As the temperatures drop in late October, GMVS athletes are busily prepping skis, gathering school assignments and packing for the month ahead of training in Colorado and beyond. The flurry of activity is an annual occurrence as our student-athletes shift their focus from daily workouts in the weight room, quickness and agility drills on the upper field, and bounding up Bragg Hill, to prepping for the race season ahead. 

Concurrent to this shift inside and away from campus, the sideboards to the hockey rink are dusted off, hauled out of storage, placed on the lower field and constructed into an ice rink over a matter of days. When the weather is just right the local Waitsfield Fire Department fills the rink and then everyone patiently waits for the pool of water to freeze with hopes that it’ll be ready for skating when everyone returns from November camp.

While there were early efforts to construct an ice rink with and without sideboards, like when Willi Cannell ‘05, Vince Scalia ‘06, Drew Bonner ‘06, Charlie Powell ‘05, and David Iverson made a Zamboni out of 2x4s and pvc tubes in 2005, it wasn’t until the annual Gala in 2018 when families, alumni, and friends of GMVS raised their paddles in support of donating to enhance the student experience on campus. This fundraising effort was just the catalyst needed to invest in ice rink boards and commit to putting up the rink for the winter months year after year. 

Lit up at night and accessorized with a smattering of hockey sticks, skates, and helmets, the rink is a place for kids to go during the day, at night, and on the weekend, alone or with friends fired up for a friendly competition. Thanks to the leadership of GMVS U14 coach and hockey fanatic Adam Julius, once the rink goes up the entire community chips in to maintain the ice and ensure everyone has fun; helmets required!

Frequently found on the ice is GMVS student Callum Smith ‘24. According to him, “The ice rink is a place to go when you want to release some steam and it’s even a lot of fun when you are shoveling off the snow. It brings together the Alpine and Nordic athletes and gives us another activity to do.”

GMVS alumni are known to share their memories of the rink too, even from the days before the new rink boards. In the Spring 2021 Alumni Newsletter, Charlie Powell ’05 shared, “The hockey rink has always been a great spot for kids and staff to gather together. Even though it’s under a big clock in the Doug Parker Center, the rink is a place where time seems to shift after hours, and there are hours of skating until exhaustion. The collaborative work to install and maintain it during the winter will forever make it one of the magical features of our campus.”

Today kids and staff come together to play organized hockey tournaments, competitive games of broomball, slapping around a puck or two, and evening playing around with staff kids who are just learning to skate. It brings kids together, during some of the darkest and coldest months for some of the greatest highlights of the year.


Now known as one of the best junior programs in the country, GMVS took over operations of the weekend race program from Sugarbush in the late ’70s, not long after Sugarbush bought Glen Ellen (then, Sugarbush North). While certainly not the oldest club in the state, the GMVS Ski Club has a storied history and has seen plenty of success.

The weekend race program used the upper north end of the Mount Ellen base lodge as a home base and trained on the Inverness trail. Prior to that Sugarbush, Glen Ellen, and Mad River Glen all had their own junior race programs. The top racers from those programs throughout the entire Mad River Valley would come together for training as the Valley Junior Race Team, which later became Mad River Valley School (“Mad Acad”) and eventually Green Mountain Valley School.

The GMVS Ski Club operated out of the base lodge until the early-’90s when several club families and the school spearheaded an initiative to build its own facility at the base of the Inverness Trail at Mount Ellen, which was completed in 1993. Today, over 120 kids descend upon the Ski Club every winter weekend to participate in the Club program which provides junior racers an opportunity to realize their potential while learning the fundamentals of an exciting sport they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.


GMVS has a long history of alumni racing at the highest levels, with familiar household names such as Doug Lewis ’82, AJ Kitt ’86 and Daron Rahlves ’91.

