By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
While Spring Break offers time to relax, one group of CC students took the break as an opportunity to travel to New Mexico to work with paleontologist Gary Morgan.
Steve Getty, director of the Quantitative Reasoning Center, led the trip, along with BreakOut leader Toan Luong ’17. The students were able to work with Morgan, the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, on his research and helped with some interesting excavation projects. They found between 40 and 50 types of animal fossils from the Miocene Era, and helped to excavate a 13 million-year-old giant land tortoise discovered near Albuquerque.
Luong came up with the idea for the trip. As an international student, he wanted an option for Spring Break that didn’t involve flying 30 hours home, staying on campus, or spending too much money. Though he did have the option to take a BreakOut trip through the Outdoor Recreation Committee, Luong opted to work with his mentor Getty to plan a trip to Albuquerque. Getty’s previous work for the New Mexico Museum of Natural History made the planning easy, Luong says. The group worked closely with Morgan while at the museum, and Luong explains that he “never took a geology class at CC so helping the paleontology lab of the museum really opened my eyes.”
Luong says he hopes students realize not all CC trips take up an entire break and involve backpacking and hiking. When in New Mexico, the group stayed in air-conditioned cabins and explored restaurants in Albuquerque. The trip was only five days long, which worked perfectly with Saria Sato Bajracharya’s schedule. As a Winter Start freshman, she “wanted to explore the opportunities provided by CC,” while still having a few days on campus. Like Luong, she didn’t have any geology background, but found the “concepts were easy to grasp as we were learning out in the field through hands-on activities.” Both students found the trip educational and fun, and Bajracharya recommends students “go for it” when considering opportunities for travel and exploration at CC.
by Alana Aamodt ’18
The Block Plan provides flexibility for students to pursue and combine their interests, and in the case of Noelle Edwards ’19, this means balancing school and competitive snowboarding.
From the beginning of her college search, she knew she wanted to continue snowboarding competitively, but didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of her education, factors that led her to CC. Now a sophomore, she spent her first two years at CC traveling and training during Blocks 5 and 6, while simultaneously completing independent study blocks.
Edwards rides a 22-foot half pipe and is sponsored by GNU Snowboards and Woodward at Copper Mountain. This past season, she placed second at the Mammoth Mountain stop on the U.S. Revolution Tour, 15th in the Copper Mountain Grand Prix, and competed at the U.S. Open in Vail, Colorado, riding with some of the world’s best snowboarders. To end her season, she competed at the FIS World Snowboard Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain.
Edwards shares, “this year, I was able to work with CC’s very supportive staff to design two independent studies that would challenge me and advance my academic studies while also allowing me to train in Mammoth Lakes, California, during the winter months.”
One of those courses was Economic Discrimination in Sports Based on Gender, where Edwards conducted research and wrote a paper analyzing the wage gap between professional athletes based on gender. Her independent block was an English independent study based around travel writing, which studied well-known travel anthologies and helped hone her writing skills amid her travels.
Edwards is a film and media studies major as well as a news reporter for the Catalyst. She says she hopes to combine her interests in film and storytelling with her other passion, snowboarding. “I’ve wanted to work in the action sports industry for quite some time and coming to CC I wanted to be a film and media major from the very start,” reveals Edwards. “I think a combination of the classes I’ll take at CC and my snowboard experience will guide me to the ideal career path.”
Edwards is back at CC for Blocks 7 and 8.
Heather Fedesco, CC’s first Mellon pedagogy researcher, spent Blocks 1-4 studying the Block Plan. In a position funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fedesco’s role is to investigate the distinctive pedagogical outcomes of CC’s unique academic program. The college will then use what is learned to refine CC’s Block Plan model, and share it with others in higher education who want to learn from CC’s success in implementing the Block Plan. Now, some of the research findings are providing evidence to explain why the Block Plan works.
