A local snowboarding coach splits his time between his home in Burlington, his job in Toronto and his passion for coaching competitive snowboarding in Blue Mountain, and he doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.
For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood we spoke with Hans Schroeder, 49, snowboarding coach with Jozo Weider Race Club.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in London, Ontario.
I went to Barrie for a few years for college and then went to Toronto for a few years to start working. I went back to college in Toronto and during that time I started coaching snowboarding at Milton Heights Race Club in Glen Eden.
I moved the program to Horseshoe Valley Resort for a few years. At that time, I moved to Burlington where I’ve lived ever since.
I’ve been at Blue Mountain for the past five years now, at the Jozo Weider Race Club.
Q: Have you always skied and snowboarded?
A: I was skiing back in my early teens. There was no snowboarding back then. When snowboarding came along, it was a natural transition for me. I was looking for something a little bit different.
The snowboards back then, you could only buy from Canadian Tire and they didn’t have steel edges, so we weren’t allowed on ski hills yet. It took a year or two before they came out with steel edges.
I hung out with my buddies snowboarding at that time.
In my mid-20s was when I started instructing, and quickly got into coaching.
I have family in Austria and I participated in a snowboard cross event there. I thought it was amazing, and we had to do this in Canada. Shortly after, events started happening in Canada and I really got into it.
Q: What made you want to be a coach?
A: When you’re an instructor, you may only see the kids for a season or a weekend.
With coaching, I’m with the same kids year after year to watch them progress and grow. That was a big aspect of it for me.
When I was first getting into coaching in the Milton Heights program, I noticed coaches would stick around for a year and transition out. I thought they needed someone to stick around year after year. I was there for between 10 and 15 years.
When I moved to Blue Mountain, they didn’t have a competitive snowboard team at that time.
Q: Why did you decide to move to the Jozo Weider Race Club five years ago?
A: I went there because they didn’t have a team. The executive director of Snowboard Ontario really wanted me there to help build the team.
They really were eager to get a program going.
We started with a handful of athletes and now there are about 20 athletes each year. I think we could have more but we’re limited because there are few coaches.
We have FIS (Federation of International Skiing) athletes that compete all over the world.
Q: You were recently presented with the province’s most prestigious coaching honour, a 2023 Ontario Coaching Excellence Award. How did you feel when you heard?
A: I was completely surprised. It was very exciting.
I felt really proud and humble at the same time.
To think that all the effort and hard work I put in was getting noticed... it’s quite amazing to think this is how people think of me.
Q: What does the future hold for you in your coaching career?
A: I’ve been doing the commute for five years. I live in Burlington, I have a full-time job at a hospital in Toronto and coach on top of that on weekends and during the week. I spend a lot of time travelling.
I’ll be sticking with Blue for a few years for sure. They’re very supportive and helpful.
Right now, I’m the only coach on public hills. The majority of coaches in Ontario are at private clubs.
Although I have had opportunities at private clubs, I want to remain on the public side.
I’d like to take a few more courses to get a higher certification.
Q: Is there anything else you want people in Collingwood to know about you?
A: If you love snowboarding and you’re in the Collingwood area and you want something more, come check us out. The competitive stream is a great way to continue progress and learning.
There are snowboarders that take a few lessons and they don’t know where to go after that.
Sometimes, they want more.
For our feature People of Collingwood, we speak with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature runs on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email [email protected].