Another View: What are youth sports worth?

By: Janis Serrano, guest columnist
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After 17 years coaching the Bear River Ski and Snowboard teams, it was not an easy decision to retire. When I notified the school, I assured Mr. (Duwaine) Ganskie that I had coaches waiting in the wings. It is very sad they are canceling the teams. There are so many pluses to our sport that get overlooked by the larger sports. On our teams, freshman through senior athletes all work together, they build a camaraderie with each other that breaks down the barriers of class rank and social cliques. They truly become friends with the athletes from the schools we compete with. Many of our athletes have gone to our competitors’ proms, dances, etc., and vice versa. What other sport at Bear River can say the same? Yes, we have gone from teams of 50 to 60 athletes to current teams of 10 to 20. In these economic times, that is not a surprise. But that is not to say that it will not turn around. In my opinion, I feel that through the years athletes have been guided to “specialize” in one sport rather than get a taste of several sports. Athletes nowadays are expected to be in club or rec sports in their off season, leaving them no time to experience other sports. That is unfortunate in my mind. So what is the worth of a student athlete? Just because a team is smaller it is no longer valuable? I can tell you that over the years I have had student after student come to me with their stories. An A-student only deciding not to drop out because he wanted to snowboard, a student transferring to Bear River just because they wanted to ski, an athlete thanking me for having to be so disciplined with her schedule to stay on top of her season and academics. I could go on and on. We have had several foreign exchange students join our program who had a wonderful experience that they would not have received from a different sport. The ski and snowboard teams fit a niche in the schools that keep students involved and engaged. Does that have a price? I have absolutely loved working with all of the athletes through the years. I wouldn’t trade a single minute of it. We have the best kids on our teams — hard working, academic, polite and pleasant, and just really fun to be around. I have also loved working with our division. We were in a division where all the coaches from all the schools had the best interest of every skier/rider in mind. I will truly miss working with these great kids. I have made lifelong friendships with many of them and cherish that greatly. I hope that Bear River will reconsider their decision to end this program that has been at the school since its inception. All athletes, of every kind, are worth it. Thank you to all my athletes, coaches, and parents for making these 17 years the best! I will miss you all. Janis Serrano is the retired coach of the Bear River Ski and Snowboard teams. She coached the programs for 17 years.