This year, we’re thrilled to cheer for these GMVS athletes at World Cup races:

  • Ali Nullmeyer ’16 (Canadian National Team) *SL photo above
  • Ben Ritchie ’19 (U.S. Ski Team) *top SL photo to left
  • AJ Ginnis ’11 (GRE Ski) *bottom SL photo to left
  • Charlie Raposo ’14 (GB Alpine) *GS photo to left

In addition to the four athletes above, Brian McLaughin ’12 with Team Global Racing and Jimmy Krupka ’16 who trains and competes with the U.S. Ski Team’s NorAm Team, have eyes on earning a World Cup start this season.

While you’re in the crowd at this year’s races, grab a bell and make some noise to support these athletes who have dedicated themselves to ski racing and continue to make us proud.


The G7 Program is specifically designed for alpine and Nordic racers who are eager to experience ski academy life. The program started in the fall of 2005 under the leadership of Megan Travis (then GMVS Ski Club Assistant Director / now mom of Harper ’25) with the goal of helping bridge club-level athletes to the academy on a part-time/ trial basis.

Since the beginning, G7 students have immersed themselves in the life of the school from the start of the ski season in early November, through the end of the racing season in March. The first “7th Grade Program” participants were all alpine skiers and came to us through their affiliation with the GMVS Ski Club or its counterpart at Mad River Glen. From its inception, the G7 program allowed students to explore life at GMVS during the winter term, while still living at home, and then return to their local schools in the spring.

Initially, the program was limited to ten students and the original curriculum consisted of math, science, English, Vermont history, and languages, and mirrored daily life at GMVS with on-snow training in the morning and afternoon classes. Because the groups were small, early cohorts of G7 students were immersed in hands-on learning and visited sites like the Vermont state capital and the Vermont Ski History Museum in Stowe. A stop at Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream was part of these early academic expeditions. The winter term was capped off by a reception for families and the showcasing of each student’s portfolio of coursework. These portfolios were then shared with each of the student’s sending school teachers to assure them that the time away was well spent!

As the program grew, most students continued to be locally based. Through its strong relationship with the local Harwood Union Unified School District, students would leave their public school curriculum, and GMVS teachers would work closely to complement and cover much of the same curriculum that was ongoing at Harwood and/or Crossett Brook Middle Schools during the same time period. Classes were taught by our dedicated G7 staff, and students would learn the art of balancing their academic course load with the demands of intensive ski training.

Today, under the leadership of Grif Edwards,  the program continues to attract local student-athletes as well as those from further afield who are looking to experience a taste of academy life. The G7s are fully immersed in the GMVS community, including working directly with older students who act as peer tutors or mentors during student life programming. The curriculum is now different in all subjects and includes a 6-8 week STEM course taught by Eddie Merma of Sculpture School.  The G7 program now culminates with a community-based STEM project and a GMVS version of TED Talks which keep students focused on an end goal outside of qualifying for championship ski events in March.


Did you know that GMVS has been running an annual theater production since 1978?

It was in 1978 when the school moved to its current location on Bragg Hill and GMVS students prepared for their roles in Godspell, the first of a series of annual musicals to be directed by Headmaster Dave Gavett. At the time they probably didn’t realize they were paving the way for one of the school’s most cherished and long-standing traditions. Dave’s vision to create the theater program was met with the full support of GMVS founder Al Hobart and has been an integral part of the GMVS experience ever since his arrival.

The first production of Godspell was performed in the Dining Hall. Following performances moved off campus to larger locations in town. Odd Fellows Hall was home to Man of La Mancha, Pippin, Grease, King of Hearts, and Godspell, and in 1984 the production of Cabaret was performed at Edison’s Studio.

In 1985 the cast and crew moved the production back on campus to the Doug Parker Center (DPC) and has been performing there ever since. At the time the DPC was the school’s gym for athlete workouts and training, but in the week leading up to the opening night, the interior was transformed into a theater – large rolls of flooring were laid, the stage was built from the ground up, and folding chairs were lined up for audience seating. Just as quickly as the theater was built each year, when the show was over the auditorium was dismantled and returned to its original state.

