Al Hobart, Ashley Cadwell, Jared Cadwell, Dave Gavett, Tim Harris, Tracy Keller – From the beginning, these six leaders have shaped GMVS into the special place that it is today, serving in the role of Headmaster / Head of School.

Al Hobart, who helped to found the school, served as Headmaster from 1973 to 1978. Ashley Cadwell, another founding member, led the school from 1978 to 1984 before passing the baton to Dave Gavett. Dave served in the role until 1986 and then Jared Cadwell, Ashley’s brother, took the helm 1986 to 1989 while Dave coached for the U.S. Ski Team. Dave Gavett then returned and was the longest-serving Head of School from 1989 to 2016. Upon his departure, Tim Harris filled the role as an interim Head before Tracy Keller joined GMVS in 2017. 

As GMVS’s longest-serving Head of School, Dave implemented and oversaw a number of fundamental additions and changes. He joined the GMVS family in 1978 after graduating from Middlebury College, and initially served as a dorm parent and teacher as well as a women’s soccer and Alpine ski coach. Even before he became Headmaster, in fact in his first year, Dave introduced perhaps his most radical contribution: the theater program, which he continued to direct throughout his tenure at GMVS.

Immediately this innovation set GMVS apart from the other ski racing academies. However, theater was only one of the ways Dave worked toward the GMVS ethos of developing the whole child. In 1984, after Dave took over as the Head of School, he encouraged a variety of fall and spring sports, both team and individual, as well as art and photography classes. In 1986, Dave took a three year sabbatical to work with the U.S. Ski Team, coaching the 1987 and 1989 World Championship teams as well as the 1988 Olympic team in Calgary Canada. In the fall of 1989, Dave moved back into his role as Head of School at GMVS and continued working with theater and coaching.  

At this point Dave introduced his wife, German World Cup winner and 1991 World Championship Bronze Medalist Traudl Haecher, to GMVS, which led to another fundamental change. Dave and Traudl saw the need for American ski racers to be exposed to another level of ski racing, in Europe. Together they built a GMVS campus in Kössen, Austria, a town that bordered Traudl’s hometown. This program was the first of its kind in the U.S – and set GMVS apart. This campus was utilized by GMVS athletes as part of their training in the winter and provided innovative opportunities for athletes and coaches of all ages to gain exposure to the geographic center of ski racing.

Dave, being Dave, did not allow this to just simply be a ski racing experience. Students were given history lessons and academic programming that worked to support these trips by immersion into European life. They were exposed to culture in Salzburg and history at Dachau, and enjoyed the simple village life that Kössen offered as they were being prepared for the big show by exposing them to what ski racing and ski racers were like in Europe. Both the Alpine and the Nordic programs also worked collaboratively with European ski academies, notably Stams in Austria and OSZ Mals in Italy.  

Under Dave’s watch, GMVS continued to grow physically and to excel athletically and academically, with construction of a new dorm, renovation of the three others, and the establishment of the Kelly Brush Race Arena, improved snowmaking and grooming capabilities, the addition of a T-bar, and the renovation of the Poma lift. In addition, GMVS built a LEED certified campus library, and the 30,000 square foot Racing Performance Center, a world-class training and tuning facility. Other projects include renovations to the Weiss Academic Building, including the state-of-the-art Kent Coughlin Science Center, and the creation of a performing arts theater and auditorium, fittingly named in Dave’s honor. Perhaps less tangible, but no less important, was Dave’s many years of successfully mentoring students, coaches and teachers–empowering each to reach his and her full potential. Dave’s door was always open and he always made time to listen to others and share his wisdom.

We are immensely grateful to these six individuals for leading GMVS through fifty years of evolution and major growth. Without their vision, leadership and guidance, the school would not be what it is today.