National Ski Academy is Canada’s only offering where students are able to balance a comprehensive high school education at the same time as managing a high-performance alpine ski training program and competitive season.
Established in 1986, our mission is to provide an environment for student athletes to reach their full athletic, academic, and personal potential while pursuing alpine ski racing excellence.
Not only are we an Ontario Ministry of Education inspected and credit-granting (Ontario Secondary School Diploma) independent school, we are also a recognized ski club in the Southern Ontario Division of the Provincial Sport Organization Alpine Ontario Alpin.
NSA is a board run, registered not-for-profit charitable organization.
National Ski Academy’s mission is to provide an environment for talented student athletes to maximize their individual potential through the pursuit of alpine ski racing excellence, academic achievement and personal growth. Delivering on our vision is only possible through a holistic approach that caters to all the needs of young student athletes.
Our holistic approach builds outward from individual student needs to address three core development areas: Academics, Fitness and Ski Racing.
Our home in Collingwood provides the full breadth of facilities and professional coaches, teachers and trainers needed for our young student athletes to prosper. NSA is the only high school credit-granting ski academy in Canada that provides this holistic program for student athletes. It is our intention that the Academy’s learning environment and curriculum will foster a positive self-image and help our student athletes to become productive, responsible, and caring citizens.
Tornavene is our 125-year-old home and campus at 200 Oak Street in Collingwood, Ontario and the heart of the Academy and provides the facilities necessary for our students to learn, work-out, tune and live. The 12,000+ square foot renovated heritage designated mansion offers modern amenities including:
Our Mission is to provide an environment for talented student/athletes, to maximize individual potential through the pursuit of alpine ski racing excellence, academic achievement and personal growth.
NSA was founded in 1986 by a committed group of inspirational leaders who established the Academy, filling a void and ensuring a home to offer the integration of alpine ski racing and academic excellence for passionate alpine ski racers. Since NSA’s inception the Academy has been guided and directed by a dedicated volunteer Board who drive the strategic direction and goals, ensure the financial health and support the day-to-day operations of the Academy.
Mackenzie Irwin – Chair
Brigitte Kopas – Past Chair
Bennett Carter – Finance Chair
Nancy Esson – Secretary
James Leone – Governance and Fundraising
Madison McVey – Alumni
Bill Reeves – Corporate Sponsorship
Cee Cee Robertson – Fundraising Chair
Tobin Walsh, Head of School
Jeff Jones, Program Director
Ross McIntosh is a physics, math, and computer science teacher who takes immense care and pride in ensuring his students learn, love, and succeed in math and the sciences. Ross works tremendously hard to deliver a high standard of education, frequently staying for study hall in the evenings and on Saturdays, to ensure his students have ample opportunities to practice and receive extra help. He is known for his deep investment in each student’s success.
Under his mentorship, students regularly appear at the top of the Northern Ontario leaderboards for the University of Waterloo math contests. He has also mentored dozens of Canada-Wide Science Fair medallists, and maintained a 96% AP Exam pass rate in Ontario over a six-year period. Ross injects the passion and energy of a professional sports coach into the classroom. In this environment, students are encouraged to achieve things they never thought possible.
Ross’ teaching brings out the best in students during an important period of their development. His alumni speak of the profound impact he made on their lives. He keeps in touch with a huge number of his past students, many of whom have continued to study math, physics, architecture, and engineering at the most prestigious universities in Canada and the USA.
Ross says, “It is my core belief that when I can provide a student with the skills to face the challenging world of physics and math – and they see that they can succeed — they leave with a strong foundation to have the confidence and motivation to be successful in other challenges throughout life.”
Liesbeth Halbertsma grew up in France and the Netherlands, culminating in her attainment of a master’s degree in Law from the University of Amsterdam, complemented by a minor in Art History. In the company of her husband and two young sons, she made a home on Sint Maarten for 14 years before moving to Canada in 2015. Her professional journey has been a diverse tapestry, encompassing various managerial roles, including president of a child rights organization, a successful business owner, and the chair of the Foundation Classical Delight in Sint Maarten, where she orchestrated classical and school concerts for the island and organized events. She presently holds the position of President at Sail Georgian Bay, a sailing school dedicated to youth education.
Liesbeth’s abiding passion for teaching has been evident throughout her life. She provided tutoring to numerous students on St. Maarten, and upon her arrival in Collingwood, she embarked on a teaching career, focusing primarily on French instruction across all grade levels. In addition to her role in teaching French, she also taught Grade 12 Law, ESL, and even a history class. Aside from teaching, Liesbeth is the General Manager of Collingwood Music Festival, and works for Sideroad Farms at the farmers market because she is passionate about food. Liesbeth loves the outdoors, running on the trails, hiking, skiing, biking.
Are you looking for that perfect holiday gift? For the 7th year in a row, the National Ski Academy is running a Holiday Online Auction as one of our primary fundraising initiatives.
