Interview with Coach Margot Costentino
In the first season as an athletic program on campus, how do you feel that the alpine ski season went?
I thought that the season went really well for a first season. We had five student athletes ranging from freshmen to seniors. I felt that we had a very successful season. We competed in three races and I was pleased with the overall results for a first-year program. Even though it was a small group, they all came to practice every day and worked hard. I was very pleased with their work ethic and desire to be on the team.
Can you explain how the very first race as a program went? What was the atmosphere like for the athletes heading into the first race?
The first race was supposed to be a two-day event held at Black Mountain in the middle of January. But due to a snowstorm it was changed to a one-day event with both races taking place on the same day. So, on top of the nerves from it being the first race of the season, it was kind of doubled with the stress of having two races on the same day. Also, for our seniors this was their first race since high school, so it was an adjustment for them getting back into it. But they went out there and did what they needed to do. I think by the end of the first run the nerves had dissipated. We went up to Farmington on that Friday and spent the night. We got up and went out to the hill for 7 a.m. and probably didn’t leave until almost 4 p.m. It was a long day for all of us. It was windy and cold, but it was a great event.
Who made the very first run in Saint Joseph’s College Alpine Ski Team history and what was that like?
I think the very first racer for Saint Joseph’s College to cross the finish line was freshman Brianna Cobb. I remember it being so exciting to have the first racer finish and have that first event out of the way. It was exciting for all of us, including the parents and the other schools there. For the other schools to have another team joining the division was very exciting.
What was the makeup of the Monks’ first Alpine Ski Team?
In the very first race our women were so close in their times. Sarah Hotchkiss finished in 17th, followed by Brianna in 19th, and Lexi Summers in 23rd. So, we felt that they had established themselves in that middle ground, which, moving forward, can really help a team out. If you have a skier who finishes in the top five, but don’t have anyone in that middle ground it can really throw off a team’s scores. Consistency was our main focus. The same was the case for our men. The two of them (Eryk Bean and Burke Cornish) were always battling each other and quite often finished a place or two within each other.
What was that first practice on the mountain like?
It was tough. It was around November 17th when we were able to get on snow for the first time. The conditions were great, which we were very thankful for. We were focused mainly on getting runs in rather than on training gates. But it was certainly an adjustment. From getting back into the feel of ski racing, new ski boots, new race gear, and the transition from a high school ski team to a college ski team, it was a change for everyone. It was definitely eye-opening for them to remember how difficult it is. It really made them appreciate the 6 a.m. drylands. As difficult as it was that day, it would have been more difficult had we not started October 15th with drylands.
Photo: Margot Costentino
Being a new sport on campus, what was the overall perception and interest in it?
Coming from New Hampshire, Maine isn’t much different in the sense of activities that people do. But I was shocked to see how many people had never been skiing or been on a mountain. So, the explanation of what we do and how we do it was intriguing. I think overall as a community people have been very supportive and asking questions to learn more about what we do. It would be awesome to see more of a following in the coming seasons, maybe even see a crowd at our home event at Shawnee Peak, but, overall, I was very pleased with how welcoming people were of the new program.
When you look forward, what are your goals for the program?
I definitely want to grow the team. Ideally, I would like to have a roster with ten men and ten women. As far as next year goes, I want to participate in all six races and be a little more competitive. My goal would to be in the top three of our division next year. In the coming years, making it to regionals is definitely a goal of mine. Hopefully down the road as the program grows, we can eventually make it to nationals.
With this being a new and upcoming program, what is your recruiting pitch to prospective student athletes?
Currently, one of the key pitches I have been making is being part of something new. Our location is also an important piece to my recruiting. A lot of students want to continue skiing and stay in the Maine area. Having a competitive ski team that has the chance to win championships can draw some of those kids from a school that only has a club team. We are supported by our athletic department which gives us a huge advantage.
What have you enjoyed most about this new program and being a part of Saint Joseph’s?
My favorite part is the fact that this is my everyday, full-time job. Being here every single day and getting to know my student athletes is very important to me. It has been a lot of fun to be part of the school community and the athletic community. We run the concession stand at the basketball games, which has been a cool way for our team to mesh.