By Amalia JustinianoWith Mount Baker in our backyard and Whistler just a bus ride away, Western’s Ski and Snowboard Club gives students the opportunity to build a community up on the slopes.“The biggest thing is that the community wanted to get connected to each other,” Matt Slattery, founder of the club, said. ”The scene of riding in Bellingham is great and Western students make a good chunk of it.”With close proximity to Mount Baker, Western is a prime location for those who are passionate about snow sports.“It is a lifestyle,” club president Dustin Watson said. “The community of people you share the mountains with is simply the best out there. It comes to no surprise that much of the Western student body came here for the access to such amazing outdoor recreational opportunities.”The club’s Facebook group allows students to create rideshares, sell new and used gear and promote events, like their annual trips to Mount Hood and film screenings. “Anyone can be as involved in club activities and functions as they want,” co-lead officer Nicholas Fields said.The Facebook group is also a way for new members to join. “Our primary meetings tend to happen around the time of these events, mostly to inform interested members of what is going on with the club, event details and how they can get involved,” Watson said.Many students who gained confidence on the mountain through this club ended up becoming club leaders.
“It is a lifestyle. The community of people you share the mountains with is simply the best out there. It comes to no surprise that much of the Western student body came here for the access to such amazing outdoor recreational opportunities.”
“I was really [a] beginner last year, but you have people that are there to help you out,” treasurer Eric Reisner said. “People took the time to see me get better. Now I’m at a level where I can help people.” This club is for those of all experience levels and encourages members to take advantage of everything the club has to offer.“It’s been a great way to build community and make a huge mountain feel like home,” junior Connor Duboiski said. “I’ve gotten really close with a lot of the buddies I met through rideshare and swapping stories on the mountain. It’s been a highlight of my time here at Western.” The leaders of the club strive to keep the legacy of having a welcoming community that loves skiing and snowboarding. Slattery said originally the club was just for riders who were riding for Western, but it died before him and the other original founders picked it up. The club used to be more exclusive, tailored specifically for Western skiers and snowboarders who raced, Slattery said. When he revived the old club that had become defunct, he opened it up to all Western skiers and snowboarders.Today, the club has expanded to having over 1,600 people in their Facebook group. It’s working with mountain gear company Black Diamond, countless students are attending film showings and the club is still going strong after over eight years. Slattery said that he’s excited to see what’s been happening with the club and what will come in the future.