This winter marks the 20th anniversary for Sugar Bowl Academy (SBA), an 8th-12th grade independent college preparatory boarding and day school designed for competitive skiers. SBA’s founder, Tricia Hellman Gibbs, was inspired to create a ski academy where student-athletes could pursue their passion for high-level skiing while receiving an excellent education.
SBA has grown significantly in 20 years. With an initial graduating class of three students, SBA now has over 140 graduates and 75 full-year student-athletes. As the only ski academy in the country with ski-in and ski-out facilities, its location in the Village of Sugar Bowl is truly unique. After a successful capital campaign in 2014, SBA built a new residence hall for 31 boarding students and a state-of-the-art academic building. In addition, students have access to Sporthaus, a 10,000 sq. foot gym, for strength, conditioning, and recovery work.
Sugar Bowl Academy’s graduates have gone on to race in the Winter Olympics, for the US Ski Team, US Cross Country Team, and competed on the World Junior Freeride Tour. SBA’s graduates frequently ski for NCAA Division 1 college and universities as well as club teams. Equally weighted with their athletic success, SBA’s graduates are well prepared for college. The Academy offers a comprehensive college preparatory program and is the only ski academy to offer AP classes. Ryan Aldrich, Head of School, commented, “One of the special qualities and a core part of the mission of this Academy is that student-athletes can pursue both their athletic and academic dreams without having to sacrifice one for the other. We take pride in the individualized support our staff provides our student-athletes during the winter when travel is at its peak. Our student-athletes learn how to manage their time well, advocate for themselves, and develop a stronger sense of agency in owning their learning by the time they graduate.”
SBA alumni Riley Plant, a 2018 Middlebury College graduate and former captain of Middlebury’s alpine ski team, reflected on his SBA experience, “By intertwining academics, athletics, and the outdoors, students naturally become well-rounded, wholesome people. I am now six years post-grad and thank SBA for a large part of my life fulfillment – the program taught me to see challenges as opportunities arise and conquer, rather than turn and run.”
Recently, the Board of Trustees and senior leadership completed a ten-month strategic planning process, which revitalized the organization’s mission statement, developed core values, and created the vision statement “To be recognized as the gold standard for ski teams and ski academies.” “It’s an exciting time to be a part of SBA,” commented Ryan Aldrich, “this is an incredible place to work and we are excited about the vision for the next 20 years.”