With more than 1,600 responses from students, assessing over 300 different courses, Fedesco spent Block 5 poring over survey results. She says one thing is very clear in this preliminary analysis: Field trips are beneficial for students.
“The data show that trips positively affect student motivation and outcomes,” she says. “CC spends a good amount of time and funding on these trips, so it’s important to show they are making a difference.” It’s a result that speaks specifically to the Block Plan; students at colleges where they’re taking multiple classes at once simply cannot take field trips the way they can at CC. “Here, it’s the norm. It’s a big reason why students come to CC, so we can show that it’s really valuable in terms of their learning experience; we have the data to show that now.”
By using self-determination theory, which is a theory of motivation, Fedesco’s research assesses three basic psychological needs; when each of those is met, it creates intrinsic motivation for students, which leads to improved performance. Those needs are perceived autonomy — students feel like they have choice or a say in how they go about their learning; perceived competence — students feel they can meet the learning objectives of the course; and perceived relatedness — students feel connected with their instructors and their peers.
“I wanted to see how this theory of motivation played out at CC by comparing courses with field trips and those without. My idea was that courses with trips allow students to form greater, deeper relationships with professors and peers, really addressing the relatedness component of the theory,” she says.
Fedesco found that students felt more autonomous in classes where they participated in field trips. “They also felt like they had more competence, and as expected, they formed a deeper connection with instructors and peers.”
Fedesco also found that students were more interested in the course when they went on at least one field trip — that is, they were more intrinsically motivated. Students also perceived that they learn more in classes where they have a field trip. Students even had higher final grades when they took a class with at least one field trip.
“I tested what happens when you include more field trips—the more you include, the deeper the relationships, the stronger the connections,” she says. “Students were also more interested in the course. That’s the variable we truly want to tap: Raising student interest level, because that can lead to greater student outcomes. That’s a really good thing to show.”
Students reported on a variety of on-campus and off-campus field trips, which were included in the analyses. When just focusing on off-campus trips, like the Denver Art Museum or Garden of the Gods, and overnight trips like camping, visits to the Baca Campus, or classes that took place entirely off campus, out of state, or abroad, the same pattern of results, for the most part, emerged.
Interestingly, on-campus trips also make an impact, such as visiting the IDEA Space, the Fine Arts Center, Sacred Grounds, or participating in events, performances, or meals together outside the classroom. These types of trips may also occur at colleges operating on a more traditional course schedule, however the flexibility of the Block Plan seems to allow for these trips to occur more frequently, and we now know that more trips can be even more beneficial to students.
Fedesco says the results also provide some advice. To make field trips even better, students must understand the purpose for the trip or out-of-classroom experience. “The purpose can simply be, ‘I want us to get to know each other better,’” says Fedesco. “It doesn’t necessarily have to do with the subject matter. Maybe it’s just to set the tone for the rest of the course, for example. Professors should be up front with that and should explicitly state why getting to know each other will lead to a better learning environment.”
She also notes that in some cases, students may need a better sense of how they should be spending free time on a trip, which can be addressed with clear expectations in advance. A post-trip debrief also helps students make connections between what they’ve experienced and concepts that apply to their course.
Field trips also provide students time to interact with people in the community, and Fedesco says those interactions were inspiring for the students, giving them a sense of agency that they can make a difference. She says those interactions also serve to provide different points of view on the same issue, allowing students to sift through those different perspectives, promoting critical thinking.
“When students are faced with concepts that might conflict with their previously held beliefs or notions, they pay attention to it more and think about it more, so that is a great way to use field trips,” she says. “Grappling with that is a really beneficial learning experience.”
Fedesco participated in numerous class field trips as part of the research process. She says that regardless of the topic it was evident students and faculty were connected with one another.
“There is a strong sense of community here at CC; you get that in the classroom and on the field trips, and a lot of it comes down to the nature of the students being open and welcoming and interested in facilitating a sense of community. That is really beneficial.”
