So many positives come to mind when we reflect on Taylor’s past two years at NSA. Not only did she get to fulfil her dream of skiing at the FIS level, but she did so in an atmosphere of accomplishment, excellence, support, enjoyment and, most of all, balance. We knew that skiing at this level was demanding and stressful and we learned that graduating from high school is equally stressful and demanding. Doing both at NSA in such a well-coordinated program allowed Taylor to do her very best in each area while maintaining positive mental health. Those are her words. We expected a strong fitness and ski program and we were not disappointed. The positive surprise for us was the extremely high quality of the academic program and teaching staff. Taylor leaves NSA with skills, friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
We are absolutely thrilled with the level of education at NSA – and moreover – the extra time, work and patience all of the teachers put in to ensure the students excel. Maddy could not have done as well in school and absolutely could not have continued skiing at a high level anywhere else. Her education at NSA has opened up a world of choices as she moves toward post-secondary education! Thank you to all of the teachers, staff and coaches!!
Working at NSA is a joy because the flexible structure and small size allow me to spend considerable time really getting to know each student. This ensures that the students get the individualized academic support and guidance needed to navigate high school and make appropriate and thoughtful post-secondary choices.
We enrolled our daughter in NSA hoping for her to find a balance between her love of skiing and her academics. What we found there was so much more than we expected. The small class sizes provide excellent and individualized academic opportunities. The faculty is always approachable and work to encourage valuable time management skills. The daily athletic component is so important in not only the development of excellent skiers but also instilling healthy lifestyle and habits in young teens. We loved that she travelled to international destinations to pursue her passion, all the while forging bonds with like-minded friends. While she ultimately discovered that skiing was not her only passion and left the school for the FIS years, we are so thankful for the learning and the opportunities that NSA provided. As the mother of a young girl at a boarding school, I was most thankful for the loving and supportive environment created by Tobin and the rest of the staff. We are so happy to have been part of NSA’s family.
Thank-you for an amazing guest experience for my son Brody. NSA did an incredible job right from the start with logistics, coaching, off hill activities and inclusion with NSA’s athletes. I highly recommend this opportunity! A summer to remember for sure.
As a now-retired ski racer, being a student athlete throughout high school was one of the most valuable experiences I could have had in preparation for post-secondary education. Without National Ski Academy, I would have unfortunately had to quit ski racing earlier in high school, to focus on my academic success. However, the scheduling and small, accommodating class sizes at NSA made it easy to excel, even while taking on a full-time sport. The teachers were always available for support, and being able to truly get to know each of them was such a unique and special experience. My peers were all like-minded, hard-working individuals who helped each other succeed. Not to mention, many turned into friendships I still value today. NSA challenged me in numerous ways: physically, academically, and mentally. This experience allowed me to build the learning skills that have helped me succeed so far in the selective, rigorous Queen’s University Health Sciences program, where I am working toward my dream of becoming a physician. Everyone tells you that the time-management skills you will need for university will be a shock to the system. However, I found the adjustment to be seamless after managing dry-land, training, races, class, homework, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Developing a strong work ethic at NSA has truly helped me succeed, and I know it will help me throughout the course of my life. I cannot thank all of the teachers and staff members enough for believing in my dreams and pushing me to be my best self every day. My experience at NSA is one I will hold with me forever.
National Ski Academy provides an accommodating environment for those who want to thrive academically and athletically. With the help of coaches and staff during my four years at the academy, I was able to reach my goals in ski racing, live alongside my friends, and successfully move on to the University of British Columbia for Kinesiology. I learned the importance of self-discipline during my time at NSA, giving me a successful transition to university, alongside reinforcing crucial life skills which I use when moving on to new challenges. I will always cherish the memories, lessons, and skills that NSA has provided.
Our priority for our daughter has always been ensuring she receives an excellent education. We also wanted to encourage her to pursue ski racing throughout high school, but only if this meant her education would not be compromised. At NSA, our daughter truly got the best of both worlds: academic success in her crucial final years of high school, and memories from an excellent ski racing program. She was able to complete academically rigorous courses while travelling across the world for training and racing. This balance of skiing and school would not have been possible or so excellently accommodated for anywhere else. Her unique experience helped her to get into her dream undergraduate program, and her teachers at NSA truly helped push her towards her goal of becoming a doctor. NSA has left a permanent imprint on our daughter, and the valuable lessons, friends, and experiences she had will stick with her forever. Thank-you NSA!
