Ted Theyerl’s extraordinary legacy in the Wisconsin ski community will continue to impact skiers, coaches, and parents for years to come.
First and foremost, Ted, along with the help of a small handful of dedicated parents, started Chippewa Valley Nordic (CVN), one of the newer ski clubs in Wisconsin. CVN attended races around the state with 4 skiers in its first year (2007). Due to Ted’s dedication over the course of 15 years, CVN has grown tremendously. Today, CVN has 58 (!) registered skiers.
In addition to his contributions with CVN, Ted has also volunteered on the board of the local club – the Eau Claire Ski Striders – and has played a major role in countless projects including building the ski chalet at Tower Ridge, and growing the clubs’ youth ski program ‘Kick’n Kids’, which now has over 200 skiers registered.
Ted also served as WNSL President for a very important term, and currently serves as the leader of the US Club Skiing Association in the midwest, where he has worked tirelessly to promote collegiate ski racing opportunities in the wake of many schools dropping their NCAA ski teams.
While Ted’s accomplishments are impressive, anyone who knows Ted will agree that he is simply one of the kindest humans you will meet. He seemingly knows everybody, and will take the time to shake hands and shoot the breeze with other coaches, parents, old skiing buddies, and alumni. His kindness has had a profound contribution on our ski community, and his influence shines on race days when competing coaches cheer for each other’s teams, share wax tips, and celebrate each other’s successes. For these reasons and many more, we are incredibly grateful to Ted for his service over the years, and are proud to name him the 2022 WNSL Hall of Fame Coach of the Year.
Jim and Diane Mullen
Jim and Diane Mullen have been involved with youth and high level athletics for a number of decades. Jim began his coaching career at the tender age of 14 when he was volunteered as the only member of his family with soccer skills and history who could coach his younger brothers’ youth soccer team. Jim was also a collegiate soccer player at UW Madison, as a captain, and later serving as a referee and coach. As if that wasn’t enough, he also was a member of the National Speed Skating team from the 1970’s until 1984 training and competing with Eric and Beth Heiden, among others. He later was inducted into the Wisconsin and Madison Soccer Hall of Fame.
His medical degree in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation allowed him to relocate to the snowy Northwoods of Minocqua after retiring from skating and being introduced to Nordic skiing by a close friend. He became enthused by the local opportunities as he and Diane began to ski, train, and make skiing connections. As Jim’s grandfather was an Athletic Director and coached three sports at Carlton College, his urge to coach runs deep. Soon he and Diane were hosting training “get togethers” in their backyard, couples, singles, and families were all included.
As their children, Keegan and Kieran came along, the training group continued and enlarged, changing locations and gaining a wide local following. When the boys became old enough for organized sports, cross country skiing was part of the mix. While Jim was there, he also continued the level of training that allowed him to remain in the Elite Wave of the Birkie, currently going on his 27th. Diane continued her commitment to coaching moving from elementary to middle school and by the time the boys were in high school, Jim was onboard.
With an exceptional eye for technique, Jim was always available to help small groups and especially individuals, not only in ski season, but also during dryland.
In 2014 he became Lakeland Nordic Ski Team’s Head Coach, with Diane stepping into a combination role of Assistant Coach/Manager/Team Psychologist, Head Coach sounding board and reminder of all things pertinent and sometimes overlooked.
Jim and Diane count among their competitive coaching accomplishments individual champions, top ten placings at state for both boys and girls, team championships, and team podiums. However, what they are most proud of is their commitment to the whole athlete, helping young skiers enjoy and understand the benefits of our sport, and fueling the motivation for many of their skiers to continue skiing into college at both team and club levels.
Jim also started the CXC Igor Camps as part of his legacy of innovation and desire to raise skills in a fun environment for young skiers. With both Jim and Diane attaining Level 200 Coaching Certification, they also were involved in their own professional ski coaching development. Today, Jim continues to give back as the Level 100 presenter for new and coaches certification in the Midwest region as he has for the past six years. Together they have given much to the sport of Wisconsin High School Nordic Skiing and are worthy inductees in the Coaching Hall of Fame.
Randy and Vicki Larson
Doug has been involved in education, youth leadership and athletics for over three decades. He coached College Cross Country skiing in the early 90’s at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. He then moved to northern Wisconsin where he started a Nordic ski club at the Ashland High School in 1997 as well as an informal club for area adult skiers. When interest in youth skiing started to grow around the Chequamegon Bay, he started a program through 4H in Ashland and Bayfield counties that would incorporate leadership, community building and volunteerism through skiing. 4H works with the interests and talents of adult leaders and gives them the training and support to work with youth.