These are just the preliminary analyses; Fedesco will also be exploring comparisons across academic divisions and will test whether class size is a factor. She will also be coding interview data to analyze and develop themes, to identify results that speak specifically to the learning experience here at CC.
In May, she presents at the Crown Faculty Center lunch, where she will look at new findings and additional conclusions. And, during Block 7, she’s observing one more class to take a look at what happens when a course takes place entirely off campus (this one will be at the Newberry Library in Chicago). “It’s really a unique CC thing,” Fedesco says.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Each year, the CC Student Government Association sponsors the election of a new student trustee and this year, the student body elected Ben Kieklak ’18 to serve as student trustee for the 2017-18 academic year.
To officially run as a student trustee candidate, student must complete a comprehensive process even before his or her name is put on the ballot: Kieklak had to submit 50 signatures of support, complete a CCSGA application, and be interviewed. As the student trustee, Kieklak will be a member of the CC Board of Trustees. Since many of the trustees do not live near campus, Kieklak’s main role will be to bridge the gap between trustees and students by keeping trustees informed on student interests and goals. Kieklak says he will also “communicate and explain the decisions of the board, reporting back to the student body.”
Kieklak says many things inspired him to run for the position of student trustee, the first of which was his glowing experience at CC as a first-year student. He says that CC has given him so many opportunities, and this is an opportunity to give back to the school.
When he was a sophomore, Kieklak learned that not all students have had the same positive experience at CC. As a resident advisor for the Enclave, a Living Learning Community with many students of color, he discovered many of his residents felt left out of aspects of the CC community. Kieklak says his experience working with these students as an RA helped formulate his goals as student trustee, one of which is “not merely to help individual students, but also to help affect long-lasting, institutional changes that will have a positive impact on the college many years down the road.” These changes, Kieklak says, will enable the college to grow and thrive as a whole. To achieve his goals, Keiklak plans to “specifically focus on the areas of financial aid, diverse hiring and admission, and the granting of tenure for professors.”
In June, current student trustee Mayss Al Amani ’17 will pass the baton to Kieklak at one of the biannual Board of Trustees meetings. He will start his position in the fall.
Maggie Mehlman ’19, Sophia Pray ’19, and Jilly Gibbs ’20 sit in front of a large painting of a man and woman with boxes of strawberries and fields in the distance, part of artist Don Coen’s visiting migrant series on display at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Pray tells a group of fourth- and fifth-graders from nearby Taylor Elementary School that she likes the painting because it reminds her of California, where she is from.
“That’s good,” Mehlman says of Pray’s explanation as to why she likes the painting. “She didn’t just say ‘I like it’ or ‘it makes me happy,’ but told us why. She provided evidence for her personal connection to the art.”
David Figel ’20, Ana Ortiz-Mejias ’19, and Emily Gardner ’19 tell the students to look at various paintings in the museum, asking them to find one they make a connection with. Prompts for connections include: Which piece of art reminds you of yourself? Someone you know? A place you have been? A time when you felt a strong emotion?
Students put their hand on their head when they find a piece of art they connect to, then share their connections with their classmates. As they sit in a circle on the museum floor, Figel asks them what they learned.
“We learn more about each other when we share connections,” one student replies.
“You can always learn something new about somebody,” says another.
The 13 Colorado College students working with the elementary-school children are in Associate Chair and Lecturer in Education Kris Stanec’s Power of the Arts course, one of CC’s community-based-learning classes. Intertwined with the class was a project called “Multiple Narratives,” which fosters engagement with art through a writing curriculum that begins with students making connections between themselves and a piece of art.
The project also seeks to validate and support individual’s various narratives and relationships to art. “My approach challenges the common dominant narrative of museum education, in which the museum has the knowledge and visitors come to listen.” Stanec says.
