NENSA is pleased to announce Ford Sayre as the 2022 NENSA Club of the Year. Like NENSA, the driving force of their mission statement involves, “a life-long passion for skiing.” Their cross country ski program is one of the most developed in New England – with options for Bill Koch, highly competitive juniors, and a Nordic Club for High School and adult skiers. For many decades you would be hard pressed to attend a major event in the East without seeing skiers donning the blue and green of the Ford Sayre uniform (although their newest suit is a sharp dual-tone blue).
During the 2021-2022 season Ford Sayre scored the fifth most points in the NENSA Club Cup with participants in 15 of the 27 events that were scored!
With just a quick look at Ford Sayre’s website you can feel the deep history and support of the organization. “Ford K. Sayre Memorial Ski Council serves skiers and children of the Upper Connecticut River Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont. The Council traces its beginnings to Ford and Peggy Sayre, skiing pioneers who began offering skiing lessons to children in 1936. Since that time, the program has expanded to serve over 500 children every year, of all abilities and interests.”
“The Council currently offers Alpine, Nordic, and Ski Jumping and Ski Mo instructional programs.”
Each program offers year round training and event calendars, robust volunteerism, accessible venues, awesome coaches and opportunities for scholarship.
Hilary McNamee started working with Ford Sayre in 2011 and became the Head Nordic Coach in 2019.
“What’s most amazing to me is that it’s largely a volunteer-supported organization: There are only 2 full time employees and more than 130 parent and community volunteers supporting practices, staffing the board and running community events on and off the snow for our 350+ skiers. And that’s just our Nordic program — our Alpine, Jumping and SkiMo branches are thriving too!
Since we are on the border, we serve both New Hampshire and Vermont skiers. Which is neat for our Junior coaches who get exposure to both ski scenes. That being said, the early days of the pandemic were really challenging for us because our VT skiers couldn’t come to Oak Hill due to travel restrictions. But our community was committed to finding a way to unite — so, up to the hills of Norwich we went and we had a BALL!
That’s also the season we saw a huge jump in our numbers — this past season we had a 100 skier increase in K-8th over pre-pandemic. And I chalk that up to the commitment and passion of the community of volunteers: Families who joined because indoor activities were limited felt so welcomed that now they’re hooked! If you’re ever in Hanover on a winter Monday, it’s pretty magical to see 120 K-2nd graders flying around on Garipay Field!
Our Junior racing program places equal emphasis on personal and athletic development. It’s a lot of extra work, but we’re committed to traveling, lodging and cooking as a team at Eastern Cup weekends. It’s a great environment for team bonding and personal development — learning to cook, sharing pre-race jitters and post-race war stories, and all the subtleties of group-living. Traveling together also helps keep races accessible to skiers whose families can’t take them to every race weekend. It’s all so good and so special for kids to have this kind of experience with a group of similarly driven peers, independent of their parents.”
Lou Bregou, Ford Sayre Council Chair
“Ford Sayre is honored to be named the 2022 NENSA Club of the Year. We have an 85 year tradition of building ski communities and instruction on snow that is only possible due to our awesome coaches and hundreds of volunteers. NENSA is a wonderful partner that helps us achieve our mission to share the joy of nordic skiing at all ages and levels in our community.”
Jay Davis, BKL Head Coach
“I have coached K-12 Ford Sayre skiers over the last 24 years, and have been a close observer of the wonderful growth of both Ford Sayre and NENSA. There is such a special commitment of NE clubs to developing a love of skiing in skiers of all ages.”
Tricia Groff, K-2nd Head Coach
“The Ford Sayre program is an integral piece of the Upper Valley lifestyle and I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it. The entire community comes together to bring magic to this program and it transforms winter into the most wonderful season of the year for many area children.”