Monday, December 14, 2015

Inspiration From The Slopes

We all need a little inspiration now and again.

Recently, I was inspired by a story I read about a young ski jumper named Logan. Logan’s tale originally appeared as part of the USA Nordic Sport Story Project. This project asks every ski jumper or Nordic combined skier (or fan) in the US (or world) to share a short story and photo to be posted on the USA Nordic Sport Story Project blog. Their plan is to share 31 stories - one each day from December 1 to December 31 - in hopes of raising $50,000 for funding the future of ski jumping and Nordic combined in the USA.

In a previous life, I was a ski jumper, so naturally I have been drawn to this project. But Logan’s story was especially relevant to my life and I wanted to share it with you, my blog readers. I reached out to Logan’s mom for permission to share his story, and she generously agreed. So please enjoy the story below, and I hope you find it as inspiring as I do.

Logan Mackey getting ready to launch one in Coleraine, MN

Logan Mackey is 10 years old and ski jumps with the Itasca Ski Club in Coleraine, MN. He is a friendly, generous, and sweet kid, passionate about ships, sirens and ski jumping, and loves life to the fullest. He joined ski jumping as a first grader when we were trying to find ways to help him manage his anxiety and to help advance his learning and motor skills as he had been diagnosed with a Developmental Cognitive Disability. Neither medication nor therapy had helped enough, so why not try ski jumping? 

Junior coach, Sue Kavanagh, was so supportive and engaged with Logan at that very first Learn to Ski Jump Day that he had no doubt about joining the team. As he continued to practice, his ability grew as well as his confidence and social skills. His younger brothers, age 6 and age 4, then started in the sport and Logan was able to help take on a teaching role with them, which also increased his confidence as well as his communication and his ability to lead. As he mastered the 10m hill, I thought he'd be too afraid to even go over to the 20m hill. But with the confidence given by coach Sue and 20m coach Doug Maki, Logan went down the 20m landing with barely a hesitation. He then proceeded to ski from the 20m half bar by the end of that practice and a week later, he was able to ski from the top of the 20m. I am amazed at what he has been able to accomplish! 

The benefits of this sport go beyond athletic ability and skill gained from practices and tournaments. It teaches responsibility as the kids help take care of the equipment and the hills. They learn how to support each other on and off the hills. They are surrounded by positive role models as they watch and interact with the "big" kids that jump the 40m and 70m hills. And it makes them part of something bigger as they carry on the tradition of ski jumping in Coleraine. 

 As I see him developing into a responsible, mature, happy young man, I am, and will be, forever grateful, not only to his current coaches, Sue Kavanagh and Doug Maki, but to all that have kept the sport alive in Coleraine, MN, for the last 110 years. From Ole Mangseth and John Greenway to present day Shrock's, Denney's and Rick Anderson along with many others, a lot of dedicated parents and volunteers, including those of you at Central and USA Ski Jumping, that put their time, energy and efforts into providing this amazing sport for my children as well as many others'. I sincerely appreciate everything you do. Thank you!

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