Each year NENSA honors leaders in our community for their energy, efforts and community engagement. Please join us in celebrating Chris Doyle and The Friends of Leo J. Martin Skiing (FOLJMS) as the NENSA 2017 John Caldwell Award recipient! The John Caldwell Award is one of NENSA’s finest traditions. This award annually recognizes a single individual, or entity, which embodies the spirit, dedication, innovation, and pride in our Nordic community of the award’s famous namesake.
FOLJMS represents a wide range of cross-country skiers and winter enthusiasts who are working to ensure that the Leo J Martin Ski Track, in the metro Boston area, remains a vibrant home to cross-country skiing and other forms of winter recreation.
A little background on how FOLJMS, a nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve the coexistence of both ski and golf in one facility, was formed. In the fall of 2014, those associated with Nordic skiing in the Boston community got wind that the individuals who had run the Weston Ski Track (WST) at the Leo J. Martin Golf Course in Weston MA, for the past 40 years, were thinking of retiring. That, coupled with recent changes that had been made to the golf course, raised alarm. Orange fences suddenly marked off spaces formerly used for skiing. Mounds of dirt littered the normally smooth trails. Skiable terrain was cut by 30 percent in the previous season. In order to preserve cross-country skiing as they had known and loved at the WST, everyone involved in Nordic skiing in Boston knew action needed to be taken, and soon. Without the WST, cross-country skiing, and all the wonderful programs, teams and clubs in the Boston area could not exist.
At a CSU juniors Board meeting in October 2014, the issue of the dubious future of skiing at WST was introduced, and Chris Doyle, a CSU Board member at the time, and parent of three daughters – all skiers involved with the Eastern MA BKL and CSU juniors programs—raised her hand to spearhead what has become, Friends of Leo J. Martin Skiing (FOLJMS). Under the leadership of Chris Doyle, FOLJMS was formed, joined by leaders from the Eastern MA BKL, CSU & CSU juniors, Harvard, and local high school leagues. Together, these individuals have been a powerhouse in preserving, maintaining, and being the forward thinkers and planners of keeping the Leo J. Martin Ski Track thriving.
In July of 2015, to everyone’s great surprise, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) took over the operation of running both the golf course and the ski track, officially making it a dual-use facility. As the DCR embarked on improving the golfing facility, the Friends of Leo J Skiing committed to working with the DCR to continue to improve the winter facility so that it would retain its invaluable position in the Boston community and in the state as a premier Nordic skiing facility.
FOLJMS developed a master plan for skiing at Weston, which they submitted to the DCR in August 2015. They envisioned FOLJMS managing skiing there, and their plan detailed short- and long-term infrastructure improvements, including new ski trails, a roller ski loop and an expanded lodge. Although the DCR was impressed with the scope of the document, they decided to pursue their own course, running the ski track on their own.
Over the past two years, FOLJMS has worked with the DCR to ensure that skiing and golf can co-exist. FOLJMS and the DCR have worked together to discuss operations, and work on improvements to make the LJM ski track the best it can be, integrating many of the original short- and long-term infrastructure improvements presented to the DCR back in August of 2015. There have been extensive lighting upgrades made, new grooming and snowmaking equipment purchased, and last fall, a new 20-meter climb “Mount FOLJMS” created to make a hillier ski course on the 15k of groomed trails. Today, plans are in the works for a new pump house to improve and expand snowmaking capabilities.
Elizabeth Wilcox, (FOLJMS board member) has this to say of Chris Doyle. “The magic of Chris Doyle is that she gets so much done, working incredibly hard, without leaving a trace of her own individual efforts. She has been a relentless advocate for cross-country skiing in the Northeast through her dogged efforts to preserve and improve the Leo J Martin winter ski facility. Seldom does one see her own name attached to all the outreach she initiates and supports, whether through publicity in local and national media, advocating for skiing interests at town and government forums, or brokering agreements between governmental and non-governmental bodies. Commonwealth Magazine, Metrowest Daily, Fasterskier, the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, and Snocountry are among the many media outlets that have featured stories about the work FOLJMS, under Chris’s leadership, has initiated and supported on behalf of the Leo J Martin Ski Track. Chris is the impressive, eco-friendly engine beneath the hood that leaves not a trace while forging the path that we all follow.”
Andrew Hall, CSU Master skier and FOLJMS Board member concurs. “When the golf crew at the DCR took steps that seriously threatened to ruin skiing at Leo J. Martin, Chris Doyle came out swinging. She was instrumental in creating Friends of Leo J. Martin Skiing. She has very ably led the group in the three years of its existence. During that time, under her leadership, FOLJMS has seen the DCR make a real commitment to skiing at LJM, with very significant investments in snowmaking and grooming equipment. Chris has done all of this while raising three teenagers and working in a very demanding job. All of us in the Boston Skiing community owe Chris a great deal.”
It is this kind of incredible leadership that has made FOLJMS work so well, and get so much accomplished. Jim Stock, head coach of Eastern MA BKL, and FOLJMS Board member, says this of Chris. “In response to very real problems at our ski area stemming from changes in the state’s management approach towards the Leo J. Martin golf course, Chris Doyle stepped up to the plate to create FOLJMS. Under Chris’s leadership, FOLJMS became the umbrella organization that spoke for the many skiing user groups, including CSU, EMBK, and high schools. FOLJMS has developed a very effective working relationship with the state. The state has now adopted FOLJMS’ goals of strengthening the skiing facility, expanding the user base, and increasing the facility’s profile. By tapping volunteers and developing strong internal management, combined with a vision for better skiing at LJM, Chris has created this very strong organization that will continue to strengthen skiing at LJM over the coming years.”
Says Rob Bradlee, head coach of CSU juniors and FOLJMS Advisory Board member: “They say if you want something done, give it to a busy person. Despite a very full plate as a consultant and mother of three top ski racers, Chris stepped up to take on the challenging task of saving cross-country skiing in eastern Massachusetts. Make no mistake, without her hard work and leadership, skiing as a competitive sport would have died here. I feel like she literally saved my life!”
NENSA applauds Chris Doyle, and the entire FOLJMS Board, and Advisory Board, for all their efforts and work that has been done, and that is still being done, to keep Nordic skiing alive and thriving in the Boston area. We think it very fitting that FOLJMS be awarded the John Caldwell Award this year – Congratulations!
To learn more about FOLJMS and the work they are doing, go to: foljms.org