Siblings Bolster Notre Dame Ski 'Family'

February 21, 2018

Compiled by Noah Thomas
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep junior

Family makes everything better. 

As a part of the Notre Dame Prep ski team, we have a total of seven pairs of siblings racing for the team. Due to this family dynamic, the team as a whole is not only close, but we are a family, even to those who are not technically related to anyone on the team.

The aspect of family and unity is huge for us, and it makes us better as a team. The siblings make the team more cohesive, openly honest, and willing to talk to any other team member.

Each pair of siblings has written a short note about their skiing experiences as siblings, and what skiing means to them as a whole:

Noah and Nina Thomas

We have skied recreationally for almost eight years now together, but this is the first year Nina has raced on the team. Noah started racing last year, his junior year, and influenced Nina, who is a sophomore, to join the team. We have skied in both southern and northern Michigan together for a long time, which makes the sport also so special. We had raced NASTAR before we even knew high school racing was a thing. When we came to Notre Dame Prep, we found a sport we could do together in spite of us also loving to ski.

We ski because we love sport, the memories, and especially the team. Being siblings together on the team really brought us even closer than we were before, giving us a common interest to enjoy not only together but with the team as well. We both plan to continue skiing in the future, based on the memories made with each other and with the rest of the siblings and team.

Noah and Hailey Schindler

We both joined the ski team because we love the sport. Right when we could walk our parents put us on skis and we loved it from the very beginning. Noah is a senior and has been a part of the team for all four years, and Hailey is a freshman. We both joined our freshman year and Hailey plans on continuing it all throughout high school.

Participating in a sport with a sibling has been so special; with both of our busy schedules we can count on ski practice to see one another and have a good time.

Sydney and Jack Lintol

Sydney and Jack Lintol are a senior and freshman, respectively, at Notre Dame Prep.

Both sister and brother began skiing when they were about 2 years old and enjoyed the sport in both southern and northern Michigan with family and friends when they were young.

Eventually they started challenging each other in NASTAR courses to add some excitement to ski weekends. When Jack was in fourth grade, he decided to join a USSA club team that trained and raced USSA races. Syd did not want to do it because it seemed like too much of a commitment. By the end of that season her brother was beating her handily and she decided to join the team and learn to race. Sydney earned all-state honors her sophomore and junior years. She hopes to earn it one last time. Both kids love the sport and were very excited to join their high school team as freshmen. The added challenge and camaraderie of team skiing has made ski racing even more fun.

Katelyn and Meghan Kozole

Katelyn (senior) and Meghan (sophomore) love skiing and are thankful for the opportunities it has given them. When they were younger Katelyn and Meghan both did NASTAR, and their parents thought it would be cool if they started to take the sport as a learning opportunity. They both started competitively racing when they were young by accident when their mom signed them up for USSA. After years of training for club it only felt right that Katelyn started to race in high school. Meghan started high school racing following in Katelyn footsteps in hopes to win a state championship.

Katelyn and Meghan achieved all-state honors last season, and have been training and studying hard to earn it once again. Doing ski team allows Katelyn and Meghan to spend quality time together through traveling, practicing and racing.

Alex and Ethan Kocheril

My brother (Ethan) and I (Alex) joined the ski team because we both enjoyed skiing and wanted to try racing. I was the first person to learn how to ski in my family, so my brother and I started off skiing together, as we would often ski without our parents. Every time we went up north, we would usually ski together, or even if one of us was going to our local ski mountain.

However, we skied together less often as we got older and our interests changed. This year, we had the opportunity to be on the team at the same time, and it brought us closer together as siblings.

Sabrina and Julia Fitzgerald

My sister and I joined the ski team because we have always been skiing and thought that racing would be fun. I have been skiing on the team for two years and this is my sister’s first year because she is a freshman. Skiing has always been a big part of our lives; we have gone up north every winter to ski since we were very little. When we both started skiing, we were nervous because we have never done racing before, just recreational skiing. Once we were at practice and starting to race, we realized how fun it was. We hope to be a part of the team throughout high school.

Ian and Claudia Kaiser

My sister (Claudia) and I (Ian) have really only shared one thing in common, and that’s our love for ski. Going out west to Colorado or Utah to ski was always the time we got along the best.

Watching my 10th grade sister ski as a 12th grader is really awesome. I get to watch her progress through different stages of her skill set as a ski racer. My sister and I both began ski racing as ninth graders but we had been skiing since we were little kids, so transitioning from free skiing to racing was different and somewhat challenging. It’s definitely something I hope my sister appreciates and continues to succeed in after I leave, just like I felt my four years on the team.

Each mini article was written by the siblings together, in order to show their love for the sport and the amount of love and value the team has for one another. The amount of positivity each pair has brought forth for the team to enjoy is what makes the Notre Dame Preparatory ski team the team it is today.

As well, the team as a whole would like to thank every single parent who has been a part of this team, and made all we have done possible.