In 2014 when the Racing Performance Center (RPC) was constructed, the DPC was transformed into a permanent theater, complete with stadium seating and a stage that remains up throughout the year.

Productions through the years:

1978 -Godspell

1979 – Man of LaMancha

1980 -Pippin

1981 -Grease

1982 -King of Hearts

1983 -Godspell

1984 – Caberet

1985 – Oliver

1986 – Camelot

1987 – L’il Abner

1988 – Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

1989 – Leader of the Pack

1990 – Godspell

1991 – Annie

1992 – Oklahoma

1993 -Man of LaMancha

1994 – Anything Goes

1995 – Guys and Dolls

1996 – Sweet Charity

1997 – 42nd Street

1998 – Little Shop of Horrors

1999 – The King of Hearts

2000 – The WIZ

2001 – Fiddler on the Roof

2002 – Les Miserables

2003 – City Of Angels

2004 – Seussical The Musical

2005 – Beauty and the Beast

2006 – Urinetown

2007 – Little Women

2008 – Footloose

2009 – Grease

2010 – Anything Goes

2011 – Cats

2012 – Godspell

2013 – Shrek

2014 – Beauty and the Beast

2015 – Les Miserables

2016 – Legally Blonde

2017 – Chicago

2018 – Footloose

2019 – Grease

2020 – Godspell (Cancelled)

2021 – Mama Mia!

2022 – Newsies


If you ask any Vermont outdoor enthusiast they’re bound to agree that mountain biking is one of the most popular outdoor sports the state has to offer residents and visitors alike. The ever-expanding network of trails is suited for beginners who are just learning the sport, experts who are seeking the most technical routes and biggest drops, and riders of all levels in between. Trail maps are easily accessible, trails are generally well marked, and locally in the Mad River Valley, there is a wide selection of trails to choose from. This wasn’t always the case.

As we look back on the history of mountain biking at GMVS, the tales told of exploring Valley trails are reflective of how far the sport has come in a handful of years. In the early 1990s bike technology was far from what it is today and the selection of trails in the Valley was limited to three primary routes: Chain Gang just up the hill from the GMVS campus, Dana Hill / Cyclone behind American Flatbread, and Denny-Land in what is now the Wu Ledge Town Forest area. Even into the early 2000s mountain biking was an evolving sport. Alum Sandy Vietze ‘11 recounts his experience riding while at GMVS, “For better or worse, biking was pretty gnarly in the Valley and while a lot of kids were turned off, I found it was a great challenge.”

Sandy’s memory of ‘gnarly’ terrain is a common thread in the stories told by alumni who explored the trails in the early years of mountain biking at GMVS, as are the unexpected adventures and mishaps. GMVS alum Andrew McNealus ‘08 shared a vivid memory of riding when he was a GMVS athlete out with his coach, Adam Julius, “We were out for a ride and got lost, we were late for dinner, and it was getting dark when we finally popped out on this rock on the Mad River across from Lareau Park by Flatbread. The only way home, without turning around, was to cross the numbing river water flowing from the snow melting in the mountains.” The experience remains fresh for Andrew as he continues, “It was always an adventure with Adam leading. He always said that he knew the trail and then never really seemed to actually know the route.”

Since 1993, Adam Julius has been passionate about getting GMVS athletes on bikes and riding trails. “Today, the trails are exponentially better than the early days of riding and offer a greater variety to choose from, which gives GMVS coaches an opportunity to teach kids and build confidence on easier terrain before moving onto more technical trails,” notes Adam.

