Homer Mariners ski team makes a name for themselves with D2 boys State Championship title
The Homer High School Boys Nordic Ski Team won the Division II State Championships at Kincaid Park in Anchorage over the weekend.
The six-member team beat out five other Division II schools during the three-day event.
It was Jesse Goodrich’s first year as Homer High’s Nordic ski coach. She was a competitive downhill skier, ultra-marathon runner and swimmer before becoming interested in cross-country skiing two winters ago — all thanks to her teenage son, Jody.
“In eighth grade, he won the borough championship and decided he was a Nordic skier,” Goodrich said. “So we bought Nordic skis that year, my husband and I, and we were like, ‘Okay, we are going to support our kid in this sport.’”
Last year, the previous high school coach quit, jeopardizing the upcoming season. Goodrich said Jody loved the sport so much, they considered moving to find him another team to compete with. Instead, she signed up to be the head coach.
Having no previous experience with Nordic skiing — which is a combination of both classic and skate styles — she said for the first two months of the season, she spent hours each day researching the technique.
“I would just spend all afternoon watching Youtube videos,” Goodrich said. “I got a membership with something called Nordic Ski Lab online and I just went to Nordic school.”
From there, she made her training plans for the team. Those included eight hours of skiing a week, plus mornings filled with weight training before the teens would head to class. She said learning on the job was actually helpful.
“I think sometimes you can benefit from being excited about something new you’re learning and transferring that to kids. And seeing what works and what doesn’t work,” she said.
Eventually, her work paid off. Goodrich led her son and five of his teammates to victory at the Alaska State tournament, where they claimed the title of Division II Champions.
“I knew going into the season that we had a shot at the state championship,” Goodrich said. “The right kids came along…Right now in Homer, we are just very fortunate to have a pretty good sized group of boys, specifically, that Nordic skiing is very important to.”
The Homer boys team came in at the top of all Division II schools in the state at the three-day tournament, beating Kenai, Grace Christian and Bartlett in Anchorage, Valdez and North Pole. They also beat a few Division I schools, including Eagle River, Chugiak, Palmer and Soldotna.
“I was so happy, I cried,” Goodrich said. “One of my senior boys won the classic [ski] race and got second in the skate race. And when he won that race, we just hugged each other and cried. We've been putting 24/7 into this team. When they won, we were in tears.”
Jody, Goodrich’s son, is a sophomore at Homer High School and this was his second season on the Nordic ski team.
“I'm really proud of my team, and I feel like Homer has come a long way up until this point,” Jody said. “We just have a lot of great coaches and a lot of great team members. And then we finally got that statewide representation, and kind of etched our name at the top of Homer skiing history.”
Jody had one of his best races since starting the sport four years ago. And he wasn’t the only one.
Garrett Broscoe is a senior and co-team captain. This was his last season with the high school ski team.
“That was probably my best weekend of racing I've ever had,” he said.
Broscoe said that’s in large part because of Goodrich’s rigorous and more modern coaching technique.
“We had harder practices, more early morning weightlifting that was way harder than the stuff we did last year,” he said. “And just longer, harder skis.”
Broscoe is heading to vocational school in Seward next year, but he’s not done with competitive skiing. After graduation, he hopes to qualify for junior nationals.
“So that's actually kind of what I'm focusing on now,” Broscoe said. “But I feel like this is still the best way my senior year could have ended for this ski season.”
As Broscoe’s time leading the team comes to a close, Jody said he’s ready to step up and take on more of a leadership role alongside his mom.
“I think me and my mom make a great team,” he said. “I think she's a very competent coach, as was kind of proven in this season. I was really happy with her as a coach, and I think we're gonna make a great team.”
Goodrich said while multiple kids are graduating this year, she will have a “flock” of eighth graders joining the high school ski team next season. She’s already planning to start working with them later this month to get a head start on training.
To find out more about Mariner Athletics, visit the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s website.