PHOTO: Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s seven pairs of ski team siblings. (Photo submitted by the Notre Dame Prep ski program.)

Petoskey's Spence Caps Ski Career Among State's All-Time Racing Greats

By Tom Spencer
Special for

March 6, 2024

Let’s be clear. Marley Spence is the most decorated racer in Petoskey High School girls skiing history.

Northern Lower PeninsulaBut her favorite memory from the sport is not winning one of her five MHSAA Finals individual championships.

It is helping the Northmen earn Division 2 runners-up honor her junior year when Petoskey had just the minimum – four skiers — in the competition won by Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.

Spence has to admit the odds were stacked against the Northman that day on Boyne Mountain And to top it off, it is a memory that is connected to her middle school days with senior classmate and all-stater Sydney Hoffman.

“It was me and Sydney and two other seniors, and that was our entire team,” Spence recalled this week. “We had to do everything right to place second, and we did that that day and we were super thrilled. That was the highlight of my career.”

Quite a statement for the perennial Big North, Regional and Finals champion in the slalom and giant slalom. She has been a top-10 finisher at the Finals going back to her freshman year.  

“Marley has sort of come along in an era when we have not had as many female athletes in the program,” said Ben Crockett, who with sister Jennifer Crockett coaches the Petoskey ski teams. “She should be proud of the fact that a pretty small team was able to have collective success at the state meet.”

All of the time spent on those powdery white hills since the age of 2 has certainly paid off.

She was the runner-up in slalom and 10th in giant slalom as a freshman. As a sophomore, her accomplishments ranged from Big North Conference and Regional titles in both the slalom and giant slalom to a Finals championship in the GS. She also captured runner-up in the slalom race to finish that winter.

As a junior, she won both the giant slalom and slalom at the Finals while leading Petoskey to the second-place team finish.

And this year, she did it again. Petoskey did not qualify as a team, but she and Hoffman did. Spence and Hoffman have been teammates since middle school, and they both picked up all-state honors this year. Hoffman placed in the top 10 of both the slalom and giant slalom Feb. 26 at Nub’s Nob.

“It helps to train with my teammate because we’re all on one team and we compete against each other and (are) pushing each other,” Spence said. “We watch each other and can all learn from our mistakes and watch we do well.”

This year, Spence put together a time of 51.17 in the giant slalom, then 1:12.19 in the slalom, holding off some tough competition from Cadillac's Onalee Wallace in both races. 

Spence’s performance at Nub’s Nob allowed her to tie Eric Behan for the most titles by a Petoskey skier and set the girls record at the school. Behan collected his fifth in 2005.

Spencer stands atop the medal stand after sweeping the slalom and giant slalom this season.Spence also tied the MHSAA record for career Finals titles in Division 2, Class B or the previous open class, matching the mark of Christy Salonen of West Iron County from 1993-96. 

"From her freshman year on the team, Marley has been serious and committed to high school competition. At times, she has dominated high school racing, yet she is always respectful of her competitors. I’m very proud of her for exhibiting that character trait," said Jennifer Crockett, who similarly graduated from Petoskey in 1995 as one of the program's most accomplished skiers. "This season she had teammates who were not as experienced as Marley, and she really stepped up and took on a leadership role, helping them with course inspections and race day timeline management."

Spence had the luxury, and challenge, throughout her career of skiing against what many would consider the toughest high school competition in Michigan with Petoskey part of the BNC.

This year, Traverse City West’s girls repeated as Division 1 champions. Cadillac won the Division 2 girls team title for the second time in three seasons.

Spence intends to compete this spring in sprints for the Petoskey track team. She is thinking of attending Montana State University next fall and ski for the Bobcats. 

Recently labeled one of the best places for college skiers by POWDER magazine, MSU is recognized nationally and internationally for its snow science research.

“I might be going out to Montana State, and if I do then I’ll definitely ski,” she said. “It is very hard to ski in college – more than any other sport – because they bring in all the Europeans and they take the spots, but I am going to strive for that.”

As she wraps up her high school career, Spence reflected on the challenges of being a high school skier and noted slalom is her favorite race.

“I would say slalom because it is high tempo, and you have to think more about it,” she said. “It is more strategic.

“Sometimes it is hard to stay focused when you have so much going on with friends and other things like parents there, coaches there,” she continued. “Trying to keep a routine every race is what has helped me succeed.”

Part of that routine, as Jennifer Crockett noted, is inspecting the course as a team – something Spence will miss as it allowed her to mentor her younger teammates. But her impact on Petoskey's program, and high school skiing statewide, will not be forgotten.

“Marley has five individual state championships and there are only two other individuals in the history of skiing in Michigan to make that accomplishment,” Ben Crockett said. “Any review of the history would have to include her as one of the best to ever ski at the high school level.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Petoskey's Marley Spence skis a slalom run during the Feb. 26 Division 2 Finals at Nub's Nob. (Middle) Spence stands atop the medal stand after sweeping the slalom and giant slalom this season. (Photo by Sarah Shepherd.)