GMVS has inspired many athletes to try the sport, and in some cases even line up on the starting line at local races. Interest in racing ebbs and flows, but 2018 was a big year when 12 GMVS riders entered the A Vermont Youth Cycling Series at Cochran’s Ski Area and the team won first place in Division 2. The team was composed of the following student-athletes: Lydia Riddell, Trey Jones, Alejandro Miquel, Elena Gober, Ava Pavlik, Sebastian Segre, Tomas Barata, Gavin Dewey, Luke Keating, Dillon Rowles, Gavin Wirth, and Will Patton. (Results)

While ski racing is the primary focus at GMVS, mountain biking has been integral to training throughout recent years. A few were less enthused about the ‘gnarly’ terrain and haven’t returned to the sport, but for many, GMVS ignited a passion for mountain biking that has remained strong. Today, GMVS alumni are racing with college cycling teams, working for bike companies, and many are sharing their passion with friends and family as it becomes part of their lifestyle.

On Saturday June 5, Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS) wrapped up a successful school year, after operating in-person classes and athletics through a worldwide pandemic without missing a beat. A year ago, in the spring of 2020, GMVS shifted to remote operations amidst the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and at the same time school leaders were optimistically planning for a full re-opening in the falI. It was a moment in history when everything in the world that was once certain, became uncertain, yet GMVS persevered with positivity, and reimaged how to teach, coach, and support incoming student-athletes. Indoor spaces were transformed to accommodate physical distancing requirements; a large tent in the middle of campus served as an outdoor dining space, classroom, and place for students to convene; students and staff wore masks on the hill, in the classrooms, and everywhere in between; campus was closed to visitors, and weekly COVID-19 testing for all students and staff became the norm.

Maintaining the health and safety of the GMVS community and the greater Mad River Valley community were of utmost importance, and we are proud to share that we completed the year without disruption and no in-school transmission. The end of the year wrapped up with final exams, lacrosse practices, and a celebratory all-school dinner at American Flatbread.  As usual for a typical year, the week culminated with a commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 on Saturday, June 5th.

In keeping with GMVS tradition, the graduation ceremony focused on our graduates each of whom shared heartfelt thoughts and memories about their time at GMVS. The graduates’ short speeches were inspiring, touching, and included emotional tributes to their teachers, coaches, and fellow classmates. Although they were saying goodbye to this chapter, they are prepared for continuing to live the mission of GMVS which instills the development of a whole person with a life-long love of learning, sport and adventure.

The graduation ceremony also featured the awarding of the Governor Phil Hoff Vermont Honor Scholarship and the recognition of the school’s valedictorian. The Phil Hoff Vermont Honors Scholarship is awarded annually and goes to a Vermont resident who has participated in community service as well as other extracurricular activities and has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement. This year, the award went to Carly Elsinger of Richmond, VT.  The school also recognized a valedictorian for the highest GPA in the graduating class. Sebastian Segre of Falmouth, ME earned the school’s highest academic honors.

Most of the 31 graduates will continue on to various colleges and universities throughout the United States, Canada, and Spain. A handful will remain at GMVS to participate in post-graduate studies and continue to pursue their ski racing goals. Commencement is always bittersweet, and we are proud to send these focused young adults off into the world to do great things. As new alumni, they always have a home at GMVS. Congratulations to the GMVS Class of 2021!

