Jul. 21—Kurt Simard's first priority this coming winter season is to instill in his athletes an appreciation for the opportunity to ski for the Bates College men's and women's Alpine ski teams.
Simard, who became interim coach in 2020 after Micaela Holland left to become the men's head Alpine and U19 coach at Killington Mountain School in Vermont, said that appreciation, along with pride and determination, will make the Bobcats a solid team.
"Once you get a domino to fall, it just keeps going," he said. "I know I got a chance to work with some of them. I know the student-athletes coming in and there are those dominos that are going to go. I look forward to being a part of that and seeing that happen.
"Bates has a great tradition in skiing and I'm just excited to be a part of it and really move the program along and move it forward. The most important thing to me for how ever long I do it, I want to leave it better than I found it — and I am finding it pretty good."
Simard's last gig was working as the program director at Gould Academy.
According to a recent Bates College press release, he was head Alpine coach at the University of New Hampshire from 1999 to 2007 and was the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2006. He served as head coach and Alpine director at Gould Academy in Bethel from 1994 to 1999 and again from 2007 to 2015, then became director of competition programs at Gould before his arrival at Bates in 2020.
"(Simard) is a very steady presence," Bates athletic director Jason Fein said. "(He is) definitely kind of a steady hand to lead the team. For a sport like skiing, I think it is really important to have somebody who has competed and coached at a really high level and knows what a collegiate ski team should be.
"He is very calm, cool and collected, which I think we all really like about him. I think students will appreciate him as well when they get a chance to see him in action, which they haven't been able to do, yet.
"Now that we are coming out of COVID-19, it a great time for our ski program. Luckily, students were able to train during COVID on their own — even if they weren't in school. Hopefully that gives us a little bit of an advantage coming back this year and we will be excited to see what (Simard) can to."
Simard was sold on Bates after his first season.
"My experience was phenomenal at Bates this past year," he said. "I just got really impressed with the community and really impressed with the student-athletes. It just got my attention. It was pretty clear it was something I really wanted to do.
"First and foremost, it is a program that is Division I. It is a great opportunity to be in the mix, competing against the best schools and the best student-athletes in the country in Alpine skiing."
He added the Maine's landscape of mountains certainly provides a great proving ground for his athletes.
"Sunday River and Lost Valley are our home mountains and they provide incredible training for the team," he added.
With coronavirus cases starting to rise, Simard knows the pandemic remains an unknown factor this season. But he understands that is out of his control.
"Are we headed towards going back to just some real freedom and operating and all those things or are we going to get in a challenging spot with that?" he said.
But Simard won't allow the pandemic to put a damper on his outlook for the Bobcats.
"We are really optimistic about what lies ahead is a good, healthy competitive season," he said.
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