Again, this year, we will be donating a portion of the funds we raise to charity – The Ontario Track3 Adaptive Sports Association. Track 3 is an inclusive volunteer, non-profit charitable organization that teaches children and youth with disabilities alpine sports.
The auction is now live and will close on Monday, December 4th at 8pm.
Bid early and bid often at:
William teaches our vibrant visual arts and photography programming for all grades, as well as our intermediate Canadian Geography course. He has worked with the student athletes at the Academy for many years. He holds his Honours Specialist in Visual Arts and History. He is currently the Arts Department Chair at Collingwood Collegiate. He devotes his time to instructional practice, community, charity, agriculture and Mother Nature. Words of wisdom: “Creativity takes commitment and a lot of found material.” Motto: Art for Art’s Sake.
Janet has been delivering an exceptional Grade 12 English program to our senior student athletes since September 2016. Before retiring in 2016 from her career as a secondary school teacher, she designed and delivered essential English literacy courses; taught an extensive array of programs, ranging from Grade 9 LDCC English to Grade 12 University preparation; and wrote English curriculum at the local and provincial levels. Since retirement, she has been busy tutoring student athletes, skiing, hiking the Bruce Trail, and volunteering in the community. Janet is a playwright and a member of the board of directors for local Gaslight Community Theatre Production. Her short story “Breathless” placed second in the Toronto Star’s short story contest in 2018. Janet lives in Collingwood with her husband and their German Shepherd, Tucker.
Patrick Parenteau – Patrick has 25+ years of coaching expertise, he is a certified personal trainer and holds a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Sherbrooke University. Patrick is a Performance Level, Canadian Ski Coach, with a deep understanding of advanced alpine ski coaching techniques and tactics. In addition, he is a Level 3 CSIA, and Level 3 NCCP coach. Patrick is an Alpine Canada Alpin Level 2 official with a thorough understanding of domestic and FIS regulations and protocols.
Patrick returns to NSA, having worked at NSA from 04-06, and again in the 14-18 seasons. Patrick has diverse experience in Eastern and Western Canada with a number of top clubs and elite FIS. Patrick twice earned “Coach of the Year” honours for his work in Alberta
(2002) and Quebec (1996). His excellent communication skills, unwavering dedication, and ability to foster a positive training environment have earned him the trust and respect of his fellow coaches, athletes, and their families.
We are excited to welcome Patrick back to NSA!
Will joined NSA as a Men’s FIS Coach in 2022. He is an ACA Performance Level coach and has a long history of coaching in Ontario. Will is a product of our provincial system, racing through the ranks at the club, regional, and provincial levels. He has led athletes and teams at Georgian Peaks, Devils Glen, and the SOD Team. Will’s experience includes working with numerous athletes from across Ontario, some of whom have gone on to ski at the Provincial, NCAA, and National Team levels. Will has many years of work experience in the ski industry and brings specific skills related to boot-fitting and race ski preparation. Will is disciplined, organized, and hard-working. He has a high ski racing IQ and his knowledge of the sport development pathway will aid in supporting our athletes. Will is familiar with the independent school system as he is a graduate of Crescent School (’02). Will spent his postsecondary years earning an Honours Degree in History at Queen’s University (’07).
Daniel (“Hootie”) Gagnon joined NSA as a Women’s FIS Coach in 2022. We are excited to be welcoming this NSA alumni (’14) and NSA Blake Award winner back to the family. He is an ACA Development Level Coach, working towards his Performance Level certification, and has spent 5 years coaching U16 OCUP at the Toronto Ski Club. He was TSC ‘Coach of the Year’ this past season and instrumental in the planning and logistics for both out-of-province/country training projects. Jeff Jones, our Program Director, adds “Daniel will bring energy and enthusiasm to our school community. His understanding of the athlete’s journey (high school ski academy life and post-graduate experience in the US) will be an asset”.
Louis is an experienced alpine ski coach with over 15 years of dedicated coaching at the Club Level. He has made a significant impact on young skiers’ development during his tenure at Georgian Peaks and Alpine Ski Clubs, where he consistently fostered a culture focused on development and passion for skiing. Louis is an NSA Alumni, class of ’05, and he holds a degree in Political Science from Western University. As a Performance Level Canadian Ski Coach, he possesses a deep understanding of alpine ski coaching techniques and tactics.
A successful ski racer Louis won gold in GS and silver in SG at the 2003 Canada Winter Games and won the Overall Championship title, of the 2003 Pontiac GMC Cup Series. He brings a wealth of competitive experience having attended five National Championships, Nor-Ams, and numerous FIS races across North America.
NSA is pleased to welcome Louis back and allow him to share his skills and experience with our student-athletes!