GMVS is proud to share the exciting news that Conrad Sastre (’21) and Tomás Barata (’21), have been named by the Royal Spanish Winter Sports Federation to the Spanish National Alpine Ski Team. Recognized as two of the best Spanish alpine athletes in their age group world ranking, Conrad and Tomás will have the opportunity to represent their home country and continue to compete against top athletes from North America and Europe.
Hailing from the beautiful city of Barcelona overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, both Conrad and Tomás learned to ski just a few hours away in the Pyrenees Mountains. The athletes skied at different mountains, raced for independent teams, and met thousands of miles away in a small town in Vermont, where Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS) became a home away from home.
Conrad learned to ski with his dad when he was two years old in Andorra, a tiny, independent principality, known for its ski resorts, situated between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains. Before coming to GMVS, Conrad raced for GRANUEC, a ski club that trains in Pas de la Casa, Andorra. After his first day with the club he was hooked, fell in love with the sport, and knew from that day forward that he wanted to give ski racing his best.
Tomás also learned to ski when he was just three years old, and it was only a few years later at the age of six, that he began racing Ceva, a local race club. Surrounded by fast teammates at Ceva, Tomás was inspired to be like them and aim for the top. While Ceva provided a strong foundation, it wasn’t long before Tomas had developed into a young athlete looking for a place where he could further his racing career while balancing the rigors of high school academics. GMVS was home to other young Spanish racers looking to further their racing career, including his older sister Carla, and Tomás followed suit.
Tomas arrived at GMVS in 2017 as a 9th grader, and Conrad arrived in 2019 as an 11th grader. During their time at GMVS, these athletes have exemplified the grit and resilience it takes to pursue the highest level of ski racing while also engaging in high-level academics at Green Mountain Valley School.
Doug Williams, GMVS Men’s U19 coach notes, “The GMVS Coaches are very proud of both Tomás and Conrad being named to the Spanish Ski Team. This is a direct result of the hard work and dedication they put into on-snow training and physical conditioning during their time at GMVS. Congratulations to both of them and their families, we look forward to working with them and following their progress.”
Conrad and Tomás — congratulations on this hard-earned accomplishment. We are proud to call you Gumbies and look forward to cheering you on as you continue to follow your passion.

The letters GMVS and KBF have long been synonymous with one another, and on Saturday, September 12, 2020, it was no different.  

With brisk fall temperatures and clear blue skies above, the student-athletes of Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS) took to the roads and the mountains to raise money for the Kelly Brush Foundation (KBF). Kelly Brush, an alumna of GMVS, established the KBF in 2006 after suffering a spinal cord injury in a ski racing accident while a sophomore at Middlebury College. Rather than let the injury stop her, Kelly embraced her new reality, making profound impacts on both ski racing safety and adaptive sports, while inspiring many at every turn.  Today, Kelly and her husband are the President and Executive Director, respectively, of the Kelly Brush Foundation whose mission is “to inspire and empower people with spinal cord injuries to lead active and engaged lives.”  

Look no further than the hundreds of cyclists on the roads last Saturday. Clearly, KBF is inspiring and empowering those with and without spinal cord injuries, and Kelly’s inspiration is the driving force behind the thousands of dollars raised each year during the Kelly Brush Ride. This year, on the 15th anniversary of the ride, the goals remained the same, but the event took on a new look. With COVID-19 forcing changes in much of what we do, this year’s ride went virtual and the students, coaches, teachers and staff of GMVS embraced the opportunity and raised over $50,000 for the Kelly Brush Foundation.

Members of the GMVS community chose from a variety of group options including: 12 & 20-mile mountain bike rides in the Valley, a 36-mile road bike adventure to Montpelier and back, or a 100-mile loop. Other community members established their own routes and challenges, all with the same goal in mind: do hard things, raise money for ski racing safety, and help empower those with spinal cord injuries through adaptive sports.

As Alpine Director, Steve Utter, put it: “Our students were asked to challenge themselves outside their comfort zones and do hard things. The seniors led by example, with a few getting on a bike for the first time and choosing to ride 100 miles. Every ride had some element of challenge that provided an opportunity for each of our students to push their limits for a very good cause.”

With the whole community invested in the event, it was an impressive performance by the GMVS Community, and a surprise visit from Kelly at the start of the 36-mile ride added to the day’s excitement and energy. Nearly 4,500 miles were logged covering over 300,000 vertical feet by the community as a whole, with one student choosing to climb the Appalachian Gap, an additional 1,700 vertical feet after completing the century ride. Saturday truly embodied the best of Green Mountain Valley School with students challenging themselves to help others and pushing their limits even when no one was looking. That is the essence of what the GMVS and KBF relationship is all about. 

