Growing up in a patrol family, first on, last off is what we did. I first heard the phrase “train to be above the bar” as a child, listening to my dad’s conversations about ski and toboggan training. Later I heard it as a patroller preparing for my own Senior and Trainer Evaluator exams. As I considered the goal of becoming Certified, I knew the bar would be higher; I would need to train harder than ever to be above it. I also knew this would also be an emotional journey for me. Although my dad, Dave Ronald, Certified #171, has been gone for more than 20 years, his coaching and mentorship left a lasting impact on many patrollers; quite the legacy to follow.
I set out on a mission. There were spreadsheets, lists, and binders. My questions and curiosity were endless. Before the snow flew, I spent nine days working on my personal development as a patroller, and throughout the winter season, I spent 14 more. As I reflect on the season, these are the approaches that helped me most—and the lessons I will carry forth into all areas of my life.
- Find a supportive and involved mentor— better yet, several.
- Be vulnerable enough to admit what you do not know and ask for help.
- Go forth with joyful entitlement, asking for what you need with the assumption that the universe is on your side. Then, if you don’t get what you need the first time around, ask again and be specific.
- Build your network — contact program chairs. Spend time with members. Collect knowledge and build relationships.
- Blaze in, ready to light it up! But remember, each time you go down in flames training, you are learning, growing, and building resiliency.
My heart has immense gratitude for everyone who supported me on this journey. First up is my partner, Sam, and our daughters, Claire and Stella. Sam supported endless conversations about patrolling, sharpened the skegs on my sled (and all the skis), manned the girls’ races, and cheered me on.
Thank you to my mom, Cheryl Ronald, and my grandmother, Loryce Detra, for leading by example and claiming space for women and mothers on patrol. To Sarah Keating, who took me under her wing from day one. I cannot imagine my life without her years of coaching, encouragement, and friendship. The certified members and the entire patrol family at Elk gave me the foundation to build. The Eastern New York Region and Gore Patrol for giving me opportunities to grow and to lead. Bill Zink for fielding each “question of the day,” pushing me to solve problems and find my way, and for breakfasts. To my dear friends and family for cheering me on, especially Lauren Olinksy, Amy Reinink, and Chrissy Ludka.
To all of the certified members and patrollers who spent time with me this season—the list is long. You are amazing, generous mentors who give back to this organization in so many ways. Thank you.