After navigating a mountain of obstacles, the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park will have an official MHSAA ski team for the first time beginning with the 2023-24 season.
Students from all three Park schools — Canton, Salem and Plymouth — will be eligible to join the team once the first official practice happens Nov. 13.
The newest P-CEP athletic team — which will compete as a club sport — had its first informational meeting Oct. 26.
“The turnout we had blew me away,” said Canton High School Athletic Director Kristen Farkas, who joined forces with longtime ski coach (and parent of two ski-loving children) Eric Shingles.
Interest is snowballing
“I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but the number of students who showed up for the meeting shows that there is definitely a demand for a ski team at the Park.”
The snowball got rolling on the plan to create a ski team this past spring when Shingles approached Farkas with his idea.
“When Eric first told me about his idea, I laughed and jokingly said, ‘Nope!’,” Farkas said, smiling. “I asked him, ‘Do you know how much work that will take?’
“But Eric had already contacted the MHSAA and found out what was required, so beginning in the summer we started all the paperwork and checked off one hurdle at a time.”
When the news spread throughout the P-CEP campus regarding the possibility of an official ski team, skiing-loving students’ endorphins kicked into overdrive.
“I was super-excited when I first heard about this,” said Canton student Mia Carney. “I’ve been skiing since I was little and I’ve been a member of ski clubs, but not an official school ski team like this. I can’t wait.”
Long time coming
Canton senior Claire Plum’s reaction mirrored Carney’s upon hearing the news.
“I’ve been skiing with Mia since we were little, so to be able to have the opportunity to ski together on a team our senior year of high school is very exciting,” Plum said. “I’ve never raced before, but I think it will be fun.”
Shingles, who will serve as the volunteer interim coach for the first season, and Farkas revealed the club is a work in progress leading up to the initial workout/practice on Nov. 13 (the actual season commences Dec. 13, Farkas confirmed).
Since it’s a club sport, the team will be fully funded by the participants and their parents, so the exact cost of joining the team is still unknown.
Most high school teams train twice a week, Shingles said, but the exact days P-CEP will train have yet to be determined.
“The MHSAA requires teams to have four official races scheduled before they are allowed to compete in the regional and state meets,” Shingles said.
“We have already locked in four races, so we’re good there.”
What the club hasn’t secured is a hill to train on.
Working on details
Farkas has met early resistance in her multiple attempts to schedule training and race dates at Mount Brighton, the closest skiing venue to Plymouth and Canton.
“I’ve made multiple calls (to Mount Brighton representatives) but haven’t been able to connect with the people who run the Mount Brighton league,” she said.
“We have some KLAA ski team coaches helping us, which is encouraging. We’ll keep trying until we get all of the T’s crossed and the i’s dotted.”
Shingles said a worst-case scenario would have the team compete in the four already-scheduled meets at Mount Holly, Alpine Valley and Pine Knob.
Team members will be required to supply their own equipment — skis, boots, helmets and poles, Shingles said.
“Our team members won’t be required to compete in racing skis, but it’s recommended,” he said.
The P-CEP team will have at least two experienced downhill racers — Shingles’ daughter Sophia and Rhiana Savoie, both of whom have competed across the country.
For more information, email Shingles at email@example.com.
While there are still details to be worked out, one thing is certain: P-CEP will field its first official ski team in 50 years.
Let it snow!
Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.