Gaylord junior – Skiing
Despite a broken left wrist, and cast covering it, Olli won the giant slalom at the Division 2 Regional at Nub’s Nob in a two-run 54.94, and also qualified for Monday’s MHSAA Finals in the slalom in earning the Michigan Army National Guard Performance of the Week.
Olli suffered the wrist injury while racing in Duluth , Minn., a few weeks earlier and she anticipates wearing a cast into early March. But that won’t stop her from attempting to repeat as the Division 2 champion in the slalom, although the wrist has given her a little more pain in that race because competitors cross-block – or make contact with the gates – which they do not in the GS. She finished seventh in the slalom at last week’s Regional in 127.10 and expects to contend in both races Monday at Boyne Mountain. She finished second in the giant slalom at the 2018 Finals.
Olli also is the goalkeeper for Gaylord’s varsity girls soccer team and anticipates being ready to block plenty of shots once that season gets rolling in the spring. She’s considering the possibility of competing in either sport in college after she finishes up high school next year and also carries a GPA above 4.0 that ranked her among the top five students in her graduating class academically heading into this school year. Of course, she has plenty of time to decide, but is interested in the medical field and considering studying to become a physician’s assistant.
Coach Bill Snow said: “I’ve had the privilege of coaching Reagan for three years. Reagan is a dedicated, committed, talented, humble, accomplished, skier. Not only is she a superb skier on the hill, she is an exceptional young adult off the hill. She is also a major asset to the Gaylord High School ski team because she motivates and inspires her peers. During dryland training, when Reagan was a sophomore with a hand injury from soccer, she looked at me and said, ‘I want to be the state champion, and champions need to work hard.’ She accomplished this goal last year at the 2018 state meet when she won the slalom title and placed second in GS. This year she will go into the 2019 state meet with another battle scar, a broken hand, but that won’t stop her one bit! I look forward to watching her effortlessly fly down the hill to another victory.”
Performance Point: “I had broken (the wrist) the Sunday the week before,” Olli said. “So I had tried to get a little bit used to it during the week once I got casted. I just tried to practice, and mostly my goal going into Regionals was just to try to ski clean. I wasn’t really aiming for a win that day. At that point it was still awkward-feeling because normally you’re used to having a lot of wrist motion for pole touching and getting out of the start gate, but that day I just had to go with what I had.”
Big Monday ahead: “I’m a little bit nervous just because I wish I was at full strength. There’s nothing I can do about it now, so I’m going to go forward and try to put my best skiing out there and work with what I have. I don’t know the amount of time it’s been affecting me right now, but as far as skiing itself now, I think I’m still in contention with all of those girls. It’s just a matter of getting my good skiing out. The starts at Boyne Mountain are a bit flatter, which will be tougher, so I’ll have to make up some time.”
I love it all: “I’ve always been a skier. I started skiing at the little hill in Gaylord when I was probably 2. My mom’s family is big on skiing, so I was always out there. I did a bunch of other sports when I was a kid; skiing has just always been what I wanted to be doing. I worked my way up in different programs, and I got here. … There are so many things I love about it. I love the way it feels going down the hill. It’s so different all the time – there’s not one course ever the same as the other. We’re always on different hills, and you have to adapt and learn to ski different places and in different ways. I love the atmosphere around it as well. You can make so many new friends. It’s a great feeling to be out there skiing … (and) I like the cold.”
Overseas slopes: “I went to Austria this fall with a group from Traverse City, so I know a lot of girls from TC West and TC Central. It was great. The views out there were incredible, and the hills were a lot steeper, so that was a cool experience. And we were on a T-bar the whole time, so we just got lap after lap and we skied for so many hours.”
