After 10 years of volunteering with Sun Peak Adaptive Sports (ASSP), Dick Taylor admitted he’s still not amazing at skiing in a sit ski. With plans to retire from the program this December, that may be how it will stay.
“I’m still not the best at one track,” he said.
Learning to sit ski was just one of many fond memories he looked back on while recounting his time with the local organization, which he helped found after noticing disabled children were being left behind during ski programs during his time as a teacher in Kamloops.
“That was the nexus that got me thinking about it,” Taylor said, who has been a natural teacher all his life.
In 2007 he and the other ASSP founding members had their first meeting. He became chairperson of the steering committee and then president and helped the organization incorporate as a society in 2010.
From the first students, Taylor became an instructor helped teach students and train new instructors as the group grew.
Not one to shy away from challenges, the organization hosted a national conference in their first year.
“We pulled it off the first year,” he said, adding that they have now hosted it multiple times, including in the spring of 2017.
Veronica Connors, ASSP course conductor, met Taylor 10 years ago as a ski instructor at the Sun Peaks’ Sports School.
“Dick was the course conductor and impressed me with his professionalism and drive to make the mountain accessible to all,” Connors said.
Connors said Taylor mentored her as an instructor and board member and he and his wife Terry were an integral part of growing the program.
“I learned from him inclusivity and how to encourage independence in our students. He taught me how to elicit the best from our instructors and build the team spirit that stands today. Dick’s impact has been enormous.”
Taylor was also honored with the inaugural Leadership Award from BC Adaptive Snowsports on Nov. 25. A standout in his adaptive career was the chance to be involved in the 2010 Winter Olympics by demonstrating equipment used in the paralympics and taking part in the torch run through Lytton.
Later he hosted Rick Hansen at Sun Peaks and took him sit skiing. Taylor recounted Hansen skiing into a bank on the side of Homesteader run and having to pull out the famous athlete.
“We call it Rick Hansen corner,” Taylor said, smiling
More than the highlights, Taylor’s true love in the organization was teaching instructors to teach and helping new clients get on the snow.
“Just working with the people and that ‘Aha!’ moment when the student has a big grin. It’s cool to see clients succeed; It’s really really rewarding.”
Leaving after so many years and memories isn’t easy for Taylor, but he believes it’s important not only for him but for the group.
“It was just time for me to move on,” he said. “It’s been a really tough decision to retire.
“I’m extremely proud and extremely humbled in a lot of ways to have an opportunity to be a part of the organization…It’s not about me, it’s about the team and it’s very humbling that people would be willing to put their trust in someone like me.”
After he hangs up his red coat in December he has no plans to slow down, first travelling to Vietnam with Terry for two months before returning to ski with their grandkids on the mountain. He said he would also like to spend more time teaching ukelele, working with seniors groups, cyclicing and paddle boarding, maybe even becoming an instructor.
“Teaching is a part of me,” Taylor said. “I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity to help grow a program like this.”