The Circle of Mentorship
After graduating from the mentor program, Alexis Sanchez prepares to become a junior mentor and put his leadership skills to test with a group of younger participants. He admits it already feels very different than being in the mentor program with a lot more added responsibility, but there are definitely perks that come with it. He is really excited to get to work alongside seasoned mentor, Katie Biggers, who came to visit him at work a few times this summer so they could stay in touch.
“For one of our workshops this year, the junior mentors were able to vote on what life skill we wanted to learn and we voted on cooking,” says Sanchez. “I am really excited about that one because we will learn from a Palisades chef and then get to ski there after. It will be my first time skiing there.”
Alexis learned to ski through SOS’ introductory program at Diamond Peak and then progressed on to the mentor program at Northstar. He still sees his mentor, Amy Berry, who shares photos of him from when he was just learning how to ski.
“One of my most memorable days at SOS was a ride day after a big snow storm, maybe 2018 or 2019, when no one else in my group showed up so it was just Amy and I. I was trying to learn how to hockey stop and we were able to do drills down the run until I mastered it. She told me for every five pizza turns I did, I had to try to slow down with the hockey stop. There was so much powder that when you fell, it didn’t feel like falling. It was a great day to learn.”
Alexis shares another time he felt inspired after a community service activity cleaning up the beach and seeing all of the plastic that was left behind, particularly plastic straws. He learned more about the harmful effects plastic has on the planet and visited local businesses with a peer to share what they learned and ask if they would be open to switching to paper straws. (See Alexis on TV here!)
“What I love about SOS is there are always people, peers or mentors, willing to help you learn, on and off the mountain. I never had a bad day with SOS. People may be shy but they are always willing to talk to you. Connecting with people through skiing is totally different than connecting with people randomly. I’ve always been able to talk to my mentors about things going on outside of the program.”
As a junior mentor this year, Alexis will also watch his 11-year-old brother advance through the introductory program, learning how to ski and how to define SOS’ core values. Next year, he plans to go to Truckee Meadows Community College to learn how to be a mechanic and to volunteer with SOS as much as his schedule allows. He is grateful to have learned skiing because it is the only sport that has really kept his interest.
“Without skiing, I would be stuck at home a lot during the winter. It’s something I always look forward to in the winter, being able to ski again. It’s had a big impact on my life, feeling like I can get out there and have fun while also helping me forget what else is going on in my life. I can just take a break to be in the present moment and do my thing on the mountain.”