Skiing is the latest varsity sport to be added at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor.
Bapst will make its state Class B debut Christmas week in a meet at Eaton Mountain in Skowhegan.
Paul Bernier of Bangor, a highly credentialed skier and instructor, will coach the team that is sponsored by the Friends of John Bapst Ski Team, under the direction of Debbie Campbell of East Holden.
Campbell said a group of interested individuals circulated a petition at the school and found the response overwhelming.
“It’s taken off on its own,” she said, “because of the kids really wanting to make it happen.”
The team will benefit from the coaching of Bernier, a certified ski instructor who coached in New Zealand, taught at Sugarloaf/USA for five years, and last year directed the ski school at Squaw Mountain in Greenville.
Bernier is a graduate of the University of Maine-Farmington where he raced as a member of that ski team and served as an assistant coach.
The 23-member team is made up of 13 boys and 12 girls. Bapst will compete in the Alpine events of slalom and giant slalom.
The coach expects the team to improve with age. Only one skier is a junior and the rest are freshmen. First-year student Chad Campbell of East Holden captains the boys team, and classmate Brenda Bilotta of Levant captains the girls squad.
The 1992-93 season will be a building and learning one, a season during which Bernier candidly admits wins may be few.
“I don’t expect many wins this year, but do expect to be competitive,” he said. “Next year we’ll be better-known as a skiing school, and then we should start winning.”
Bernier said the team is indebted to Bill Whitcomb, owner of Hermon Mountain Ski Area, where the Crusaders will train four days a week.
“Hermon Mountain is backing us 100 percent by letting us have use of their facilities, their gates, and their timing equipment,” he said.
“If we had to buy that, it would cost over $10,000. If it weren’t for Bill Whitcomb, we wouldn’t be able to do it at all.”
The new Bapst team has been dry-land training for the past two weeks that includes weightlifting, running, soccer and conditioning. Once on snow, they’ll get into the finer aspects of the technical knowledge and training of the sport in preparation for their Dec. 27 debut.
Financial support for the program comes from the skiers.
They pay all their own expenses including the coach’s salary, use of lifts, equipment, and transportation. Bapst teams must compete four years before the school steps in with financial help.
To that end, Debbie Campbell announced the team’s major fund-raiser will be a ski sale at John Bapst Memorial High School Saturday and Sunday.
The sale will include previously owned equipment from individuals as well as new equipment and clothing from The Bangor Ski Rack, Taylor Sporting Goods, and Wilderness Mountain Ski and Sports.
Friday evening from 5 to 9, individuals may drop off equipment or clothing they wish to sell on consignment.
The sale will be conducted Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m on Sunday.
“We’re hoping for a good turnout,” Campbell said. “This is our primary fund-raiser for the program. We’ll have a lot of merchandise for the whole family at very reasonable prices.”