Stanec is the Spring 2017 Mellon Faculty Fellow for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Museum. The fellowship supports Stanec’s work developing a curriculum to bring together CC students, Colorado Springs School District 11 teachers and students, and FAC docents with the museum’s collections. The Mellon grant supports the development of the Colorado College and Fine Arts Center alliance, and provides funding for supplies such as art cards, schools’ transportation and museum admissions, and pays for the near para-professional assistance of Paige Harari ’17, who has worked closely with Stanec on the project.
Every day during the first two weeks of Block 6, Stanec’s class visited Taylor Elementary (full name: Alice Bemis Taylor Elementary, a serendipitous tie-in with the Fine Arts Center), working with the students in a series of writer workshops. There they used art cards, or photographs, of pieces in the FAC’s permanent collection as writing prompts, engaging students with the art before they even entered the museum. The connections the students made with the artwork generated ideas, or “seeds” for their narrative pieces.
In his combined class fourth- and fifth-grade class at Taylor Elementary, Kyle Gilliam stresses the importance of taking a seed and growing it into a small moment, or snapshot. Working with the children, CC students taking Stanec’s class remind them to use emotion, the five senses, similes, and metaphors in their writing. The result: One girl selects a photo of a Western scene and writes, “Bang, bang! I hear the sounds of gunshots in my ears. Popcorn bursts with flavor inside my mouth.” She explains that the painting reminds her of watching Western movies with her grandmother.
After the two weeks with the CC class, Gilliam says improvement in his students’ writing was clearly evident. “Students went from a few sentences, mostly ‘telling’ about the art card, then transformed into ‘showing’ a wonderfully written narrative,” he says. Asked who benefits most from the CC-Taylor Elementary partnership, Gilliam says he sees it as a win-win for everyone. “I know that our young students benefit from the opportunity to interact with positive role models. Furthermore, this collaboration forms a connection between two learning communities that produces long-lasting benefits for all involved.”
The CC course culminated with a visit to the Fine Arts Center by the children, many of whom had never been there. Prior to the big day, FAC docents joined the CC education course, discussing research on how people learn in informal contexts. The CC students and museum docents used education theory to co-create museum experiences that would meet the goals of both elementary school teachers and museum educators. Understanding how people learn enacted transformation that motivated viewers to look longer at the art.
“I was left speechless as I watched the students interact with art in a way that I’ve never seen before,” says Gilliam. “They were fully engaged and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and appreciated art in a new way.”
A highlight of the aptly named “Multiple Narratives” project was the elementary author-sharing portion of the venture, which took place at the FAC.
The Taylor Elementary students had been revising and rehearsing their art-inspired narratives based on the FAC art cards for two weeks. During their visit to the Fine Arts Center, Weston Taylor and Chris Bittner of CC’s ITS: Innovative Technology staff videoed each child as they read their narrative about their connection to a piece of art. The videos will preserve the students’ narratives and be available for other museum visitors to experience through a free augmented-reality app, Aurasma.
Aurasma will allow the students to view themselves reading their narratives in front of the actual piece of art that inspired it. And, even more importantly, they can share their experience with their family, as each student received a free family pass to the Fine Arts Center. Through the app, other visitors can use the students’ stories as models for finding their own connections to the artwork, Stanec says.
“My hope is that the elementary students’ videos as well as the CC students’ augmented reality ‘auras’ created as assignments in the class are accessible to museum visitors in the future, as well as expanded upon by community members, artists, and museum educators for additional exhibits,” she says. “If this technology and the writers’ workshop curriculum with art cards used in this Mellon-funded pilot program become a sustainable part of the FAC, we can continue to work toward the co-creation of multiple narratives beyond this project.”
Jacob Eichengreen gets excited when a plan comes together. In fact, it’s actually his job to connect dots, strike up conversations, and match resources with ideas. Eichengreen is executive director for the Quad Innovation Partnership, a joint initiative between the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College, the United States Air Force Academy, and Colorado College. He’s spent months digging in to the Colorado Springs community and building a set of programs that connects students with opportunities to implement new ideas, with the goal of integrating recent graduates into the Colorado Springs workforce. Now, he says, it’s time for action.
