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Main photo: Algonquin Outfitters owner Rich Swift, AO staff member Carlee Wood, HHS Nordic team member Ryan Clarke, and HHS Nordic coach John Cowan with the team’s new equipment (Algonquin Outfitters)
The Huntsville High School Nordic team is off to a great start this season, thanks in part to a donation from local retailer Algonquin Outfitters.
“Algonquin Outfitters has been working with Huntsville High School Nordic since 1992 and Rich Swift and his staff have always been generous to our program,” said HHS Nordic coach John Cowan. “This year the Huntsville Nordic program has 52 athletes competing making us one of the largest programs in Ontario. Our policy of enabling all first-year students and/or athletes who cannot afford to purchase equipment to be part of the program. AO has been a big sponsor of our program and this year the store made a very generous donation.”
The company donated more than $4,200 toward the $8,000 purchase cost of five pairs of new Fischer skis, eight pairs of Fischer boots and eight sets of poles to support the team.
“The type of ski equipment that we received will help give our athletes a boost on their performance as these race skis and equipment will help our athletes compete to the best of their abilities,” added Cowan. “Lanctot Sports Distributing were gracious enough to hand-select the skis from Austria at the warehouse and to bring us some quality product to Huntsville for our athletes. Fischer Ski representative and former National ski team member Bryan Aller was patient in working with our school program to help establish a presence in the Huntsville High School Nordic Ski Program.”
Algonquin Outfitters has long been supportive of local community groups, and youth sports in particular. “[AO owners] Rich and Sue are both very supportive of the communities that they’re in,” said AO marketing manager, Randy Mitson, adding that they are appreciative of their local customers and want to give back to the communities that support them. “Without our local communities to support us, we wouldn’t be able to operate 12 months a year.”
Mitson said that providing support for youth helps to set them up for success in the future, a sentiment that Cowan shares.
“Developing a child with physical literacy skills requires a community, it is important not only to invest financially but volunteering to model being active,” said Cowan. “The significance of Algonquin Outfitters to invest in our program helps our student athletes to have success and feel motivated to be active for life. Youth who are engaged in physical activities learn about goal setting and the learnings from sport transfer over to their educational studies. Learning how to be competitive and teamwork through participating in sport can be easily transferable to later aspects of a person’s life.”
Cowan added that physical literacy skills like running, jumping, swimming, gliding, catching, throwing are best learned at an early age, ideally younger than 12. “After 12 years of age then children are more cognizant of what they are not capable of doing and there is greater risk that they will avoid being involved.”
He cited Dr. John Ratey, neurosurgeon from John Hopkins University, child behaviour specialist and author of the book Spark! Who “has shown that being physically active is critical for the development of the brain to help the neurons to make connections to establish pathways.
“We are very fortunate to have Algonquin Outfitters supporting our program for many years and as l look back on our graduates and I see so many still being involved in skiing and helping to share the enjoyment of being outdoors in the winter.”
The HHS Nordic team has grown this year, with 52 athletes participating. “We are very fortunate to have some very good racers who are some of the top in the province,” said Cowan.
The team races next Wednesday, December 18 at Hardwood Hills and then again the first Wednesday after the Christmas break.
“We accept all abilities of skiers and this is a good opportunity for students who have never been on a school team and are keen to try a new sport there are no team selection decisions until further into the season after several races,” said Cowan.
This year the HHS Nordic ski program will be hosting the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) Nordic Ski Championships in February 2020, bringing 800 athletes to the community to compete from Feb. 19-21, 2020. The first two days of competition will be at Arrowhead Provincial Park’s Nordic ski centre followed by a final day in downtown Huntsville with four-person team relay sprints.
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