Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Mountain Dell are full of life all winter. Those familiar blue and grey jackets and combi skis huddled in small groups around their dedicated tribe of coaches — volunteers and parents — could bring a smile to the coldest and oldest. But the league, for all that was good, needed a little boost. Enter, TUNA Devo.
From Learn-to-ski through Comp, TUNA provides a way for every child starting at four to enjoy Nordic skiing. However, there was often a bumpy road from Rec to Junior Comp. Rec League maven Lucy Jacob-Nichols and Coach Steve decided to put their heads together and smooth the transition, creating a new streamlined path.
Devo Mirrors FIS Age Designations
This season, kids from U8 (the official FIS designation for those under 8) through U18 can be part of the TUNA Devo program. The goal is to create smooth development from tots on fishscales to Junior Nationals hopefuls, both in classic and skate skiing.
Beginning this season, the Devo team will classic ski starting on January 9th and ski classic until February 8th. Classic provides the basic and fundamental positions and movements for all skiing. The club has acquired a fleet of skin classic skis that will be available for rent to the Devo program kids. Combi skis can also be waxed classic for this first entire block of Devo. Since we usually have colder snow at that time, it made sense to schedule classic then.
On February 12th through the end of the program on March 1st, Devo kids can scrape off their classic wax and polish their kick zones for skating. Once the fundamental athletic position is fresh in mind, skating is easier to learn. Plus, our warmer snow during the early spring makes skating fun.
Consistency Throughout TUNA Programs
Another goal of the program is to work towards consistent coaching practices. TUNA Program Director Steve Cook has researched and designed a comprehensive coaching manual. He has pulled from USSA Coaching best practices, Canadian methods, and our own John Aalberg’s resources. The hope is to educate the coaches on how to best reach students at every age-level.
The Devo program is the feeder for the Junior and Senior Comp teams, and now they will know exactly what to expect at each level. And for parents, Coach Steve has compiled a no-frills list of equipment requirements for each level. Most will be happy to see plenty of overlap in equipment from year to year. The re-purposing of skis and poles for each level will keep costs at a minimum.
It’s crowded on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Mountain Dell. But at least once, go out and have a look. It is pretty spectacular to stand atop the start hill and watch 150 kids falling in love with Nordic skiing.