Powder to the people

Athletes push for school-backed competitive, leisurely skiing opportunities


Photo courtesy of Matthew Streicher ‘24

HEAD FOR THE CHILLS Matthew Streicher ‘24 competes in a downhill race for his club team XLR8. “XLR8 has created a plan that they have successfully implemented with three high school ski teams in the past,” said Streicher. “With the forming of the Greenhills Ski team, a deal could be signed with XLR8 that would entitle the Greenhills team to gates, coaches, and most importantly, a ski hill. Once we are on our feet and can get our own coaches, then we move away from XLR8.”

Nicholas Alumkal '23, Sports Staff

As the 2022-23 winter sports season wraps up, Matthew Streicher ’24 and Dom Schuster ’24 already have their focus on next year’s winter athletics. More specifically, on a sport that is growing in interest among the student body but currently not offered by Greenhills: Skiing.

“You would not expect to see a skiing interest, but many people in our grade ski in some capacity,” said Streicher ‘23, who currently skis for a club team. “There is a ton of interest in it [skiing]. There are already high school teams outside of Ann Arbor. Schools like Novi, Plymouth-Canton schools, and Brighton have a team.”

Streicher and Schuster are leading the effort to add a ski team, hoping to get a team place by next year, which would coincide with their final year at Greenhills.

“It is an awesome thing too: be able to take a few days off school and get to go up north, wake up early in the morning, hang out with friends, go out to ski hill, and just race for eight hours,” said Streicher. “It may sound miserable if you are not into skiing, but once you are up on the hill and getting ready to go, it is an unreal feeling.”

The process of adding a sports team is not a simple one. There are competitive and financial commitments the athletic department must consider.

“In terms of adding sport it is the transportation, the uniforms, the equipment, the venue, the coaches and the officials that need to be addressed,” said Athletic Director Meg Seng. “You are talking about thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to add any one sport. Ski actually has a really small roster, and if it is self-funded, it would be easier to add [than other potential sports]. There are certain races that the MHSAA sponsors for [skiing] state championships.”

What is different about skiing compared to other sports Greenhills offers—like basketball, soccer, or volleyball—is that skiing would be self-funded, much like the hockey team is. 

“We have looked into it,” said Seng. “We have looked at numbers. We do not have huge numbers. It would be self-funded, which is typically for skiing. They [the skiers] basically pay for themselves, but they have to pay for a coach, they have to pay for travel, they have to pay for equipment, and they have to pay for mountain time.

“I had a nice, long conversation with the director of skiing at the MHSAA last year when I was first investigating the idea,” Seng said. “He said most of the programs are usually well-resourced schools, meaning it is families that can afford to pay out of pocket for the ski experience for their sons and daughters.”

The numbers necessary to fill out a ski team is six boys and six girls, with a minimum amount of four per gender. According to Schuster and Streicher, they have garnered enough boys to fill a team, but still are looking for more girls to join.

“It is a very tough time because [the school is] switching athletic directors,” said Streicher. “Once we raise awareness of it [the ski club/team], then everybody is going to jump on. I think we will easily get the numbers needed.”

While Schuster and Streicher push to gain interest in skiing among the student body, the prospects of adding any new sports team, even a self-funded sport like skiing, are dim. Adding any new sport would have to come with the commitment that there will be enough athletes to sustain the sport over the course of many years, not just for a short period when there may be an uptick in interest.

“We have already set the budget for next year, so it did not include adding any sport—skiing, crew, boys volleyball, girls lacrosse,” said Seng. “So, those are all viable sports that people compete in. We would love to add sports, but we also know that we currently offer almost all the sports that are sanctioned by the MHSAA. And, we don’t fill those out in every case. Certainly, in the fall and the spring, we have a ton of roster spots open. We want to get ninth and tenth graders in the sports we already have before adding more.”

The compromise that seems to be in the offing is the inception of a skiing club. The club would allow interested students and teachers to go on ski outings a few times a year without the long-term commitment of creating a ski team. 

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a couple of skiing outings,” said Seng. “We would get a bus, rent the hill, and take a group. It is not competitive. It is literally a ski trip to Mount Brighton. In order for the athletic program to invest in a team, it would have to be all-in joining the MHSAA versus just recreational, because there are so many moving parts.”

Despite being disappointed by the prospects of adding a ski team being slim, Streicher and Schuster forge ahead with the creation of a club being a starting point. The ultimate goal remains to begin a team. To show his continued interest, Streicher wrote a report to present to the athletic department addressing the necessary factors that would allow them to start a team.

“The report included a potential connection between XLR8 [pronounced accelerate] alpine racing,” said Streicher. “XLR8 would offer a coach, it would let us get all the gates, would let us get time on the hill, and would allow us to compete in Division II.”

Streicher and Schuster will not give up their effort to establish a ski team, even if it occurs after they graduate and are not able to participate in the team.

“We will keep trying,” said Schuster. “We will keep pushing forward. If not for us, for the [next] generation.”