Applications just opened for the Quad’s signature Summer Intensive. The intensive will run the month of June and is open to current students and recent alumni from the four partner institutions, with preference given to rising juniors and seniors. Ten students from each school will be selected for the opportunity to build, test, and validate a commercially viable solution to some of Colorado Springs’ “most gripping problems” as identified by city and industry leaders. Submitted problems range from homelessness and food insecurity to the implementation of new technologies in a business context. Participants choose which problem they find most interesting to work on and will work in cross-campus teams to realize their ideas.
The program will be facilitated by Air Force Academy faculty with support from Eichengreen, but most actual teaching will be done by members of the community. For example, a unit on design thinking will be led by a premier design-thinking consultant from the area. Other units that touch on marketing, feasibility analysis, branding, fundraising, and legal will all be taught by local experts. The end result is an opportunity for students to learn step-by-step what it takes to bring an idea out into the marketplace from some of the region’s most compelling practitioners. Interested students can attend an information session: Thursday, March 30, 4 p.m. at the CC Career Center.
The summer intensive isn’t the only thing that excites Eichengreen or the community about the partnership.
“The most exciting thing about this partnership is the range of opportunities that I’ve come across; the breadth of opportunities that are right here is awesome,” he says. The partnership’s mission focuses on students from the four participating institutions, working to elevate, educate, and create innovators in Colorado Springs. The elevate component focuses on events programming and celebrating the opportunities for innovation in Colorado Springs, and the four institutions. Educate specifically involves developing skills and providing hands-on opportunities for students through workshops and classes, and offering ways for the students to engage with the broader community. The create component encompasses just about everything else, says Eichengreen.
“That could mean opportunities for students to serve as project-based consultants in the community. The Air Force Academy, for example does problem-solving work with the IndyGive campaign, and has offered their framework to the Quad to create a way for students to earn payment for their work. It’s work that can be lower-risk than an internship, because it’s just for one project. It provides students portfolio development and can offer transitional opportunities for newer alumni, lowering the barrier for entry to smaller for-profits and nonprofits.”
But that’s just one example. Eichengreen doesn’t want the partnership to be limited by a strict definition of innovation. “We’re really trying to be responsive to needs and opportunities,” he says of developing programming. “We have a framework, but it’s flexible. If students are passionate about something, we want to build that in — homelessness, robotics, bitcoin, take your pick on the socioeconomic spectrum. Because our community is smaller, opportunities to get involved at a meaningful level are way more abundant here.” He says innovation can be anything that turns ideas into “valuable action.”
Here, in the Pikes Peak Region, Eichengreen says, there are numerous opportunities to practice innovation professionally, and they’re more accessible here than they might be in other parts of the country. He lists several local organizations off the top of his head that are leading the way locally: “Innovations in Aging is located here, for example, translating cutting-edge research in aging from a research group at UCCS into real-world action; there’s the Olympic sports and outdoor infrastructure; the National Cybersecurity Center; food justice – at least two CC grads are making tremendous waves in food equity, translating waste into plenty and disrupting the food distribution system; and the city itself is looking for new ways to deliver better services, be more agile, and be more responsible with limited funds.” With so many opportunities, Eichengreen says, it’s hard to focus the program because there’s so much happening.
The Quad Partnership is putting the finishing touches on its own dedicated space, a 2,000-square-foot facility right downstairs from Loyal Coffee on the south side of downtown Colorado Springs. “One component is an open workspace, accessible to students, faculty, and staff from our participating institutions to use in a way that’s beneficial,” says Eichengreen. “We have the capability to host art installations, or performance showcases, anything that doesn’t have a home on campus or would benefit by immersion in community. This becomes a neutral, third-party space where the partner campuses and broader community can interact and build relationships. Celebrate the grand opening Wednesday, April 19, 5-7 p.m. at 408 S. Nevada.
