As someone with several jobs who also recently stepped up to the professional ranks of triathlon, I’m often asked why, after four years, I continue to coach the Nordic team at North Tahoe High School. It’s no secret that coaching is not the most financially lucrative job out there, and it certainly takes considerable time and energy that could otherwise go into my own athletic pursuits.

But the rewards of coaching are unique and extensive, and there are so many reasons why I coach, and why I absolutely love it.

I coach because it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on snow. From adventure skiing in the woods to sparkly tights, to dance-offs at pasta feeds to singing at the top of our lungs in the car, my skiers are full of so much positive energy and enthusiasm for skiing and for life. Their spirit is infectious.

I coach because the NTHS Nordic Team is truly something special. These 26 kids are each amazing in their own right, but there’s nothing quite like seeing the way they come together as one team. The camaraderie, support, and sportsmanship they share are evident through all they do. I’ve watched them learn how to work hard, to dream, to believe, to push, to win, to lose, and most of all, to be teammates. And I have watched them blossom into not just great athletes, but incredible people.

I coach because these kids remind me what skiing is really all about. They understand that what is truly important is not the order in which they cross the finish, but everything that went into getting there and the memories they created along the way.

I coach because there’s nothing quite like seeing someone else’s dream come true, and knowing you helped make it happen. At times I feel even more invested in my athletes’ successes than my own, having witnessed everything they went through on their journey there. To watch these athletes break down barriers, believe in themselves, discover their potential, and push to reach their goals makes me proud.

I coach because I know just how important of a job it really is. Because I know I am helping to give these athletes a gift that will last a lifetime. As a former high school skier, I know firsthand just how much the lessons they learn from this sport will help them through all aspects of life. I know how long they will carry these memories with them. And I know how much the lifelong friendships they develop on this team will come to mean to them in the future.

And I coach because, while I’m a teacher in that role, these kids teach me too, and they push me to be better. They remind me of the importance of being a leader and setting a good example. I can never give up because I expect them not to. I cannot give less than 100 percent because I ask them to do the same. As coaches, our aim is to inspire the kids we work with to become the best version of themselves. But what I never expected was just how much this group of kids would actually inspire me.

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