Members of the Steamboat Springs High School Class of 2013 throw their caps at the end of the graduation ceremony Saturday.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Members of the Steamboat Springs High School Class of 2013 throw their caps at the end of the graduation ceremony Saturday.

Steamboat Springs High School Class of 2013 told to 'enjoy the ride'

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See a list of Steamboat Springs High School Class of 2013 scholarship recipients here.

Recently retired Steamboat Springs Olympian Johnny Spillane shared his life lessons with the Class of 2013 during its graduation ceremony Saturday.

After all, if students are looking to learn from someone’s life lessons, there is no one better than Spillane, who struggled at the sport of Nordic combined when he started at age 12 but would go on to become the first American to win a World Championship and to medal at the Olympics.

Spillane told the students about the hardships and failures he encountered during his storied career. He recalled the 2002 Olympics, when the U.S. placed fourth in the team event, just shy of the podium. It is hard to get fourth place, he said. Everyone was disappointed.

“We learned the sun always rises the next day,” Spillane said.

A few days later, the team regrouped, and in 2003, Spillane won the country’s first world championship.

Spillane said the students sitting in front of him also would face adversity as they experience adulthood.

“How you respond will define you as a person,” Spillane said.

Spillane concluded his graduation speech with four pieces of advice for the 136 graduates. He told them to pursue their dreams, to not be afraid of failure and to not let the bad days get them down.

“And finally, enjoy the ride,” Spillane said.

Distinguished speaker Jessica Wallace echoed some of the things Spillane talked about.

“Do not fear setbacks or challenges,” she said. “You already know they are a part of life.”

The two other distinguished speakers were Hannah Bashan and Suzanne Lyon.

Guerin Lewis, who occasionally can be seen and heard playing his guitar on the downtown sidewalks, performed a song he wrote titled “Future Defined.”

The Class of 2013 is headed in various directions. Four are headed into the military, and many are going directly to college.

The class received a total of $1.2 million in merit-based scholarships. They received $419,728 for their first year of college.

On Wednesday night, students were awarded 141 local scholarships for a total of $134,892.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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