He says local and alumni-founded companies can use it as a test marketplace or a space to conduct student, alumni, or faculty-based research. “One week, we could have a demonstration of the national winner of the search-and-rescue robot competition that PPCC did last year; over the holidays, we can host a pop-up retail shop; and if there’s sufficient demand,” he says of the possibilities. There are so many areas in which innovation can be applied and practiced. I hope our space will be compelling, cool, fun to be around, and contribute broadly to applying new thinking and turning ideas into valuable action in our community.”
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Ever wonder what it takes to turn a passion into a career? Anton Krupicka ’05, an ultra-runner, provides insight into his journey to success as a professional athlete as part of the “Just Curious Show.” He was one of the first people to make a career out of the curious sport of running more than 26.2 miles, usually much longer, in his case often 100-mile races, usually on trails in the middle of nowhere. If you’ve ever wondered about how and why different people follow and succeed in various career paths, the “Just Curious Show” podcast is a perfect place to turn. The program, launched by Daniel Bedell, explores a variety of careers through conversations with people working in those areas. The most recent episode, and so far the show’s most popular, features Krupicka, who graduated CC in 2005 with a BA in philosophy and physics, and earned a BA in geology in 2006.
Bedell was compelled to start the podcast because he says he wanted to provide a substantive way of educating students about what it really takes to enter specific careers. He says “the media often only features people at the top of their game and only features the good parts of their lives and jobs.” Bedell hopes his podcast will counteract this lack of information, and educate students on “the good, the bad, the real, and the fake, so they can make the best choices possible for their future.”
Bedell says he was excited to profile Krupicka, someone often considered “one of the godfathers of pro ultra-running.” Bedell is also a runner himself, and wondered what it would take to be a professional runner, especially since there often isn’t a lot of prize money. By featuring Krupicka, he was able to answer his own questions, as well as educate students on what it takes to be a professional athlete. While at CC, Krupicka ran cross-country, but didn’t consider himself a stand-out runner. That changed when, the summer after graduating from CC, he won the Leadville Trail 100 ultra-marathon. The Leadville 100 is a prestigious and difficult race, and winning so early in his ultra career was an impressive feat. Since then, he has gone on to win the Leadville 100 again, and gained many sponsorships to make ultra-running his career.
Beyond his success in running, Krupicka says he is “someone who really is just a nerd of the sport he loves and is happy to talk about it in an honest way.” Krupicka is quite grounded, Bedell says, and “realizes he serves as a marketer for his sponsor companies; and marketing pays his bills.” He isn’t above talking to people like Bedell about the nitty gritty aspects of his job, and is a perfect example of someone who is making a career out of what he loves. To hear about Krupicka’s experience at CC, and his life as a professional ultra-runner, listen to the “Professional Athlete” episode.
By Alana Aamodt ’18
New this academic year, the Community Engaged Scholars Program offers students a comprehensive, structured plan for sustained, informed, and deliberate community engagement. Beyond just requiring a certain number of hours of community engagement, the program helps students find personal meaning and interconnectedness in their activities. Community engagement includes any pursuit that works with a community or campus partner to address a social or environmental need, or indirectly contributes to the mission of those partners through raising awareness around social or environmental issues.
“I am thrilled at the number of students — more than 120 — who joined the Community Engaged Scholars Program in its inaugural year,” says Jordan Travis Radke, director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement. “To me, it demonstrates the passion and drive our students have for living lives dedicated to positive social change. I am excited to see what the future holds, given that this program seems to deeply resonate with our students.”
The program’s goal is to encourage students to consider and articulate how what they’re doing constitutes engaged citizenship and addresses social and environmental needs, rather than just setting generic bounds to what community engagement means. To do this, the program requires on average 10 hours of community engagement each block, as well as participation in skills trainings, and co-curricular learning events, such as lectures on related topics. The program culminates in a senior reflection retreat and the creation of an engagement portfolio that serves as a record of their work, and as a reflective articulation of their progress.
