H.S. Skiing: PVCICS alpine program continues to grow

  • Aine Doherty of Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School competes in the slalom event of PVIAC Race No. 1 held at Berkshire East in Charlemont on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Juliet Scott of Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School competes in the slalom event of PVIAC Race No. 1 held at Berkshire East in Charlemont in January. STAFF FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • PVCICS alpine ski captains Sebastian English, left, and Juliet Scott have watched the program grow under their leadership since its creation three years ago. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/DAN ENGLISH

  • The PVCICS boys alpine ski is shown at Berkshire East. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/DAN ENGLISH

  • The PVCICS girls alpine ski is shown at Berkshire East. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/DAN ENGLISH

Staff Intern
Published: 2/21/2021 5:05:56 PM

For three years, the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School alpine ski program has competed against the best in Western Mass. each week. Competing in the PVIAC weekly races at Berkshire East, the team competes in the South Division against schools like Ludlow, East Longmeadow and Amherst.

PVCICS’ program was actually started by students, specifically Juliet Scott and Sebastian English.

“Me and Juliet [Scott] had both skied at Berkshire East for many years prior and when we went to high school, neither of us had played a winter sport,” explained English, a junior at PVCICS. “We had a few siblings that we could get into it, so it took off from there.”

Though growing, PVCICS has few sports teams, particularly those that compete at the MIAA level. English and Scott, who were incoming freshmen at the time, knew that if they wanted to help create a ski program, they had to get the ground moving on their own.

“Being at PVCICS since kindergarten, it has a culture of ‘Make it happen,’” said Scott, also a junior. “Even though we had a lot of support from our parents in the beginning, we really were the ones that tried to expand the program.”

With the support of Juliet’s father, Dave Scott, the teams began with three girls and seven boys. Since then, the program has grown thanks in large part to the ambition of Scott and English to seek out new skiers.

“I made several flyers and put them around campus,” said English. “Another thing I did was I wrote an article for the school’s newspaper and put in my contact info along with Juliet’s.”

While English was writing articles and posting flyers, Scott looked to grow the program by connecting with fellow skiers at the local ski club.

“Every Friday, people would come up to ski on Berkshire East,” said Scott. “Since I was there as well, I would connect with the people that came up and see if they were from the area. From that, we recruited Aine Doherty and Emily Chartier to the team.”

One of Scott’s main drives in recruiting more skiers was a result of the program’s first year. PVCICS was unable to score as a team during those meets due to low numbers.

“It really stunk not getting a team score,” she replied. “We were happy to get our personal scores, but we would never place at a meet because of how small our team was.”

Luckily, the word-of-mouth method proved quite successful for Scott, as Chartier, a newly-recruited senior, managed to recruit one of her close friends to the squad and the team began to branch out. The squad needed a coach, and Sebastian’s father and assistant coach, Dan English, reached out to Mike Belanger.

“I was actually walking my dog,” began Belanger, the third-year head coach. “[English] stopped me while I was walking and just asked me if I wanted to be the head coach of the team. I had known his kids, as well as the Scott’s kids, because they were in my neighborhood, so I was more than happy to accept the invitation.”

Belanger took over for Dave Scott, who had a scheduling conflict with work and was unable to get the team to the mountain for practice. With Belanger in charge and a foundation of skiers to coach, the team began its season, offering an opportunity for students ranging from sixth through 12th grade.

This season has certainly been an odd one. Skiers aren’t allowed to change in the locker room at Berkshire East, and only two people are allowed on the lift at a time.

As a result of the changes, the two juniors have used different techniques to keep team chemistry strong.

“We used to take over the gym and do dry land workouts to prepare for the season,” said English. “With this year, however, we switched to taking a lot of hikes. It doesn’t necessarily prepare us for the season, but they are rigorous workouts, and the team has become quite close on these hikes.”

With the program heading toward the end of its third season, Scott and English are quite proud of their accomplishments. The team has expanded overall, and PVCICS has a healthy 13-member squad this winter.

For Scott, seeing the growth of the program has been the best part of her tenure on the slopes.

“Watching my teammates, especially those that have never raced before, improve over course of the season, is amazing,” she said.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy