Of all the athletic programs produced by the USSA, one of my favorites is our annual Rookie Camp. Last week you could see the dreams in the eyes of the 42 first-time national team members – plus nine freeskiers a week earlier – as they had their first introduction to the USSA Center of Excellence and their future as team members.
They traveled to Park City out of USSA clubs and ski or snowboard areas from around the country. As athletes, they had already achieved a much sought-after position on a national team. Now it was time to set their sights higher.
Classroom sessions taught them details on the organization and athlete services from anti-doping to our Westminster College relationship and other educational programs, which were of great interest. They learned about the USSA's best in the world vision, as well as how to manage their future success with the media. Kipp Nelson highlighted the role of a trustee and how to capture the opportunities being provided to them. He expressed the value of embracing Europe, since so much of their time will be spent there. On the ropes course and soccer field, they bonded with new friends from other sports – alpine, nordic, freestyle and snowboarding. Amidst it all was a youthful exuberance and a quest for success. They soaked in every morsel of information.
Rookie Camp began in 2007 as a means of educating new national team athletes about the opportunities they had through the USSA as well as their responsibilities as role models and representatives of the team. This year's class was significantly larger – over double that of last year - and each of them brought in a high level of enthusiasm.
Similarly, 17 parents came for their own independent briefing. The pride was evident in their eyes as they learned about the opportunities their sons and daughters have as one of America's best skiers or snowboarders.
These athletes are the best in America – soon to be challenging the world. In speaking to them at the opening-night dinner, longtime trustee Bill Shiebler said it best: "Somewhere in this room tonight are future Olympic medalists."
Every one of these athletes showed a strong desire to engage fully in our programs. They want to spend the time training. They want to be a part of the team; and they want to be best in the world.
No one knows where each of these 42 careers will lead. Each athlete has the opportunity to be the best in the world; and if their enthusiasm and dedication is any indicator, the future is very bright. We can all be very proud of this class of rookies who are well prepared to take on the world.
Bill Marolt President and CEO U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association