I may have felt lost a lot in my life, but there have always been two things I know and live by: Do what you love and always be true to yourself.
After I graduated high school, my best friend’s boyfriend who was an instructor at Purgatory, a local resort, encouraged me to sign up and teach snowboarding up there. Get paid to snowboard? It seemed like a no-brainer.
I applied and was asked to come back for a hiring clinic. The first day they sat us down and told us what they expected from us. We had to be clean cut, no piercings, etc. I pictured myself looking in a mirror – mohawk, facial piercings, a scrappy look to match my scrappy attitude. Pretty much everything they didn’t want.
I didn’t want to change who I was. So, I didn’t stay to listen to the rest, I just stood up and walked out.
One of the managers popped up and followed me out. He told me that he’d heard so much good about my skills and asked why I was walking away. So I told him that I didn’t want to change who I was or what I am. This is me, take it or leave it.
I guess I impressed him, or he knew something I didn’t know, because he asked me to come back to the hiring clinic and promised we’d find a way to work around all that other stuff.
The hiring clinic lasted for the weekend. As part of the activities, a bunch of us all went out together one night and I ended up staying out until 3 a.m. The next day we had to be there at 9 a.m., I was running late of course and then remembered that for our homework we were supposed to demonstrate teaching something that morning. Super hung over and barely able to function, I grabbed some tape, scissors and paper and tried to teach the crew how to wrap a present. I’m surprised I didn’t hurt myself.
To my surprise, I was hired. I was in charge of teaching snowboarding classes for kids. I was told to keep my goggles down to hide my piercings and stay under the management’s radar. I LOVED it! I’d never thought I would like teaching kids, but something about working with them brought out a bubbly side of my personality and we had so much fun. I would create funny patterns with colored zinc on their faces and teach them fun things like how to do 180’s.
I did work with other ages, too, but I loved working with kids the best. I felt like I could be myself around the kids without being judged. I just wanted them to love snowboarding, and it was a huge charge to think I might be helping make a mark on their lives by creating memories and feelings they’d never forget.