Few can forget the first time they struck out at bat in Little League while their parents were watching. Or in Pop Warner football, when they recovered a fumble and ran the wrong direction scoring a safety for the opposing team. Even worse are the memories of trying out for a team and not making it. Things like this happen every day. But not everyone’s interested in hitting a ball that’s thrown at them at 80 miles per hour, or getting a pat on the ass to signify that they took one for the team. In the past, if you were a snowboarder and you wanted to be on a team, you really had no other options.
If your parents had enough money, they could send you to a snowboarding academy where you would get one on one instruction and an education to rival any prep school. But boarding academies are few and far between, and cost a hell of a lot of money. For the masses, they are nothing more than a pipe dream.
In the past few years, though, things have begun to change. Acceptance and credibility of the sport has opened up new doors, as more people are getting involved. High schools have added snowboarding PE classes to their curriculum. Universities and colleges have their own snowboarding clubs, and Outward Bound Schools offer several different courses geared toward snowboarding.
With all the new options out there, you’re sure to find an organization that will give you what you are looking for, without the inconvenience of being forced to wear a jock strap or a sports bra.
High School Snowboarding Teams
For years, skiers had it so good; they could ski any mountain they pleased, had the most technically advanced neon clothes on the market, and starred in unforgettable movies like Hot Dog The Movie. But back in the day the thing snowboarders envied most about skiers was in high school they could sign up for ski PE. I remember spending countless lunchtimes watching girls in spandex ski-racing suits board a bus and drive up to the local mountain, while I sadly ate in the cafeteria and dreaded my fifth period PE class, which was dominated by macho instructors in tight shorts. Luckily, for most of you, the discrimination has finally ended and snowboarders, too, can shred their way to an A. High schools and even some middle schools in mountain towns (and those within a reasonable drive to the snow) have recently added snowboarding PE to their curriculum.
Snowboarding PE is set up in the same manner as other specialized PE classes. In the winter, training occurs on the mountain; in the off-season, a dry-land training regimen is usually followed to strengthen team members for the upcoming season.
Snowboard teams usually compete against other schools and individuals in local contest series, such as the USASA (United States Amateur Snowboard Association). Passes to the local resort are offered at a discounted price, but even with this, the price of transportation and equipment can run into the thousands. Fortunately, most coaches organize fund-raising events, and god knows washing cars and selling candy bars beat the hell out of running laps or playing field hockey.
If your school currently offers ski PE, but not snowboarding PE, do a little research and see how many of your classmates would be interested in such a program. Then, have the parents strike up a proposal and approach the local school board with the idea.
Outward Bound Schools
What’s your idea of a vacation? Is it swishing down the slopes at Aspen with a double nonfat latte in your hand, followed by a facial and a mud bath at some posh spa? Maybe finding out what makes you tick as you hike through the backcountry with all your gear and food on your back, building your own snowcave to sleep in, and learning how to survive in the backcountry, as you do powder turns down untracked runs is more your style?
Outward Bound Schools offer individuals a chance to choose their own snowboarding adventure. Currently, Outward Bound Schools are not involved with the freestyle aspect of our sport. These schools are located throughout the continental U.S., however, only a select few offer snowboarding courses. Aside from snowboarding, they also offer courses in adventure-style sports such as rock climbing, kayaking, and getting dropped off in the middle of the wilderness so you can rely on newly learned skills to get your butt out alive.
Prices for these programs are often steep, however most offer scholarships for full or at least partial costs of tuition; high school and college PE credits are given for certain courses.
If Only Every College Was Like This
Johnson State College located in Johnson, Vermont, is a school of roughly 1,400 students, and is the first college to offer a chance to snowboard while cramming for a midterm in physics or strolling through seven years of general ed. The park at Johnson State is the only school-sponsored, on-campus terrain park in the country.
The terrain park is 680 feet long by 70 feet wide and consists of several tabletops, a quarterpipe, and two railslides. The park is completely maintained by the students, who have future plans to add lights for night boarding. Currently, no college credits are given to students who participate in the maintenance and riding of the park.
Snowboarding clubs are everywhere; not a day goes by that I’m not hounded by the Arizona State Snowdevils to join their snowboarding club, or a hippie tries to recruit me into their Green Club. Personally, I’ve never been a hippie, although I enjoy listening to Bob Marley, and clubs have never been my pot of tea, but if they were, I surely would join a snowboarding club. They blow doors on your local book club and are a great way to meet people.
Clubs tend not to offer coaching or certified instructions, but instead act as a magnet–they attract people with the same interests and attitudes. Leaders are usually voted in and primarily are the ones who organize trips and events. Trips to the mountain are set up at different times throughout the year, and depending on how far away you live from the nearest resort, some of these trips may be overnight. Now, if you happen to join a co-ed club, you can imagine just how much fun these trips can be.
Clubs offer the feeling of a team, even if there are no organized competitions. Memberships are usually dirt cheap and members often get some sort of discount at resorts, a free T-shirt, or something else along those lines. Another perk is few members are turned down. But, if for some unexplainable reason (like that giant sore on your mouth), you are turned down, you can always start up your own club and automatically elect yourself the leader.