Drexel University Ski and Snowboard Team (DUST) is grabbing their gear off the shelves and maintaining a clear and confident mindset as they come closer to entering the upcoming competitive season. DUST is part of the Atlantic Highlands Conference (AHC) for the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) and competes against other universities within the conference. Competitions include men’s and women’s ski and snowboard racing as well as men’s and women’s ski and snowboard freestyle.
Jocelyn Conroe, fourth-year Psychology student at Drexel and President of the club, shares how she is cracking down on defining goals she is eager to achieve this season.
“I would say definitely [getting] to regionals. COVID affected us a lot last year with not being able to afford to go and paperwork. So, I think that a big goal for us is to have our paperwork processed and also support our members in completing their goals of making regionals,” Conroe stated.
Due to the pandemic and dangerous weather conditions, DUST was only able to compete in two out of the five competitions in their conference last year. The team is excited and determined to compete this year, coming back with determination and drive. Conroe shared how they have been practicing in the off-season.
“I think a big thing we can do is go to Big Snow in New York. It’s at the American [Dream] Mall and it’s really great,” Conroe said. “It can be hard for us to get there because it’s a drive and it costs money but I think it’s a really fun thing for us to do because it’s a great place for freestyle and we have a lot of people on freestyle for our team.”
Conroe also shared how she and other teammates have been getting ready for the season on the dryland.
“So we do that, and then also we just… We all try to stay in shape, you know we all work out, do things that help us just be ready for the season. I know that Zoha and I are going to be doing a whole leg workout so that’s going to be our thing for ramping up for the season so we’re not dying this year,” Conroe explained.
The president of the club described what her responsibilities look like being in an administrative role, but also acting as the team’s biggest motivator.
“There’s a lot. I think that the main one is to have your head on your shoulders and have everyone else be the same way because a lot of it is just management and I think that goes for all organizations; we have meetings with Drexel all the time,” Conroe mentioned. “But it’s mostly just tracking paperwork and making sure that’s complete and then also just making sure that the team is really bonding together and getting to know each other and that it is that team environment first and not a paperwork processing role.”
This is Conroe’s third year on the team as a ski racer and freestyler, so she is familiar with the past culture of the team. She works with the executive board and the coaches to continually facilitate an innovative leadership team that supports the members in every way possible.
During the winter term for Drexel, DUST will be competing against other universities in the AHC, which includes University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Rutgers University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Fairfield University and others. Annually, East Coast slopes, including Blue Mountain, Hunter Mountain, Camelback, Belleayre and Mountain Creek, reserve trails to conduct collegiate competitions.
Zoha Ahmad, first-year Drexel graduate student in Business Administration and the team’s snowboard race captain, shared what her mindset was like when she won first place overall in Women’s Snowboard Racing at Camelback last year.
“I’ve learned that sometimes it’s not about going fast, because there were so many instances where people would just fall and miss their gate and then would be disqualified…” Ahmad said. “I guess I learned that sometimes going steady and slow wins the race but also now that I have won, I want to do it again and if anything, it’s made me more competitive.”
But, it wasn’t all about the technique. Ahmad explains that the environment surrounding her also contributed to her success.
“We did have a really good group of people who were on the mountain with us waiting and cheering for us as the snowboarders raced and that to me just made me feel way more excited and way more motivated to do well. I’d want that for other people, too,” Ahmad stated.
Ahmad has been a DUST snowboard racer for three seasons and understands the mindset and attitude a competitor needs to have while out on the slopes.
“I mean if you don’t have the right attitude or if you’re not excited or motivated then yeah, obviously you’re not going to want to take first place. That was a goal that was recently established for me,” the snowboard race captain stated.
Ahmad also talked about the conditions of racing on the East Coast where slopes are often icy and vicious.
“If you’re too timid, then you might go too slow, catch an edge, fall over,” Ahmad said. “But if you’re over-confident about yourself, then you might go too fast, hit a patch of ice, and slide right off…”
Both Conroe and Ahmad have high expectations for all of the coaches’ presence this year as they plan to attend all five competitions. The president and race captain have to guide their team’s energy toward being optimistic and confident. The coaches also play a big role in being a foundation and providing mentorship for the rest of the team.
“I think our expectations for the coaches this year is to really just support each member…all of our coaches are alumni, so they have that experience of being on the team and have competed,” Conroe said. “I know that our one [coach], Tim Averianov, who is actually a graduate student here, he was actually on the e-board, so it’s one of those things where he can also be a mentor for us on the e-board this year, but also for those thinking about it next year which is a really amazing thing.”
All of the coaches have experience with racing or freestyling and can encourage first-time competitors to seek training, practice and guidance.
Ahmad shared her expectations for what the coaches can help provide for the team this year.
“I want [our] coaches to make sure that people who have never raced before and who are new to our team feel comfortable…I’d want them to also be there to maybe help teach other people how to properly carve around gates, know where to carve, and the proper procedure of what it means to like board GS— that’s what I want. And I want them to facilitate an exciting environment for people who want to have their races be completed in a really fun way,” Ahmad mentioned.
With the fall term coming to an end and winter break around the corner, the team is excited to keep their high energy and drive throughout the winter break. Undoubtedly, they will be using that time to move from indoor to outdoor slope and practice before their first competition during the winter term on Jan. 14 in New Jersey’s Mountain Creek slope against the rest of the AHC. The executive board and coaches’ efforts to cultivate this mindset create the belief for not only the team, but also their supporters, that there will be a success this upcoming season. To follow the team’s journey this season, follow them on Instagram @drexelskiteam.