CANMORE – Jaiden Webster was inspired as a little girl during her first lessons on cross-country skis in the JackRabbit program by older teenager athletes sharing their knowledge and love of the sport.
Seth Hewie, also once a JackRabbit in the Canmore Nordic Ski Club (CNSC) in the child beginner introduction program into classic and skate skiing, recalls the older kids teaching the tyke the skills needed to grow in the winter sport.
“I felt that really brought me into the sport a bit more and kind of saw these skiers that I could be like one day and I wanted to give [that] back to the younger generation,” Hewie, 16, said.
The two teen athletes, along with a couple dozen teenage coaches-to-be just like them, have come full circle with the JackRabbit program, and will help train the next generation of Nordic skiers after completing the National Coaching Certification Program's (NCCP) Community Coaching Course on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 9-10) at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
The NCCP course, which includes online testing and part indoor and outdoor classroom, is designed to give future coaches the knowledge to teach children as young as four.
“I think this is a big responsibility to take on, kind of laying the foundation for all those young athletes,” Hewie said. “I definitely I want to dedicate that time to ensure they have a good positive first, or second skiing experience.”
It has given 17-year-old Webster, who’s been skiing for over a decade, a whole new admiration to coaching.
“It’s kind of funny to analyze your own technique,” Webster said. “As soon as I share or have to teach others, I have to totally reevaluate every single thing I’m doing and I’m vocalizing every small movement and also you totally gain a whole sense of respect for all the coaches for the time and effort they put in to our success.”
CNSC encouraged its junior racers to take part in the course and program director Alain Parent said there was an “amazing response” as many athletes were keen on the opportunity to give back to the sport.
“They’re great skiers to start with and great role models, and it seems the young ones will connect quite well with the teenagers,” Parent said.
“It’s quite interesting because we’re know as being a family sport and … it’s pretty cool to see teenagers embrace that way of life and willing to give back to the sport, so they’re totally into it and it’s quite neat to see they’re helping the next generation of kids.”
The teenage coaches will be on their skies and raring to go when the JackRabbit program starts up on Jan. 7 at the Nordic Centre.
"We can't wait to share our love of skiing with the next generation of the sport," Webster said.