Locals 2012: Jake Barker
June 29, 2012
Howelsen Hill always will be Jake Barker's second home.
Sitting at the base of the hill's dormant ski jumps in early June, the Steamboat Springs High School graduate estimates that he has spent a quarter of his life skiing and playing at the city park.
"I'm excited to come back here in five years and see how the young kids who are in training now have grown," he says. "This is the coolest place ever. I was down here almost every day during the school year."
Jake, a lifelong Steamboat resident, will leave the Yampa Valley in the fall to study at Middlebury College in Vermont. He may be stepping away from his familiar "paradise," but the 18-year-old says he'll just have to take Steamboat with him to the East Coast.
"I want to take part of my community with me wherever I go," he says. "Whether it's with my Moots bike or my Fischer Nordic skis, I want to take the experiences I've had in this town with me."
Jake skied for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and his high school's Nordic and Alpine ski teams. He also graduated summa cum laude and earned the 4.2 GPA he needed to address his classmates during his high school's graduation ceremony.
Steamboat Springs High School Principal Kevin Taulman says his campus graduates several students like Jake each year who master athletics and academics. Still, Taulman says Jake's name jumped out of the list of 2012 graduates.
"He just embodies Steamboat," Taulman says. "He's a good small-town kid. He's generous. He's caring. He took rigorous courses and still excelled at sports. And yet he's humble."
Now Jake hopes Vermont will offer him as many opportunities as Steamboat did.
"Hopefully, I can get a taste of everything while I'm there," he says. "The key to Steamboat is you almost have to leave it to realize how much you appreciate how much it has affected you and defined you as a person."