Saint Mary’s SnowBelles promote skiing, snowboarding
Martha Reilly | Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Although some students keep warm with hot chocolate and blankets, Saint Mary’s new SnowBelles club embraces the Midwestern cold as its 24 members ski and snowboard every Friday at Swiss Valley Ski Resort in Jones, Michigan.
Junior Lissa Stachnik founded SnowBelles this semester as a way to stay active during the winter months while bonding with friends.
“After a week of classes, I needed something fun and exciting to start off the weekend,” Stachnik said. “Also, I figured if I’d be making the forty minute drive to Swiss Valley, why not see if other girls were interested?”
Stachnik grew up near a ski resort in northern Michigan, and she uses her past experience to assist the other club members.
“We do not have an official coach, but I am the president and am there to help anyone who needs it,” Stachnik said. “Swiss also has many resources, including lessons and instructors, that are available to SnowBelles. As a member of the club, you receive seven ski passes and two free lessons with rental equipment included if needed.”
The club is open to any Belle who wishes to join, regardless of skill level.
“SnowBelles is perfect for anyone who’s interested in making the polar vortex months a lot more enjoyable,” Stachnik said. “Who wants to ride a chairlift alone?”
Sophomore Maggie Williams said this club grants her the opportunity to practice at a non-competitive level.
“It’s actually the perfect amount of time commitment if you want to be with a group to ski or snowboard,” Williams said. “The leaving times are pretty flexible on Friday, and we usually spend only three or four hours at Swiss Valley. It’s not really an overbearing amount of time at all.”
With no winners or losers in SnowBelles, the girls band together to cheer on one another as everyone tries her best to improve, according to Williams. She said the other club members act as a support system and urge her to take risks.
“My friends have encouraged me to try different terrains,” Williams said. “We usually end up laughing with each other when one of us has a pretty hard fall. We just all enjoy skiing or snowboarding, and we get to do it together.”
The community aspect of SnowBelles goes beyond the slopes, though, Stachnik said. She hopes to organize events such as fundraisers, movie nights and monthly dinners to encourage club bonding.
“In my opinion, the best part about SnowBelles is getting to know girls who share the same interests,” Stachnik said. “I’m a junior, but I wish I would’ve started this club earlier because I remember being a freshman and wanting to belong to something and to make friends. This is the perfect opportunity to do that.”
Williams, too, considers this club to be the perfect balance of socializing and exercising.
“I’m definitely not the most competitive snowboarder, but I do enjoy being out on the slopes with my friends,” Williams said. “Snowbelles is a great way both to recuperate from a busy week and to have fun, even if the conditions aren’t always the best. So far, there have definitely been a lot of laughs and maybe a fall or two, but they were worth it.”