Empowering the female athlete from within
Several years ago, Head of School Tao Smith identified a priority of examining what it is to be a female student-athlete at a ski academy, and made the decision to focus on a theme of "Ski Academy Life for Girls" at Killington Mountain School. That goal has taken multiple forms, including the creation of a girls' lounge and the formation of a Women's Initiative group that meets in the evenings after classes and partakes in fun outings, community service projects, and works with guest speakers on a variety of relevant topics. As a part of that overarching goal, KMS has been working collaboratively with several external speakers whose message has been identified as being in alignment with the school's overarching focus on the concept of "team", being one's best, and elevating those around you to do the same.
In addition to Keith Wilford of the Wilford Movement joining the school to work with students and faculty on multiple occasions throughout the year, the school has asked pro-cyclist Amy Alton to work with its female student-athletes three times this year. Amy joined the Women's Initiative group last year to speak one evening, and the girls responded well to her message of empowerment.
Amy explained her intent in working with KMS students, "My goal is to have these female athletes relish in the feelings of being strong, powerful, and confident both on and off the slopes. Through the sessions I plan to share some lessons I've learned which will allow these young ladies to feel equipped with tools and techniques to enhance performance and overcome perceived and real obstacles." Amy's first session with the group focused on the importance of mindset, with elements of presentation, guided discussions, and interactive activities covering mental logging, goal setting, and positive self-talk/affirmations. In the next session she will examine elite performance challenges and motivations with the girls, and work through visualization and relaxation techniques; in the final session she will focus on performance nutrition, engage in training discussions, and cover female-related brand management and marketing via social media.
Amy's athletic and professional background makes her uniquely prepared to work with female athletes on these topics. She has extensive knowledge and expertise in performing and succeeding at the elite level in downhill, enduro, and cross-country mountain bike racing as well as national level equestrian shows. She is a brand ambassador/rider for Juliana Bicycles and is currently Killington Bike Park's female pro. Amy initiated and leads the "Killington Divas of Dirt", a community of female mountain bikers. In addition to being a professional athlete, Amy owns and runs a management and recruiting consulting firm, and before racing down mountains, she worked for the Department of Army, leading environmental and government affairs across the Mid-Atlantic states. She holds a graduate degree from Duke University and an undergraduate from Mount Union College (OH) where she was a NCAA athlete in basketball and track and field.
It is the school's hope that by working with carefully chosen speakers like Amy and Keith, KMS student-athletes will become increasingly self-aware, confident from within, and supportive of one another in sport, in school, and in life beyond campus walls.