When Chef Zak arrived at the Academy in the spring of 2018, he immediately had an incredible positive impact on nutritional health of our student athletes. Chef Zak has trained at Le Cordon Bleu and loves introducing our students and staff as well as lucky guests to new cuisine, be it Thai, Italian or French. He has a love for patisseries so there are lots of delicious things on the dessert menu as well. Zak travels on many of the training camps with the student athletes to ensure everyone eats properly and does meal prep and planning with the coaches for away race series throughout the year. Zak lives in Collingwood with his wife and daughter. He hopes this year to be able to once again host the fun and delicious Friday Night Family Dinners!
Robert began taking care of NSA’s heritage home, Tornaveen (built in 1893) in June 2018. He is responsible for day to day maintenance at the school as well as planning and carrying out the special heritage grant projects to keep our building looking great for its 126 years. Over the past 18 months, Robert has been, and continues to be, instrumental in making sure everyone stays healthy and safe by implementing our COVID-19 procedures and protocols. This summer he has overseen the complete renovation of the kitchen as well as numerous other projects. Robert is retired Canadian military and lives in Collingwood with his wife and three children.
Alex began teaching at the NSA in the spring of 2018. She is currently on a parental leave, enjoying time at home with her son. She works with both junior and senior students exploring science with inquiry based experiments ranging from meteorite impacts to lung capacity to impacts on ecosystems. She has a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Genetics and a minor in Psychology from UWO and completed UWO’s Bachelor of Education program as part of the first ever STEM cohort. She grew up in Wasaga Beach and now lives in Stayner with her husband. And whether it is fetal pig dissection, coding for robotics or taking her classes outside to explore the spectacular Georgian Bay Biosphere right outside our door, Miss P. brings the exciting world of science into the classroom.
This is Mary’s second year teaching senior Physics at NSA and will be adding secondary science and math to her teaching schedule this year. Mary has taught Grade 7 – 12 Math and Science for 18+ years in both independent and public systems across southern Ontario as well as Nunavut, and abroad in Papua New Guinea and Vietnam. She enjoys travelling, immersing herself in new cultures and languages, and hopes to continue travelling soon, but is happy to be back home and spending as much time as possible with her five nieces and nephews. Mary also enjoys hiking the local trails and experiencing the abundance of nature that the Collingwood area offers.
Heather Grant has over 25 years of experience as a guidance counsellor, teacher, house director and coach at Appleby College, Neuchâtel Junior College (Switzerland) and most recently, Havergal College. In 2018, Heather set up her own private educational consulting practice, Clearview Educational Consulting. Working with students and their families from all over North America, Heather provides expertise and support in a variety of areas including academic and personal counselling, elite athletics and Canadian, U.S. and International post-secondary applications.
With an M.Ed in Educational and Counselling Psychology and an M.A. in Sport Sociology, Heather has devoted her career to providing essential support to students throughout high school and beyond with a primary focus on supporting well-being in all aspects of their lives. Heather loves the outdoors and in the winter months can be found trying to keep up with her husband and kids on the hills at Devil’s Glen.
Carol began working at the NSA in the spring of 2017. She brings over 20 years of bookkeeping experience with charitable organizations and prior to joining NSA worked with the United Way in Guelph. Carol is an avid skier and worked as an instructor for many years. She divides her time between Collingwood and an island in Georgian Bay where her husband manages a marina. Carol’s dog, Gypsy is the official NSA office greeter.
Jeff Jones brings with him an immense depth of expertise including local and international coaching experience from U10’s at the club level, all the way through the development pipeline to elite U21 athletes at the Continental Cup level. He has been an Interim GM, Program Manager and Head Coach. He has sports psychology acumen and physical training discipline. Jeff is a licensed CSC level 4 Program Director, CSC EL, DL and PL Course Facilitator, Level 4 NCCP coach, Level 4 CSIA instructor and most recently completed his training as a FIS TD.
“I am beyond excited to be selected for this position at NSA,” shares Jeff. “I feel as though I have spent my coaching career building towards this moment and this opportunity. I intend to carry on NSA’s legacy that began in 1986 with founder Jurg Gfeller. I look forward to collaborating with all NSA’s staff to honour our past, deliver great programs now and prepare NSA for the future.
Tobin Walsh took on the role of Head of School in 2017-18. Prior to taking on the leadership role at NSA, she had a 15 year career in teaching and educational leadership with the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB). She was a coordinator for the Specialist High Skills Major Programs in the Pathways Department at the TCDSB Catholic Education Centre. She has extensive teaching and leadership experience in the areas of Guidance, Co-operative Education, Geography, Career Studies and Science. Over her career, Tobin has focused on and excelled at building relationships among stakeholders, developing partnerships, building community and the creation of engaging student learning opportunities to enhance student success. Tobin has been involved in the ski industry for close to 30 years, and along with her husband Paul, are members of Alpine Ski Club’s race crew. Their son Jasper is a budding U8 racer.