By Damon Markiewicz

Springfield College junior psychology major Hunter Bernard recently had the incredible opportunity to represent the United States and compete at the 2023 International University Sports Federation World University Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. The games are the largest global competition for college students, and known worldwide as the Olympics for college students.

Bernard showcased the Springfield College Ski and Snowboard Team in front of 26 different countries competing in snowboarding events. His presence at the games reinforced the resurgence of the ski and snowboard club on campus, a growth that has seen the program double in size just over the last year.

“We had 16 members on the team last year, and this year we are up to around 34 people on the team,” said Bernard, who highlighted that it was the help of current graduate student Jack Reetz ’22, who helped bring the team back after several years of the club being dormant.

Reetz, along with co-club president Meghan Driscoll, met with Springfield College Club Sports Director Tom Verrico, who encouraged the pair to help bring the club back prior to the 2021-22 academic year.

“Overall, it really is a great club, we have so much fun competing with each other, and having this club sport on campus is one of the main reasons I decided to come to Springfield College,” explained Bernard.

Springfield College junior psychology major Hunter Bernard talks about what makes the ski and snowboard team so special.

Prior to his time on Alden Street, Bernard was contemplating trying out for the United States National Snowboard Team. He started snowboarding around the time he was seven years old, and started competing at the age of 13 years old.

Bernard has competed throughout Europe and North American, but the experience at this year’s World University Games had a different meaning.

“I’ve traveled and competed a lot before, but this is the first time I had the opportunity to wear the red, white, and blue,” added Bernard.

While competing at the World University Games, Bernard finished 18th in the slalom and 26th in the giant slalom. However, his experience at the games was not just about results, but more of loving his time there. Although he hit the slopes of Gore Mountain, which is an hour from Lake Placid, Bernard still had the chance to feel the history of Lake Placid.

“I had the opportunity to go to the opening ceremony of the event, which was a super cool experience,” said Bernard. “To walk along the ice rink where the ‘Miracle On Ice’ happened, it was special, so much history there.”

Now that the World University Games have concluded, Bernard is back to contributing to the club on campus, and he will continue to assist with the growth of the team.

“Hunter has been a certified coach for numerous years, and his advice across the board is what helped our club take off last year,” added Reetz, who stressed the importance of having the club available to all. “We want the club to be open to anybody interested in snow sports whatsoever. It would help if you’ve skied or snowboarded before, prior to joining the club, but we want to open this up to anyone who’s interested.”

Bernard’s coaching experience allows him to feel very comfortable with the leadership roles he is tasked with. 

“I love being in a leadership role, and I have so much knowledge because I have been in this field a very long time,” added Bernard. “It’s really rewarding for me to pass on my knowledge to these younger skiers and snowboarders.”

While not only being a great leader for the younger snowboarders on the team, Bernard is a very talented snowboarder himself. For Bernard, it was also an opportunity to learn from other snowboarders. 

“Being with riders that are on their country’s national team, and guys that have World Cup starts, it was a really cool opportunity to be with those athletes,” concluded Bernard.