No one ever said it would be easy – and yet, the thrill of ripping down a race course clearing gates, or flying over a knoll, make all the challenges of the journey worth it. Unfortunately, there will come a time in every ski racer’s career when the expense of the sport supersedes all other challenges. The high cost of ski racing is not a well-kept secret; parents, coaches, and clubs know too well the financial commitment and effort required to keep athletes in the start gate. As an athlete progresses and develops, he or she needs funds each season for equipment, travel, and competition. It is truly a shame when funding becomes the barrier to an athlete’s ability to realize their dreams.

Although it takes time, effort, and consideration (like most things worth doing in life), there are several ways for athletes and families to find funds for a ski racing season. One of the best ways to start is to brainstorm a support list. Athletes should consider their network and write down any and all friends, family, and supporters from their community, hometown, home resort, and club. This list will be the most impactful way to seek funding.

Another important aspect of the fundraising effort is to shift perspective and think “what can I bring to the table?” Athletes should avoid thinking of support and sponsorship as a transaction with some thing or some amount owed or due to them; instead, athletes should think of building support as a reciprocal relationship. Securing funds is just as much about what you can give as what you can get. Your supporters need to feel good about you as a person (and not just as an athlete) to genuinely, fully want to support you. When you think about what you can give or offer to your supporters, you instantly build rapport, trust, and community. Values and character-based initiatives help you establish relationships that will ultimately inspire.

Here are several questions to ask yourself as you shift your thinking on raising funds for your ski racing endeavors and think instead about how you can contribute.

How can I make an impact? Think about how to make a real, lasting difference in this world. Unlike other aspects of life not within your control, volunteering allows you to choose where and how to make a difference. It’s easy to get inspired with a cause you truly care about—and it’s rewarding to see your direct impact.

How can I help strengthen my community? From cleaning up a street to reading to younger kids at a local library, you can enhance your own life by improving the areas where you go to school, work, live and play. A strong community with a high quality of life means safer, healthier lives for you and those around you.

How can I connect with others? Think about how to broaden your network and meet people with similar interests. Volunteering is a great way to bond over a common passion. You can create lasting friendships with those you may not have otherwise met.

How can I lead? Often, great efforts need leadership. If you see a cause that needs a push, offer to take the lead. As a leader, you can share your passion, value and inspiration with others. When you take a leadership role, you also have the ability to benefit the world around you in the ways you choose.

How do I share my skill? Everyone has a skill or experience that can benefit others. If you aren’t putting your talents to their best use in your everyday life (or even if you are!), volunteering can be a prime way to share. Get out in your community and put your skills—from teaching to sewing—toward helping others. You may be surprised at how your own abilities sharpen when you share your knowledge.

By asking and considering these important questions, you will start to realize what is important to you and what you have to offer as an athlete worth supporting.

From a practical and tactical perspective, you should also consider this checklist of best fundraising practices.

Download the pdf

Learning to ask for support and raising funds to fuel your passion for ski racing should be a valuable, rewarding experience that helps you develop and build worthwhile life skills – and keeps you in the gates!

Article Tags: Premium Juniors , Premium Opinion

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Julie Glusker
Director of Athlete Career & Education (ACE) at U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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A lifelong educator, coach, and mentor in the classroom and on the field of play, Julie brings passion, grit, community, and fun to her athlete advocacy role as the Director of Athlete Career & Education (ACE) at U.S. Ski & Snowboard. Julie promotes whole athlete development to enhance athletic performance, increase sport longevity, support career development, and encourage long term association to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. Her fate as an educator was sealed in 1st grade, when she wrote “I love school!” on the chalkboard. She also loves skiing and has resided in Park City, Utah with her husband and three daughters since 1997.
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