Members of the GMVS community are mourning the sudden and unexpected passing of Eric Keck in early July. Eric was a graduate of the Class of 1986 who went on to pursue his dream of racing at the highest levels, eventually landing a spot on the U.S. Ski Team, where he became an iconic member of the American Downhillers.
Eric has been described as “an awesome human”, “as kind and as friendly as they get”, and someone who could “brighten up the room just walking into it.” Since his passing, the memories have been pouring in. Here, we share with you a couple that exhibit the life and spirit of Eric as a member of the GMVS community:

In the words of Steve Utter, GMVS Alpine Program Director:

Eric was full of life — and bigger than life. He found joy, passion, and humor in everything he did. He spent his adult life serving others. He was a great husband, father and grandfather.

In the Words of a Classmate:

I haven’t seen Keck in prob over 20 years, but saw him on social media a ton and loved seeing his enthusiasm for his son’s football prowess—and also loved that he named his son “Thunder.” Just sums up Keck’s unabashed, show-the-world-that-you’re-here approach to life.

Keck was two years ahead of me at GMVS, a senior when I started as a sophomore in the fall of the ’85-86 year. Before I’d even met him, I saw this huge Hulk of a man strolling across campus and remember asking, “Is that one of our coaches?” No, that’s a student. His name’s Keck, someone said. I asked for his first name, but they said, “Don’t bother. Just call him Keck.” He truly towered above me, and I feared he’d be another cruel senior who liked beating up on underclassmen, but the first thing he said to me was, “Hey dude, nice Cinelli cap!” Holy ****. A senior complimented my cycling hat. He was as kind and friendly as they get, and I felt like maybe this school’s gonna work out just fine.

Once I ran into Keck in the gym, and as I was wrapping up a set of squats, Keck walks and said, “You all done with that?” I nodded yes, as Keck walked up to the rack. I was quite pleased with myself that the strong-as-an-ox Eric Keck would be squatting the same weight I was, even if just a warm-up set. But nope: he yanked it off the rack and started benching with it instead. Did maybe 25 in a row—with the same weight I’d barely been able to squat 12 reps with.

The next memory was in the winter. It was just another average day of slalom training, and I was maybe third or fourth down a freshly set course on Inverness. But as I got halfway through the course, there were already ruts, and at least half of the gates were broken. Not just knocked down, but plastic Breakaway gates snapped in half. It was like a team of Samurai swordsmen jumped out of the trees and completely decimated it. I asked my coaches at the bottom, “What the hell happened?” and they all said just one word in unison: “Keck.”

Sometime later that winter a tradition started at school: we had “Reuben Tuesdays.” The school chef would whip up a ton of incredibly tasty Reubens for our feasting after a tough morning of training, and we’d all compete to see how many we could eat. I could manage about 5 or 6, but Keck set the school record of I think 16. It must have been eight pounds of food. All wolfed down in a quick “feeding” before afternoon classes started. I often wonder what would happen if Keck had dared to take on a Hot Dog Eating World Championship run. 

And finally, my last memory was when I was a fresh recruit on the cycling team, and Keck was one of the ringers who would later go on to help GMVS secure the New England Prep School Championship. I was pretty light in 10th grade, so I could out-climb Keck pretty easily, but God help me if he was anywhere near me when we got to a sprint finish. I was comfortably ahead of him in a training ride, but as we sprinted for the line, somehow he roared past me, sounding like an 18-wheeler that sucked me up into its wind vortex, and I remember seeing something I’d never seen before: his entire bike frame was flexing side to side with each downstroke of the pedals. He had so much horsepower, the frame looked like it was about to snap. I didn’t even know that could happen to steel. But sure enough, even though he dusted me, he tossed out a “Good sprint, kid” to me as we both spun down cooling our legs. 

He was never the type to rub his success in your face. He needed you to feel good about the outcome, too; makes sense to me he became a teacher. And a father. And a policeman. And a minister. There was no glory in it if others couldn’t share in the fun, too. 

