Zach, Hiliary and Bethany Neal know how to do the “snow dance,” and while most people are trying to find comfort by a fire or under a warm blanket when the air turns frigid, the Neal siblings are preparing to hit the slopes.
Zach, 17, Hiliary, 15, and Bethany, 13, of
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Hiliary said one reason she enjoys being part of the Grafton Ski Bums is because it gives her siblings and her a chance to bond.
“It’s really important because it’s a family activity,” she said.
“I was just looking down the hill, and I just kept going down. It’s exciting to be out there,”
Their father, Jeff Neal, used to ski until an accident on the slopes left him with a broken shoulder. Despite that, he is not nervous that his children take to the slopes for 12 Sundays during the winter months with the club.
“They enjoy the challenging hills. Zach is a daredevil, and he can do skateboarding tricks (on the snowboard), and so can
The Grafton Ski Bums are supervised by George Bates and David DiVencenzo. The organization has been around for more than 30 years. Last year, almost 80 students signed on — up from the average of about 70.
Bates, a retired physical education teacher from the Midview Schools, travels to local schools to inform teachers and staff members of the opportunity for students to join.
“It’s a community-type organization. We operate it like a school group, but it’s not affiliated with the schools,” Bates said. “Anybody who wants to ski can join us. We go and have fun.”
The Grafton Ski Bums includes students from Midview, Keystone,
“It’s really the greater
And since the club has stood the test of time, DiVencenzo said the club is now seeing second generations of skiers and snowboarders. In fact, DiVencenzo’s children — Anthony, Delaina, Daniel and Dominic — have all followed in their father’s ski tracks and joined.
“I was in ski club and have been helping George for seven years. A lot of kids I used to ski with now have children who are now in Grafton Ski Bums,” DiVencenzo said.
A few of the club’s favorite locations are Brandywine/Boston Mills Ski Resort in the
“I have met a lot of people in ski club — when you get on top of a mountain, it’s so beautiful, it’s almost spiritual,” Bates said.