POTM NOVEMBER: SPENCER RAYMOND
21|22 November Pro of the Month : Spencer Raymond
Our Pro of the Month column celebrates the remarkable individuals within The Pro Collective. Enjoy inspirational stories shared by your fellow mountain professionals and see how Faction Skis allow them to thrive on the front lines. To be featured as a Pro of the Month, fill out the form linked here.
Our November Pro of the Month is Spencer Raymond, Head coach for the Lake Oswego High School ski team, riding at his home mountain of Mt Hood, Oregon, USA. Spencer discusses his passion for the industry and how he believes skiing is the perfect sport to get high school students out on the mountain and gain confidence in themselves.
WHAT'S YOUR JOB ON THE MOUNTAIN? AND WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ENTAIL?
Head Coach - Lake Oswego High School Ski Team.
Most of our skiers have never raced before, and it's super fun to introduce them to the sport. It totally changes the mountain for them and gives them a whole new challenge. We teach racing basics and skiing fundamentals, and help young skiiers develop a love for the sport. High school racing is great because it mixes new racers with kids who grew up club racing. They learn from each other. The racing environment is inviting, it’s very competitive for the top-level kids, while still approachable for new racers.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THIS PROFESSION?
After racing for Syracuse University, I returned to my hometown and ran into my high school’s athletic director. There was an assistant coach position on the ski team open so I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve now been head coach for eight years.
WHAT ARE THE ASPECTS OF YOUR JOB THAT MAKE YOU FEEL PROUD TO WORK IN THIS ROLE, AND IN THIS INDUSTRY?
Creating opportunities for youth athletes to have fun outdoors and compete in racing is what drives me. There are a ton of things high schoolers could spend their weekends doing, and I think skiing is the best option!
There's something special about seeing a kid gain confidence when it suddenly "clicks" for them in a course. And the same goes for when we are all standing on top of a cliff freeskiing and they take the leap! Their excitement as they land and ski out (or tumble in the powder!) is what keeps me coming back. This sport is unlike any other in its ability to build confidence while having a total blast.
We are really lucky to have a school and a school district that supports ski racing. This sport is certainly not cheap, and to have financial backing from the school is a complete game changer. It reduces the cost athletes, and their families, have to pay to get out on the hill. We get transportation provided too, which is huge. I am very grateful for the support from the school and district.
The community around racing is great. There are tons of coaches at other high schools in Oregon and at clubs on Mt. Hood who all share the same passion for racing and for getting kids on snow. We are all in it together, and we coach a lot of the same athletes. The community on Mt. Hood and in Government Camp is pretty tight-knit, and we all help each other out and share best practices for coaching and for race operations.
I'm also really fortunate to have the support of Shred and Trew. Their gear is great, and they do their best to hook up athletes when they can too. Most importantly, my awesome wife supports my passion for skiing, and I wouldn't be on the mountain so much if it wasn't for her!
During one early-season training day, we broke into groups for some freeskiing. My group had a few decent skiers who I could tell had some big potential. I led them to a small drop, maybe three or four feet, but to them it was the biggest "cliff" they'd ever skied. "This isn't racing!" one yelled. "Yeah, but it will make you a better racer!" I replied.
I sent an older kid off the drop first to set the line and show the takeoff spot. The rest of the group wasn't so eager. After some encouragement, everyone eventually sent it! The last girl, who was most hesitant, finally took the drop. She landed perfectly and threw her hands into the air yelling "I'm the king of the world!". What other sport can do that for a kid?!
I love the CT 2.0. They are stiff enough that I can totally rip arcs on groomers while still having enough play to blast through crud and hop off drops in the pow. My favorite pastime is near-country and in-bounds hot doggin'! Sometimes a group of coaching friends and I get together for photo sessions. We always find new pow stashes!
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR WORK DURING THE OFF-SEASON?
I work in marketing, and I'm really lucky to have an employer that lets me be flexible with my schedule so I can coach.
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