I joined National Ski Academy in grade 9 and now I’m in grade 12 in my graduating year. This year, I was selected to be on the Ontario Ski Team. NSA has allowed me to excel in academics and athletics, all while travelling the world to pursue my passion for ski racing. One of the best things about National Ski Academy is that whether you are racing or training, you do not miss any school or classes. The entire academic schedule is coordinated around the ski calendar. This year in particular, NSA has gone above and beyond for me to customize a unique academic program which accommodates my Ontario Ski Team schedule which is different from all other athletes in the Academy. I would not have been able to achieve my goal of racing for the Ontario Ski Team as a student in grade 12 if it were not for NSA. No matter where I am or how challenging my racing and training schedule is, the teachers and staff at NSA are always available to work with me to support my academic goals. After graduating in June, I plan to study engineering or commerce and NSA is helping me with the entire postsecondary application process. National Ski Academy is an incredibly unique place. I could not have been as successful as both an elite level athlete or student without NSA. The last four years at National Ski Academy have been some of the best of my life.
I graduated from National Ski Academy in 2019. I am currently at Western University studying and specializing in Clinical Kinesiology. My time at NSA was definitely an unforgettable experience, I met some of my best friends and was able to travel the world while still pursuing my athletic and academic goals. This prepared me really well both for my university academics and for student living. I’m really grateful for all of the opportunities offered at NSA and I hope that you take advantage of these opportunities as well and that you make the most of your experience.
Not only it was a big deal to let our daughter Alice, only 15 at the time, move from Geneva, Switzerland to Canada, but also to change her academic education from the bilingual International Baccalaureate to the Canadian high school diploma and add a huge element of skiing. NSA was definitely a perfect fit for Alice. The small classes and attentive staff allowed her to skip a grade after a week of attending classes (as the curriculum was different, she had already covered a lot of the grade 10 classes), very accommodating. The training and races program is simply amazing: coaches, nutrition, fitness… We were very proud that Alice graduated from NSA, after two intense years, and with her excellent results managed to get in to Boston University.
For a young person passionate about skiing, National Ski Academy is the perfect environment academically, socially and athletically. The education that students receive at the Academy prepares them to reach their goals. A supportive environment surrounds the students. If someone needs extra help, a teacher or peer steps up and makes sure that no one is left behind. Conversely, if an individual excels in an area, they are given tasks that encourage more advanced learning. The culmination being a personalized academic plan. The education continues beyond the classroom. The support staff, coaches and fellow student-athletes round out a caring, close-knit community always encouraging the best version of each other.
Particularly evident in our experience was the individualized focus. The interplay and balance required to produce a successful student-athlete can only happen when the people behind the scenes go out of their way to meet specific needs. NSA was able to coordinate a challenging Ontario Ski Team schedule with the final year of school. Plans were moving targets, and the school moved with them. The staff always made themselves wholly available, and the result was a successful navigation of university applications, final courses, and graduation!
I graduated from National Ski Academy in 2017. My time there was everything that I hoped it would be. It pushed me to excel in both my academics and my athletics, it allowed me to travel the world and meet some lifelong friends. It also helped me achieve my goal of racing on the Ontario Ski Team. From there, I transitioned to the McGill Varsity Ski Team where I’m currently completing my degree in Bio-Engineering. Going forward, I wish all current and future students’ good luck on their endeavours and I wish I could be right there with them doing it all over again.
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.
Tomás “Tomi” Rivas is an alpine ski coach with 12 years of experience coaching alpine and a strong background in sports psychology and kinesiology. Tomás is Chilean and has experience coaching at a variety of levels from FIS to U10 in the US, Chile, and Argentina. Prior to NSA, he was the U14 Head Coach with Big Sky Ski Education Foundation in Montana. In addition to his experience coaching alpine, he has a Bachelors in Kinesiology which is complemented by his master’s studies in Sports Psychology. This education gives him the tools to work as part of an integrated support team to help athletes reach both alpine and mental performance goals. “I am really looking forward to returning to NSA’s coaching staff and am excited to continue work with the FIS athletes. I am an avid supporter of academic excellence because I believe it is a key component of athlete development and I hope to support NSA athletes in their high-performance pursuits as well as their academic ones.”
Will joins NSA as a Men’s FIS Coach. 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 joins NSA as a Women’s FIS Coach. 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”.
Fabrizio Cavallari joins NSA as a Women’s FIS Coach. He is an Italian Certified Level III Tech. and Speed Coach and brings with him a wealth of experience from the international ski community. As founder and Head Coach of Skitime International, based in Hintertux, Austria, Fabrizio has coached athletes of all levels. Over the last 30 years, his focus has been on FIS athletes; training in Italy, Austria, and Argentina; and competing in Italy and other venues in Europe and North America. He is fluent in English, Italian, German and Spanish. Fabrizio’s extensive experience includes coaching speed disciplines (SG, Downhill) and he has graduated athletes from Europa Cup to the Italian National Team. Jeff Jones, our Program Director, adds “Fabrizio has an impressive level of experience and work ethic, a strong belief in developing athletes, and a great sense of humour”.
This is Chef Zak’s third year keeping NSA’s community well fed. 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!
This is Robert’s fourth year taking care of NSA’s heritage home, Tornavene which was built in 1893. 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.
This is Alex’s fifth year at NSA. 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.
This is Carol’s fifth year at NSA. 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.