Miss ya, Keck. Look after us up there. 


In the Words of a Teammate:

The stories are many… I met Eric when I was 12. I had just moved from New Jersey to come race in Vermont. We were at a slalom at Cochran’s I believe. Flat, slow slalom. I came down, did decent for a Jersey boy. Then I keep watching up the hill at the other racers. This one kid comes down and completely and utterly destroys the course. A BAMBOO course. He was shinning bamboo gates at 12 years old! Bamboo was flying everywhere. Gatekeepers scrambling to fix all the splintered wood. It was chaos. I was completely speechless. No idea what that kid was. I turned to look at whoever was next to me, and it was obvious I was in awe of this creature. The person looked at me and laughed at my horror. Eric became one of my best friends soon thereafter.

Why I Love Eric: When we were on the U.S. Team, I took a massive crash at a downhill in Fernie, BC. I was knocked out cold. Woke up wrapped up in the fencing. There was the stretcher, coaches, patrol, etc. It’s amazing that I remember everything about that day now, but then, I couldn’t even remember what country we were in. Eric was right there next to me as they were strapping me in to take me to the hospital in the ambulance. “Hey Todd, you good?” “I think so,” “I responded: “You sure?” He asked. I kind of gave him a glazed look. He asked “What’s your wife’s name?” I couldn’t remember. “What are your kids names?” Still no memory of my kids. Eric looked at the paramedics and said: “You fellas better get him to the hospital quick.” The doors to the ambulance shut and the ride to the hospital was a haze. But I do remember the paramedics asking me about my wife and kids of whom I couldn’t remember. For those that know me, you see why that’s less a “how touching Eric really cared about me story” and was really a “Kecker is an insanely funny guy” story. For those that don’t know me: I was about 21 years old, no wife, no kids, not even a dog. But how I tried for hours to remember my non-existent family unit.

He was always trying to get you to do something with him, more than often against your better judgement, but it always wound up being a good time. The first to cheer you on when you kicked ass and also the first to laugh with you to try and lift you up when you were down. The best cheerleader. Eric is my eternal brother, he is always with me. And when I need a laugh he makes me laugh. I have Eric to thank for many great times. 


In the Words of a Coach:

I was Eric’s coach at GMVS and the year prior to his making the U.S. Ski Team. We were more than a coach and athlete, I always thought of Eric as my little brother — although it’s difficult to ever use the term “little” regarding Kecker. 

When Eric came to GMVS from BMA we had probably our most talented group of male athletes during my time coaching men. Eric consistently became a key part of great teams. That may be what was attractive for him about football. The following years at GMVS we had a great culture and teams, we had a really strong cycling team despite our late starts for training every spring, our group the year following graduation was incredibly tight, and during Eric’s time with the U.S. downhill team the same dynamic emerged. Eric was committed to becoming the best he could be and combined this competitiveness with the understanding of the strength in a team. This wasn’t only an ideal but a core part of his being.

Randy Graves was a key part of our team as a coach at GMVS. Under Randy we were always doing ski test tracks working on finding out which skis were fastest and on improving gliding — and we had incredible gliders! 

  • We had a junior championship race at Mt. Snow where Randy and Scott Wood (our other coach) had a speed track timer set on a flat section so we knew how fast our skis and athletes were. Immediately after that section there was another portion out of sight of other coaches where our athletes would stand up to deliberately check their speed. I remember in the training just prior to the race other programs were excited about their results only to be very disappointed when the race actually occurred.

There were a number of notable races at Sugarloaf:

  • One where Eric was two plus seconds out coming into the headwall prior to the bottom section and won the race.
  • Another which was brutally cold and Eric did well afterward stating he had gone skin to win, meaning he raced only in his suit as that was thought to be faster by hundredths.