Setting up senior year: “I’m more of a go-with-the-flow kinda person. I want to try to do some bigger races in the FIS (International Ski Federation) part of the sport. As far as state and Regionals go, I would like to be back on top and in contention for titles. My goal for senior year, I guess, would be to be healthy, because it definitely helps.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2018-19 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard recognizes a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Past 2018-19 honorees
February 14: Jake Stevenson, Traverse City Bay Reps hockey - Read
February 7: Molly Davis, Midland Dow basketball - Read
January 31: Chris DeRocher, Alpena basketball - Read
January 24: Imari Blond, Flint Kearsley bowling - Read
January 17: William Dunn, Quincy basketball - Read
November 29: Dequan Finn, Detroit Martin Luther King football - Read
November 22: Paige Briggs, Lake Orion volleyball - Read
November 15: Hunter Nowak, Morrice football - Read
November 8: Jon Dougherty, Detroit Country Day soccer - Read
November 1: Jordan Stump, Camden-Frontier volleyball - Read
October 25: Danielle Staskowski, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep golf - Read
October 18: Adam Bruce, Gladstone cross country - Read
October 11: Ericka VanderLende, Rockford cross country - Read
October 4: Kobe Clark, Schoolcraft football - Read
September 27: Jonathan Kliewer, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern soccer - Read
September 20: Kiera Lasky, Bronson volleyball - Read
September 13: Judy Rector, Hanover-Horton cross country - Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Gaylord's Reagan Olli skies during her team's Division 2 Regional last week at Nub's Nob. (Middle) Olli won the giant slalom and also qualified for the Finals in the slalom. (Photos by RD Sports Photo.)
Instead of “to be or not to be” or channeling The Clash and its hit song, “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” there’s another question that Rochester Adams senior Katie Fodale is pondering at the moment as it relates to her college athletic future.
Should I golf or ski?
Fodale said if it was simply about what sport she wanted to do in college, it would be skiing.
“Skiing is my passion. I love it so much,” she said. “I love playing golf. But I love the adrenaline rush and how fast skiing is. I love the feeling of going fast on the snow. You can feel the wind on your cheeks, and when you get to the end of the run, you think back on your run and it feels like it didn’t happen because it’s so fast. But it’s really fun that way. I like that adrenaline boost.”
A few more factors add to the dilemma.
There are not many college ski programs, and they tend to load up with skiers from European countries.
Fodale also wants to study biology, and finding school with a golf or ski program that can help with that ambition is important also.
“Golf is much more attainable,” said Fodale, adding that Kalamazoo College has given her an offer to play golf.
While uncertain about the future, Fodale can at least focus on the present as the best female skier in the Detroit area, which is following up a recent past that saw her part of a Division 1 championship golf team at Adams in the fall.
Fodale finished the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final tied for eighth individually with a two-day score of 158 (82-76) to help Adams repeat as champion.
On the slopes, Fodale is the two-time reigning Division 1 champion in the slalom, topping even the best skiers from Northern Michigan schools.
Fodale said despite their contrasts, golf and skiing have complemented her as an athlete from a mental standpoint.
“At golf, I have gotten a lot better at perfecting the mindset of one hole at a time,” she said. “For skiing, you can take it on one run and one turn at a time. Not focus on the end result.”
In addition to winning the slalom for a third straight year at this season’s Finals on Feb. 26, Fodale also is motivated to win her first title in the giant slalom after three top-five finishes. Adams will compete in Division 2 this time, at Nubs Nob and is racing in its Regional today at Pine Knob in Clarkston.
“I do want to win the GS this year,” Fodale said. “I really feel like this year my GS has improved too. I think I have what it takes, and hopefully the results work in my favor.”
When she is not at high school practices or meets, Fodale spends her weekends competing in races conducted by the International Ski and Snowboard Federation, otherwise known as FIS.
Adams head coach Jaime Jackson said that during a recent meet in Canada, Fodale held her own against skiers in their mid-20s, ranking as the top U.S. racer at the event.
“It’s hard to improve on what she did last year,” Jackson said. “She has so much experience and so much skill, whenever she’s not having a great run, she still is having a great run.”
Given that, there certainly isn’t much “coaching” Jackson has to do with Fodale, although there still is one important function he performs.
“Somebody has to put her name in the lineup, right,” Jackson quipped.
It’s been a frustrating winter for Fodale and other ski teams that have seen their season impacted by warm weather that has melted snow and created slushy conditions.
Ironically, the weather lately has been warmer than Fodale played in on the second day of Golf Finals weekend in October when it was windy, chilly and rainy at Forest Akers West.
But with a colder forecast for the latter half of February, Fodale should be nicely set up to win a third Finals title in the slalom and her first in the giant slalom.
Once the finals are over, the big question will intensify.
Should she golf or should she ski?
“I’m still figuring that out,” Fodale said.
If her high school athletic career is an indication, it won’t really matter. Whatever Fodale decides to do, she’ll thrive.
Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
PHOTOS (Top) Rochester Adams’ Katie Fodale finishes a run during last season’s Division 1 Ski Finals. (Middle) Fodale, third from left, celebrates her team’s Division 1 golf championship in the fall. (Top photo by Sports in Motion, middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)