Steamboat Springs Andy LeRoy will celebrate his 31st birthday Saturday in fitting fashion -- coaching what he's calling a "farewell camp" for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's Alpine Ability Program in Mammoth, Calif.
The Steamboat native, who grew up competing with the Winter Sports Club and returned in 2003 to coach its Alpine program, is leaving July 1 to become the University of Denver's head Alpine ski coach.
"Steamboat has given me everything in the past three years," LeRoy said about his time leading the club's post-graduate Alpine program and helping coach the youth ability program. "I'll miss driving the mile and a half to the mountain, but I'm excited to look at skiing as more of a team sport and atmosphere. Everyone's very uplifting concerning where the (DU) program sits and its bright future. It's a good opportunity."
As a member of the U.S. Ski Team at the 1998 Winter Olympics and as a former first-team All-American at the University of Colorado -- where he won an individual national slalom championship and the CU Athlete of the Year award -- LeRoy knows what it takes to win at the elite NCAA level.
"One of the strengths Andy has is that he's excited all the time," Winter Sports Club Alpine director Chris Puckett said. "He's one of the main motivators in terms of his enthusiasm and rapport with the athletes. He can relate to them. ... He has experience with (the college) age group as an athlete, he's on top of the equipment and technique changes, and he will definitely get respect for his technical knowledge."
Rick DeVos, executive director of the Winter Sports Club, agreed that LeRoy was the club's top technical coach. It was why the club honored LeRoy as its Alpine Coach of the Year this year.
"I gave up the sport five years ago because it started taking a toll on my body," LeRoy said. "It was the right decision. I became a coach and started having more fun than the kids I coached, and I'm still having fun."
The University of Denver also is ready to welcome LeRoy into its storied ski program -- one that boasts the nation's most NCAA championship titles.
"Andy is the perfect candidate to continue our rich and proud skiing tradition," said Peg Bradley-Doppes, DU's director of athletics and recreation. "He is a winner, national champion and Olympian. Andy has the passion, experience and sense of commitment to lead the DU skiing to national prominence."
-- To reach Dave Shively, call 846-1129 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org