We had an autonomous post-graduate program after the guys Eric’s age graduated from GMVS. This wasn’t a situation which was elite level funding or one coach with an athlete. We had eight athletes and one coach. But, most importantly, we had an incredible group.

  • The U.S. Ski Team was then about the largest size ever and none of our group had been named.  
  • At one point I asked the guys why they had such worn and ragged downhill suits. One of them replied — “Boog, we aren’t going to pay for our next suits”, as good a reply as I’ve ever heard.
  • We skied a lot; Switzerland for a month in September then Colorado, Oregon, and Alberta for training and races from late October up to the day before Christmas return.
  • During our training in Switzerland there was one day with many courses crammed together. An Italian coach had the great idea to set across our course. I started pulling out his gates and he came down confrontationally. Immediately Eric and AJ Kitt skied down, stood on the other side of me with arms crossed and asked if there was a problem; the coach immediately skied away without protest.
  • There was no luxury involved. Our lodging for two weeks at Mt Bachelor in early December was in a two bedroom condo in SunRiver which with additional guests probably numbered up to twelve people. Randy and some of the GMVS athletes joined us. A  good number of us slept on the floor.
  • We had what was then an innovative timing system with watches for each athlete and timing impulse sensors. I was later told (much later) that while staying in SunRiver, Oregon the guys would take turns driving the rental car within the confines of the condo development on a set track to see who could get the fastest time. There were many such stories I’ve learned of after the fact, from this time and group. These were the type of limits this group pushed as they were 100% committed to making the most of that year and didn’t get involved in anything at odds with that intent.
  • This group trained hard. Those who made the ski team became among the very fittest on the national team. I remember Daron Rahlves arrived at GMVS in the fall for his first year and trained with us prior to our departure for Switzerland. He threw up from trying to keep up with the group doing sprints but gained perspective on how hard he would need to work.
  • At the end of that year four of eight had qualified to the US Ski Team.

While at GMVS we formed a cycling team to compete in the New England Prep School race series. Eric then probably was under 185 lbs and a very strong cyclist. Again, this was another example of Eric being part of a great team. Despite our late start in the spring due to ski racing we won the New England Championships our first year and would likely have repeated the second if not for a number of our team crashing. I remember the fun of the long training rides more than the races. We had long rides up to 100 miles where much of the riding was spent joking and talking. There were intensive training sessions but the fun of the training and team spirit is what is memorable. What is noteworthy is how the cycling fit within the larger scope of activity. We typically had morning runs five days a week which during that era were highly intensive and competitive. The guys on the team consistently did all the strength conditioning in addition to their cycling. 

Our second year, the senior class of which Eric was a member, was going on a spring trip to the west. The senior class members of the bike team wanted to compete in the champs which meant missing that trip. So following championships we organized a trip where we cycled from Waitsfield to Camden, Maine. Two of the team’s families had thirty foot sailboats which we took for our own spring trip. Starting off only three of us on the two boats had ever sailed and we had major wind for most of the trip. Eric and the others really enjoyed the relatively hard core sailing which included some epic days. This is one example of how he always loved to try new activities and shared experiences. Following the sailing we cycled back to Waitsfield.

Another memory is from our wedding thirty-one years ago. We had it on the soccer field at GMVS in two large tents. Part of the way through the reception we had a pretty intense wind and rainstorm. Immediately a number of the guys set about strengthening the supporting lines and I remember Eric being the one swinging the sledgehammer to drive the iron pins deeper — obviously with a huge grin on his face.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to coach many outstanding athletes, I am as proud of Eric as any athlete I’ve ever coached because of how he went about pursuing his absolute best AND was a key team member in helping his peers develop and achieve. Additionally, he moved on from his all encompassing commitment to his sports to do for others and be a great husband and father. Following graduation from Columbia he worked in inner city schools teaching students with behavioral issues. As I’ve constantly thought of Eric recently the memories are so strong — and always — there is his huge smile and eyes full of life.