For the majority of the Springfield College student body, the lack of snow this winter has been a welcomed sight on Alden Street.
For members of the club Ski and Snowboard team, it wasn’t as wonderful.
“It’s been a little disappointing,” team president Tim Andrews said in regards to the lack of snow this season. “We all like to go skiing and snowboarding. A lot of times in the past, after races, people like to go free-skiing. But with the lack of snow, once the races are over, we’re kind of over.”
The club Ski and Snowboarding team, now over 20 years old, is in the midst of its winter season. It competes in the McBrine Division of the USCSA, a collegiate skiing organization which involves many of the teams around New England. The division consists of Springfield College, Yale, University of Rhode Island, Marist, Brandies and Vassar.
Currently, the team has 18 members. As Andrews said, the addition of the snowboarding team has helped boost membership.
“When I was a freshman, we were a very small team,” Andrews said. “Only about nine people. Then we added snowboarding to the club, and that’s basically doubled our numbers.”
The club spends its weekends away at meets. Each meet is set up similarly: Saturday consists of the slalom races, and Sunday consists of the grand slalom races.
“We have five weekends in the second semester for races,” Andrews said. “We’ll leave on Friday night, we’ll rent a house for Friday night. We’ll race Saturday, stay at the house on Saturday night, and then race again on Sunday.”
Andrews added that the school has helped out with payment. Given that winter snow sports tend to lean towards the pricey side, extra backing from the school has been incredibly beneficial to the team’s success.
“Skiing is really expensive. To rent the house, the lift tickets, it’s really expensive,” Andrews said. “So we’re fortunate to really not pay that much. We pay about $20 a day for skiing.”
The weekly meets all lead up to one thing – regionals. The top three teams in each division qualify, and the top racer from the non-qualified teams also earn a spot in the competition. Andrews earned a spot on behalf of Springfield, which did not qualify. Regionals will take place on Feb. 20-21 at Sugarloaf Mountain.
“[Regionals] have a bunch of divisions, all along the east. Our division is more club teams, and then the other ones…some of them are club, and some of them are varsity and there’s like UConn, UMass, Castleton, MIT, WPI, Babson, UMaine. Basically any school who does not have a Division 1 program.” said Andrews.
The skiing and snowboarding team shares a similar struggle with other club sports: it doesn’t have the ability to recruit. Essentially, you don’t know what you’re going to get year in and year out.
“I think one thing is that we don’t have a lot of actual people with racing experience,” Andrews said. “We’re a team of varied experience and ability levels – which is nice, because we have people interested in the sport. But as far as recruiting goes, none of the schools that we compete against really recruit either. But once we get to regionals, skiers have a lot more experience. If you’re a skier with a lot more experience, you’d go to a bigger D1 school. At Springfield, you come here for the program and the education.”
Andrews added that publicity would help the most. When he says he’s on the ski team, he’s usually asked the same question: we have a ski team?
“We’ve been trying to change that,” Andrews said to the anonymity of the team. “But it’s been an uphill battle.”