Whitman welcomes the snow with SSRA courses next semester


Illustration by Elena Kaminskaia

Tate Cadang, Sports Reporter

For six weeks each spring semester, a Whitman Sports Studies, Recreation and Athletics (SSRA) course holds their classes in Dayton, Washington, at Ski Bluewood.

The beginning, intermediate and advanced ski and snowboard courses gather at noon on six Fridays out of the semester, boarding charter buses to make the one-hour bus ride up to the Bluewood ski resort.

The director of the course, Lish Riley, explains the ways in which the ski and snowboard courses bring diversity to the Whitman SSRAs by being some of the only courses that take students away from an academic setting.

“This class is unique in that you get to get off-campus and you get to do something in nature — in the winter, specifically — which there aren’t very many opportunities in the SSRA offerings that do that,” Riley said.

Lish explains that during a typical day of the course, students have a lesson from 2-3 p.m. with an instructor from Bluewood. During the lesson, students learn specific ski and snowboard skills, then they have free ski or snowboard time for the last hour. Students board the bus to campus at 4 p.m when Bluewood closes.

The skiing and snowboarding courses are open to any and all students who want to learn or get involved with the outdoors. Since these particular courses are offered as SSRA courses, this six-week activity also counts as one credit towards a student’s graduation requirement.  Each course costs $360 and covers the transportation to and from Bluewood, lift tickets and lessons with an instructor.

The fee, however, does not include rental tickets for the students who do not have their own gear. Students may either rent gear from the Outdoor Program (OP) located in Reid basement or buy their own rental ticket from Bluewood and rent gear from there.

Kim Clark, the manager of Ski Bluewood, commented on the pricing for Whitman students.  

“We have a special six-week rental program just for Whitman students for the students who need rentals that don’t have their own gear and that’s a discounted program,” Clark said. 

Riley adds that joining the course is generally cheaper than traveling without the course and incentivizes students to sign up.  

The skiing and snowboarding courses also connect students with others on campus and helps create new relationships through an off-campus experience.  

Trent Foky, a senior at Whitman, speaks about how his participation in beginning snowboarding and intermediate skiing courses has positively affected his time at Whitman.

“These courses serve as good break from traditional Whitman coursework in that they offer a laid-back atmosphere focused on the outdoors,” Foky said.

Junior Maamoon Selah also speaks about his experience in the beginning skiing course he participated in last spring. 

“It wasn’t just the ability to ski, but the connections I made on the bus, and the experience to interact with another aspect of the campus that I’ve never really engaged with,” Selah said.

Selah also praises the instructors at Ski Bluewood and the attention he received in his training.

“The course felt very personal and hands-on. While I would love to say that I was able to keep up with the class, it was pretty obvious that I needed some personal attention. So, the next following week, one other student and I had another instructor work with us,” Selah said.

The skiing and snowboarding course times may seem daunting for a full-time student’s schedule. However, with the course times starting at noon and ending by 6 in the evening when they arrive back on campus, Selah found the commitment manageable.  

I became pretty tight with those on the bus, so it never feels like the social fabric disappeared. However, there were definitely moments where it made my schedule with classes a little tight. This was something that I was able to adjust to by my second week by planning my study schedule ahead of time,” Selah said.

These courses are a means to experience Whitman in a different way while also getting involved with the great outdoors.

All levels of experience are welcome.  

These courses also provide a great way to socialize and meet new people with similar interests. I highly recommend this course to any student who is an avid snowsport athlete as well as to students who have never tried snowboarding or skiing before,” Foky said.

“It always felt like something I looked forward to every Friday evening,” Selah added.

For those still interested in joining, the beginning and intermediate skiing and snowboarding and advanced snowboarding courses are still open for registration.