Q&A with Tera Adams of Adaptive Sports at Mount Snow

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

With all the great work they do here at Mount Snow, we decided to sit down with Tera Adams, the director of Adaptive Sports at Mount Snow, to learn more about this organization and the important work they do on and off the mountain.

MS: Tell us a little about the history of Adaptive Sports at Mount Snow. 

TA: Previously a program called Ability Plus provided adaptive winter programming at Mount Snow. In June of 2017, Adaptive Sports at Mount Snow was formed and started providing winter programming in November of 2017 with the goal to provide adaptive recreational programming year-round. After a great winter, we are kicking off the summer with Pedalfest , an inclusive 3-day mountain bike workshop. This will be the first summer that adaptive opportunities will be offered from this location.

MS:  Can you tell us a bit about  Adaptive Sports at Mount Snow's relationship with  Mount Snow? 

TA:  ASMS is a third party vendor that works independently from Mount Snow as a non-profit. We operate under a 501(c)3 status. We have a mutually supportive partnership with Mount Snow that allows us to work with clients and guest of the Mount Snow community to provide inclusive and accessible recreation opportunities. Sometimes this looks like one of our staff or volunteers acting as an aid in the standard ski school or camp setting, other times it takes the shape of a 1:1 ratio experience provided by specially trained volunteers, perhaps with specialized adaptive equipment. Our office is located inside the Discovery Building, along with Mount Snows Ski School.

MS:  How has the program evolved and grown over the years? 

TA: This is our first year operating as Adaptive Sports at Mount Snow, but the history of adaptive options offered at Mount Snow is long. For a while, it was offered through the standard ski school, but at a point, it was realized that the needs of the clients could be better served by an independent organization who worked along-side of the regular ski school. This past winter, ASMS had around 200 volunteer instructors and assistants, ran over 700 individual experiences, and served over 200 clients. We are hoping to take that momentum into a new realm with summer programming this year.

MS:  Where do you see it heading in the next year, five years, ten years. 

TA:  We are committed to quality growth over the next few years. We recognize that numbers aren’t always an accurate reflection of that growth. So we focus less on becoming “bigger” and focus more towards becoming even “better”. We are doing this through training and diversifying our skills and offerings. As we become “better” we believe that we will organically become “bigger." In 10 years, we want to be seen as a leader in adaptive sports and inclusive recreation programming in the New England area.

MS:  When did you get involved with Adaptive Sports at Mount Snow

TA:  I started on November 1, 2017.

MS:  What originally got you involved with this cause? 

TA:  I have been involved in commercial recreation for most of my life. I started as a commercial river guide when I was 16 and have held jobs in the recreation industry for 20 years now. Through a fellow river guide, I learned about adaptive recreation and ended up working for an adaptive organization in Utah as an Americorps member. I fell in love with the idea that there was a whole field built around empowering individuals to enjoy the outdoors and to seek experiences that could better their life through recreation. I ended up finishing my undergrad and later a Masters Degree at the University of Utah, earning an MS in Recreation Therapy, and completing my National Certification in Therapeutic Recreation. After working in the field for a few years, I randomly saw a job posting that was kind of vague for what it was actually hiring for. Out of curiosity, I applied and had an interview with the board of ASMS, not thinking anything of it. Two days later, I got a call back with an offer! And three weeks later I drove from Utah to Vermont and am absolutely loving it!

MS:  What’s one thing you wish people knew about ASMS?

TA:  That we’re here and that adaptive recreation exists as an opportunity. I think that people just assume that they can’t, or that their family members can’t. But we are here to change that perception. We are about “can”. We are about empowerment and equality. Sports and recreation is a place where we all have a right to try, and that is why ASMS exist and that is what I wish people knew.

MS:  Can anyone volunteer? If so, how do they go about it?

TA:  If you are over the age of 12, you can volunteer. We have different roles and different commitment levels. Start by checking out the website www.msadaptive.org  to get a feel for what we do. Email  info@msadaptive.org if you have questions after that. We start taking applications for our winter program in September.

MS:  What are some of your major events during the winter? 

TA:  Aside from our daily lessons, we facilitate, along with Mount Snow, a huge group of students from a support network called Kids of Courage, for a day of skiing and snowboarding. We have a Special Olympics Ski and Snowboard team that practices weekly and then participates in the Special Olympics Vermont Winter Games. We have our fundraiser event Winterfest, that includes a ski-till-you-drop-athon, and an evening gala and auction.

MS:  What does Adaptive Sports at Mount Snow do during the summer months? 

TA:  This is our first summer, so we are still figuring out what we do. But this summer we are running a bike event, Pedalfest . And in August we are running a Teens Adventure Sleep Away weekend. Earlier we scheduled a Fathers Day Weekend Camp Out, and a 4 th of July Veterans 3-Day Backpacking trip.

MS:  Tell us more about your upcoming Pedalfest

TA:  Pedalfest is an inclusive weekend of mountain biking for all biking ability levels, able-bodied and adaptive athletes both. From beginner trail rides to lift-served downhill, there will be something for everyone. Enjoy the gently rolling and relaxing Valley Trail to charging down the lift served trails at Mount Snow! We are bringing in a guest coach, retired pro Brian Bartlett (Ironhorse and Hayes Components) to lead the downhill portion. Bartlett is a pro who raced the Red Bull Circuit as an above the knee amputee against able-bodied races. As a result of not finding a prosthetic that would stand up to his level of riding, Brian ended up designing and later producing his own prosthetic knee, which is now used worldwide with adaptive athletes.  Also prosthetist, former US Disabled Ski team member and Ski Hall of Fame inductee and downhill rider out of Highland Bike Park, Jason Lalla will be on hand to help with any prosthetic needs.  Guys from Unior Bike Tools, USA's, Eric Schofield and Christopher Kreidl, will be leading some basic maintenance clinics. Saturday night, we’ll be showing the Teton Gravity Research film, unReal out on the grass under the stars. That is free and open to anyone who wants to come. Bring a blanket or a chair, in case of rain we will move into the Bluebird Barn. Starts at 8:30 with an introduction by Brian Bartlett. The event kicks off Friday at noon and wraps up Sunday around noon. For more information check out msadaptive.org/summer-programs .

MS:  Is there anything else you’d like people to know about the great work Adaptive Sports at Mount Snow is doing?

TA:  Spread the word. And challenge perspective, including your own. Be a part of creating empowered communities. Follow us on Facebook and on Instagram @adaptiveatsnow and #adaptiveatsnow.

Tera Adams out with an Adaptive Sports at Mount Snow client this past winter. 

The smiles are the best reward.

Adaptive Sports at Mount Snow working with a recent mountain biking client. 

Tera with US Marine Corps Veteran and US Disabled Olympic Ski Team member, Josh Elliott, at an event this last December. Elliot was a former ski student of Tera's a few years back, right after his injury in Afghanistan.

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