“I have enjoyed community service work since I was in high school,” says Emma Kepes, ’17, a community engaged scholar, “so being a part of clubs to continue that work in college was the natural choice. Through these clubs, I have also found that I enjoy working with kids the most, so I have stuck with AMA and Cool Science since freshman year for that reason.” AMA, Aprender Mediante Amistad, which is Spanish for “learning through friends,” provides mentorship and tutoring for local students between the ages of 5 and 18 whose first language is Spanish, and Cool Science brings local kids to campus for fun and easy science experiments. Kepes is the co-leader of AMA. “I hope to do more important work like this after I graduate,” Kepes adds.
CCE also offers a Community Engaged Leadership Certificate, whose mission is to “develop civic leaders by cultivating students’ ability to integrate and apply learning toward solving complex social challenges.” The resulting structure, initially implemented in 2010, is a three-phase program starting a student’s sophomore year with exploring unmet community-driven needs and committing time to address those needs; then focusing skills and commitment towards one social issue during junior year; and implementing what they’ve learned through a capstone project of the student’s own design senior year.
“The main [difference] is that the leadership program has a capstone project,” shares Montana Bass ’18. “The project involves a partnership with a local community and can be related to your thesis, so it’s an awesome way to tie your studies into community work that might not be there otherwise.” The CEL program is also a smaller, more selective cohort than CES. While both programs require 75 hours of service per year, the CEL program asks for those hours to be at a higher responsibility during the student’s junior year, such as taking the lead on a project, group, or organization, and then devoting hours in the student’s senior year to an integrative capstone project.
“My favorite part so far has been getting to know the other people in the leadership certificate program. It’s a really small group so conversations are really intimate and everyone can get involved,” Bass adds, referring to the cohort model of the program.
These programs both work to strengthen CC’s commitment to community engagement and engaged learning. Read more and apply for the CES program, and learn more about the requirements and timeline for the Community Engaged Leadership Certificate.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
This year, the Colorado College Nordic ski team grew immensely, and qualified the most skiers ever in school history for the Collegiate National Championships in Bend, Oregon in this month. Team captain Ines Siepmann ’18, along with Alice Oline ’18, Kelsi Anderson ’18, and Oliver Jones ’20, qualified for the National Championships by accruing points throughout the season and competing in a specific number of races.
Siepmann says the many new members of the team aided in making a great group dynamic across the team. Last year, the team had 6-10 skiers at each race, while this year a range of 13-21 CC athletes competed. Many had never skied before, meaning a lot of the team’s success was measured by progress and time spent on the snow. The most recent competition for the team was the Cowboy Chase and Laramie Loppet in Laramie, WY over the Block 5 block break. The team competed in four other races over the course of Block 5, performing well and racing hard. While it’s an exciting marker to qualify for the national competition, none of CC’s skiers will be able to attend the meet, which is taking place March 5-11. Siepmann says it is just too much school to miss on the Block Plan.
Sieppman says balancing schoolwork and skiing is generally manageable. The team trains mostly on dry land, since the closest Nordic area is in Monument and hasn’t received enough snow this year for good skiing. The next closest Nordic area is at Breckenridge, which is a two-hour drive from campus, so a lot of training happens at or near campus. According to Siepmann, the team places a lot of importance on inclusivity by providing all the necessary equipment, so “different athletes participate with the team in different ways.” Not every skier comes to all practices and meets, so students are able to tailor their participation to their school work load.
Looking ahead to next year, Siepmann says the team will get together to decide goals for the upcoming season. They have already decided to continue practicing throughout this spring, and have had a pancake breakfast for the team. Siepmann says she’s excited for the continued team bonding activities, and is also looking forward to discussing next year’s intentions and leadership.
Photo of Ines Siepmann ’18 (right) and Alice Oline ’18 by CJ Monson ’20.