Who's in the Burrow?

"We are smart and capable people"

Jace Bensch, Dylan Brooks, Ben Stone, Scott Cooper, 
Carrie Adams, Austin Meng, and Valedictorian Evan Dion, 
the SBA graduating class of 20ll (Photo by Andy Giordano)

In his valedictory address to the student body at graduation Saturday, Evan Dion put to rest the debate that rages on campus over the three skiing disciplines represented in the SBA student/athlete body. 

"Nordic skiing's the best," he said. 

Not to take him out of context - he did throw an olive branch out afterwards to the Alpine and Freeride skiers, but you'll have to read the text of the speech to find it. 

The SBA Class of 2011 has graduated, and, for some, at least, that means that the time has come to leave the comfortable confines of the Marmot burrow up on Donner Summit. 

Some of the Fighting Marmots you see above proudly displaying their diplomas after graduation ceremonies will go on to ski at the collegiate level.

Others have opted to stay within "the comfort zone" (read the speech!) for another year, foregoing college admission to continue to develop their skiing talents with the Sugar Bowl Ski Team. 

One of them will transition from competitive skiing to collegiate rowing.

Wherever they are headed, Dion says that - thanks to their friends, family, and SBA teachers and coaches - he and his classmates are prepared for whatever lies ahead. 

Below is the text of Dion's valedictory address to the student/athlete body at Judah Lodge Saturday. Please take a moment, too, to vote on the most memorable moment of 2011 graduation in the sidebar poll. 

Congratulations and all the well wishes in the world to the Class of 2011! We will miss you!  


Dion addresses his class
Welcome parents, friends and family. 

When I decided to attend SBA as a Junior, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. As I am kind of a shy person, I would have probably made it through public school without ever having to give a speech like this. But, with Senior Project and our classwork, it seems like I have been doing a lot of public speaking, lately. 

If I had known about this in 2009, I might have never come.
Honestly, the decision to go to SBA was one of the hardest I have ever had to make. I wasn’t sure if I would like a small school or if I would like the kids here, and, when we visited, we were there at a time when the school was being remodeled and, well, the school didn't have any walls.

But, by then, I already knew I was ready for something different. I knew I was ready to challenge myself to be a better skier and that working with Jeff Schloss would do that for me. So I took the plunge and found that SBA was about a lot more than athletics. It really is a place that embodies "Mind, Body and Spirit."

Once I arrived at SBA, met my classmates and learned about the school trips, I knew I had made the right choice. Where else can you do an orientation trip to Yosemite with your entire school? Or the Pole Peddle Paddle, or all of our ski trips, or the camping trip?

Also, the freedom to explore provided by the school is something I really valued. This spring we took advantage of the morning ski schedule, and were able to go backcountry skiing, and those trips are some of the coolest things I have ever done.

With the small class size here, we have all become very comfortable speaking up in class and having enthusiastic discussions. Some of the staff might say we are “too comfortable." I remember we talked about everything except senior project during one of our classes, and Mrs. Knox lets us log that hour as 10 minutes of reflection time.

One of our favorite past times at SBA was arguing whether Alpine, Nordic or Free ride was the best. but we have now realized that there is no use to debate. Nordic skiing is the best. Just kidding.

The class of 2011 is known for being good students and good athletes. We are a fairly diverse group with different backgrounds, but what we have in common is that we all love to ski.

Jace has been at the academy since 9th grade. I got to know Jace pretty well this year through Drama. One of the drills we did was yell across the road to each other to practice using our diaphragms. And, it should be no surprise to those who know him, that Jace was the best at this.

In the fall of 2009, Carrie, Austin, Dylan, Scott and myself arrived at SBA. I have known Austin since we were 3 years old, but he still manages to surprise me. Last year, he not only came to school in a cross-dressing caveman outfit for spirit week, he then later wore that same outfit during our roller ski intervals after school.

Carrie, I take my hat off to her. She had to deal with us guys for two years. In class, Carrie likes to stand up a lot so she can stay focused. So, one time, we decided to mess with her. Whenever Carrie would sit down, we would all stand up, and whenever she stood up, the rest of us would sit down. Looking back, I can't think of why we did this, but we thought it was funny at the time.

At the Pole Peddle Paddle, I got to do a trip with Scott and Dylan, who accompanied us to Bend Oregon to try out some endurance racing. Apparently Alpine skiers are not used to that much activity, as there was a steady stream of complaints after the race on the drive back to the house, but I think they were inspired - at least Scott was. He said that he probably could do the race by himself next year - if he started training immediately. Dylan, not so much. He said something more like “I was tired after the downhill, I just want to ride chair lifts. Uphill is the worst.” 

Ben came for winter term of this year- and he is a great addition to our senior class. Just the other day, he ate a funnel cake made for three people before going on the biggest rides at Six Flags, and he did not puke.

One of the best things about Sugar Bowl, its not as cliquey as public high schools. I am friends with kids outside of my grade level and everyone dresses up for spirit week. At my old school, only a handful of kids dressed up during spirit week, and their costumes were generally pretty lame. It was considered uncool to dress up. Here, there are no real social barriers - everyone does as they please and are themselves, and this makes high school a lot more enjoyable.

Sugar Bowl is an awesome place to learn. You are unable to go unnoticed here. At public school, I was able to zone out for an hour and a half if I was bored or tired during class, and not worry about being called on if I didn’t know the answer. However, at SBA, I have been in classes with only 3 people, and this makes this almost impossible.

Plus the staff and coaches really care about us. Their sacrifices, as well as those of our parents, have made it possible for us to have so many great experiences.

It is a tough decision to attend a school like SBA, but I think we all would agree that it has been worthwhile. I have made some great friends, and our teachers and coaches are always "pushing us out of our comfort zone," both in the classroom and in our sport.

At this time, I would like to thank the staff of SBA. We are going to miss you all, and I am sure that we will keep in touch in the future.

I think Tracy will miss our class the most, or at least will notice the absence of discretionary warnings in her day. My personal favorite was when she asked Austin “if he could park like a human being.”

To the class of 2011, I have known most of you for only two years, but it's been real.

We are smart and capable people. Sugar Bowl helped us become who we are, and we have all the tools necessary to make a positive impact in our respective corners of the world.

If we take nothing else away with us from SBA, at least we will still have all that character we built from shoveling tons of snow.

Congratulations class of 2011. We’re done.