October 7, 2004




My name is Holly Brooks and I am VERY excited to be the head coach for the West High Cross Country Ski Team! I hear that snow is already falling in Alaska and I can't wait to get back on skis.


I suppose I should tell you a bit about myself: I am a Seattle, Washington Native (aka land of very few skiers), and am living here at the present moment. I spent the summer in the beautiful San Juan Islands working as the Assistant Director for the Teen Expedition Program at YMCA Camp Orkila on Orcas Island. As Jane reported in the last email, I am a recent graduate of Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. At Whitman I was a combined Environmental Studies/Sociology Major, I also received an Education Minor. I was on the ski team for four years and was captain of the varsity team from my sophomore year until I graduated.


Racing on the Western NCAA circuit took me all over the country, offering a myriad of experiences from flying to New Mexico for the weekend, to forerunning for the World Cups at Soldier Hollow, to racing in Senior Nationals in Rumford, Maine. While at Whitman I had three great coaches who Iíve learned a lot from. A few summers ago I was lucky enough to receive an offer to work for Eli Brown (my coach freshman year), who at the time was working for Maine Winter Sports Center. In Maine I was an assistant coach as well as the academic advisor for the Summer Stride Ahead Ski College, a program where high school age athletes trained, took college classes, and lived in college dorm rooms. It was my job to make sure they succeeded in both their training as well as their classes. I hope to do the same for all of you! In Maine I also had the pleasure of working and living with Pete Vordenburg, assistant coach of the US Ski Team.

We had a lot of fun that summer!


I am excited to hear that we may have up to 60 athletes coming out to participate in skiing this year! I realize that within that group, there will be a wide spread of athletes, all with different performance/participation interests. It is one of my goals to plan practices, organize events, and provide support and leadership to fit a wide range of students. If there are athletes who have focused goals for State, I want to help them be the fastest skier they can be.If someone is on the team because itís a good way to get exercise and have fun with their friends, that's great too!


In addition to coaching for West, I plan to work at AMH three days a week and supplement that with some substitute teaching. That way I can fully submerge myself in the ski world as well as (hopefully) have some contact with athletes in the building while seeing what I think of teaching.


I continue to be impressed by the size and organization of Alaska High School Skiing and can't wait to become a part of it. The parental support that Iíve received up to this point, even though Iím 2400 miles away has been amazing! I've got to say, itís one of the primary reasons I decided to accept this position. I look forward to working with all of you as we try to make West Skiing the best it can be.


A special note to the athletes: I am really stoked to meet you guys! For those of you who are interested in being competitive, I hope you've been staying active. If you haven't, the sooner you start, the faster you'll be by the first race. Even something as simple as going for runs and doing some general strength, i.e. push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, dips, etc., will help immensely! If you are ambitious, try to do some interval workouts before official practice starts. Try a simple ladder such as 2,3,4,3,2 either running or roller skiing. This means run for 2 minutes (use equal rest if you havenít been doing intervals), rest, run for three minutes, rest for three minutes, run for four, rest for four and so on. These should be done at a pace where you can sustain a decent speed for the entire length of the interval.They arenít easy but you shouldnít be trying to sprint either.Itís important to get your lungs working!Congratulations to those of you who have been working hard. Keep it up and be prepared to work harder when I arrive!


I will be departing for Alaska on the 16th of this month and driving up the Cassiar and Alcan highways. I expect this will take me 4-5 days as I am traveling alone. In between now and then I am flying to New York to visit my sister and brother who are freshman at St. Lawrence, as well as one of my old coaches.


Thanks for sticking with my long email and I look forward to meeting you all up North!



Holly Brooks