for me to recruit volunteers for AHS Project Graduation- guess who I turned to? You guessed it, my fellow Nordic parents- the best volunteers around! Who else was as well versed in food pick-up, presentation and delivery?
So, in conclusion, I would like to ask every Nordic parent here tonight, including those of you who are also coaches, to raise your glasses, give yourselves a hand and share in this award with us, after all, teamwork isn’t a word that just applied to our kids.
You know, when I found out that I had to make a speech tonight, I knew I needed help. I would like to thank my wife for her help in writing this speech.
When I look back on our years with the Nordic family so many memories come to mind.
I remember Easter egg hunts on skis up at the North Star Preserve. One year, there was a fox who followed the kids around trying to steal colored eggs from their baskets.
In the early years, the team used the James E Moore Pool maintenance building for their club house. It had a couple of old couches and some ramshackle locker. The team waxed their skis outside.
Back then, there was only one old AVSC van, so we had to organize transportation to the events. We would drive my daughter Laura, Noah Hoffman, and Ryan Waldron to a lot of the races. John would get to ride in the van with the big kids. Laura and Noah had an issue with motion sickness so occasionally we would pull over and let them out. They decided the best way to feel better was to jog in front of the car. Safe? Not today, but it was on the trough road and it was deserted.
In 2006, Ruthie and Toby took a group of the older kids to Norway where they were able to ski the Birkebeiner course. That’s where my son John turned 16. It was an unforgettable experience.
On one occasion, we were on Howelson Hill in Steamboat Springs for a race. During the warm up, Simi Hamilton decided to try the new half pipe on his race skis, he broke them. Ruthie had to scramble and find an old pair of skis from somewhere for Simi to race on. He won. He also was in trouble. Even then, after the race he took the entire team through the half pipe afterwards.
Then there were our kids stories of some of their practices which involved riding the buttermilk lift after school with their Nordic skis. They would then play lacrosse which became known as Nordcross as they raced down the mountain. And who will ever forget, Nord on Boards. The Nordic teams brief foray into snowboarding.
For several years the Nordic team raised money selling firewood. The athletes and parents would show up at 8AM to a stack of 20 foot logs and we would spend the day cutting, splitting, delivering and stacking all of the wood. A ton of work. Thankfully, they don’t do that fundraiser anymore but it was a great team building event for both the kids and parents.
Going up on the Mesa to ski the weekend before Thanksgiving is one of my fondest memories. The snow was almost always perfect, the setting was beautiful and all of the families had a great time skiing and socializing and the cinnamon rolls at the Grand Mesa Lodge were so big that it was necessary to share one with 3 or 4 people!
My best memories encompass all of the above and more. Our kids developed a value system based on hard work, integrity, caring and respect for their fellow teammates. They will always love Nordic skiing and the opportunity it presents to enjoy our beautiful outdoors.
One of the first things I remember Toby telling us when our family first became a part of the Nordic team was that his hope was that the athletes would develop a lifelong love of Nordic skiing. Well Toby, mission accomplished.
Thank you all!