Off The Hill, Into The Mountains
While many Hopkins students this past winter were focused on perfecting their shots on the basketball courts, their swings in squash, or maybe even their breaststroke or diving form, there were a few Hilltoppers who took their athletic pursuits off of The Hill and onto much snowier, larger ones.
Two students that did just that were Erin Kelleher, and Charles Paraiso. Kelleher and Paraiso hit the slopes during as they continued their competitive careers in skiing and snowboarding, respectively.
Kelleher has found herself on a set of skis for almost all of her life. “I’ve been ski racing since I was about eight. That would be six years. But I’ve been skiing since I was two,” she said. This winter, she spent her time racing throughout Vermont at a high level. “I was able to attend the Vermont States for the past two years by placing high enough to be accepted. I went to Burke Mountain, Vermont and Stowe Mountain, Vermont, where I competed against the best of the best in Vermont,” she said.
While sports are just a pastime or hobby for some, for a few years of her life her passion for skiing intertwined itself with her academic life as well. “I attended Okemo Mountain School for four years, all of middle school. I would train for my ski races every morning and then go to school in the afternoon. OMS taught me how to use my time wisely, but most of all, the atmosphere was incredible. All my friends went, and I was able to do what I love while also staying educated,” Kelleher said.
Ski racing to Kelleher is more than just about competition, though, as she went on to add that she has “made some of my best friends through ski racing” and that ski racing “isn’t just about how you’re ranked, but the memories that will last you a lifetime.” She plans on continuing to ski through college, while staying at the level of competition she is currently at.
Charles Paraiso, an Alpine Snowboard racer, has been racing at an extremely high level for the past few years. He has been racing for “two years professionally, six years nationally.” Over his years of competing, he has found himself traveling all over the continent: “my race series moves around America and Canada.” Lately, Paraiso’s goals for his racing career have included “qualifying for World Cups and Junior World Championships.” Paraiso has a deep passion for snowboarding, and he considers there to be very few, if any, things in life to be better than hitting the slopes. “Whenever we have good snow, good hill space, and good people, there is no better feeling than riding a snowboard,” Paraiso said. Over the years , his favorite memories have been “traveling with my friends and competing against the fastest men around the world.” Despite his passion, Paraiso foresees a relatively close end to his snowboarding days. “I’m probably going to retire after this year if I’m honest,” Paraiso said. “Maybe in four years, after college, I’ll come back to it, but that’s to be decided.”
While much of the athletic focus at Hopkins centers around the athletes that directly represent our school, Kelleher and Paraiso are evidence that athletic excellence at Hopkins goes beyond what we watch on the fields or courts after school or what we hear about in Assembly. Although they may not represent Hopkins by donning the maroon and grey during contests, they represent a vital part of our athletics program and show that The Hill is home to just as much individual excellence as it is team excellence.