Doug collaborated with those interested adults and 4H Canski (Chequamegon Area Nordic) began in 2004. While Doug was the catalyst for the club, he has found and inspired the people power to make it expand and grow to meet the community’s needs. This is a great talent that Doug has as a coach and leader; he prepares and inspires others to get involved! 4H-CANSKI has grown to include 150 members from Kindergarten through adults. It has a High School racing program, recreational program and works with 3 school districts (as a club sport) to provide skis and regular skiing opportunities to Elementary youth. The High School Boys Team won the State Championship in 2014. Doug also started a biathlon program through 4H-CANSKI.
To ensure that economic means would not be a barrier to youth participation, Doug wrote grants and spent countless hours repairing donated gear in order to create a supply of skis of all sizes and styles so that 4hCanski members can check out gear for a minimal fee during the ski season.
Doug is not only an experienced HS and College coach with Level 200 certification and US Biathlon Association certification, but also a Master’s level educator. Therefore, coaching through 4H-CANSKI has an educational as well as athletic focus. 4H-CANSKI programs involve the 4H values of Head, Heart, Hands and Health through developing belonging, mastery, generosity and independence. Through the fun and healthy lifelong sport of Nordic skiing, youth develop all of those skills. Many 4H-CANSKI skiers have returned to help coach, started clubs at their colleges or in their communities and continue to ski themselves. They leave 4H-CANSKI with the skills and knowledge to enjoy skiing and to give back to their ski communities wherever they are. Doug has also given back to the ski community by serving on the Executive Committee for the WNSL.
Club members help maintain and groom area ski trails, volunteer to teach youth and community members skiing, wax and help maintain the club’s rental gear, and support local community events such as the Book Across the Bay. If you watch Doug work with young people or people of any age, you see the positive energy, high expectations and joyful fun he brings to every practice and event. He empowers youth to challenge themselves, stay healthy and serve their communities.
Robert and Karen Cook
This year’s recipient of the Coaches Hall of Fame Award is the Rhinelander husband and wife team of Robert and Karen Cook.
Bob and Karen initiated the first Bill Koch Ski League in Rhinelander, and later as their kids moved into High School, started as volunteers with the Rhinelander High School Team in 1994, spending just over 20 years dedicated to the team and the sport of high school nordic skiing. Their contributions to the sport did not stop with the high school team, but carried over into numerous other areas.
Together they served as coaches, trip leaders or wax technicians to 10 separate USSA Midwest Division teams, became USSA technical delegates, and have worked or volunteeredd at numerous Junior National, Senior National, Scando Cup and Olympic events. They truly have made a lifetime commitment to the sport skiing, not just high school skiing.
Bob and Karen have also been very generous with all the knowledge and expertise they have accumulated over the years. Having been fortunate enough to having prepped skis along side them a few times, I personally know what great ambassadors they are to all the people they meet along the way.
Mary Eloranta was nominated and selected for the Coaches Hall of Fame because she truly exemplifies what a Nordic Ski Coach should be, both by her interaction with her athletes as a coach and the example she sets by her own love of sports and competition. She is a Nordic Head Coach in a sport dominated by men and as such is truly an asset to our sport and especially a great role model to both the boys and girls she coaches. We also see her as a role model for other coaches because of her beliefs in nurturing skiers (the ones that come with no prior skiing experience and those who excel) and her sense of fair play. She has excelled in her role as coach over the years and truly deserves her peer’s recognition.
Mary’s many accomplishments started way back in HS/College and continue to this day. Here are some highlights she shared:
- Began skiing in high school, wood skis, through the fields and woods. No prepared tracks to be found.
- Attended UW Madison/4 year Varsity Letter winner/Captain of the Women’s’ Crew Team/Rowed on the 1975 Women’s National Championship Crew team/ Graduated in 1977 with a Masters in Wildlife Ecology
- Skied throughout college with rowing teammates and continued to ski post collegiate with family and friends.(Craziest thing – When we heard about this new technique called “skating” we knew it was done on shorter skis – so we cut off the tips and tails of our skis and started skiing on snowmobile trails. Proved ineffective, but death defying! Skied first Birkie in 1992 and was hooked (22nd Birkie this year). Many other accomplishments in racing locally and at the World Masters.
- Began coaching in 2000 for Waukesha West HS Ski Team – a club sport within the school • Was instrumental in its Reorganization into Peak Nordic (nonprofit 501c3 in 2008) as skiers from other schools were turned away by WW. Peak Nordic was created to accept all area skiers regardless of experience or ability.
- In 15 years of coaching we have strived to teach kids to LOVE to ski, to have fun, and to become lifelong skiers. Along the way we have developed some fast skiers, placed our teams fairly consistently in the top 3, and produced a couple of state champions. However what I am most proud of is our alumni skiers who now blow by me at the Birkie and chime out “HI Coach Mary” as they sail by and our many alumni who are working as coaches on both the collegiate and club levels. Why, because we have instilled a desire to not only love this sport but to give back. That is success!
Rachel and Greg Kresse
The transition of Greg & Rachel Kresse from racers to skiers to coaches to managers of a youth ski programs occurred after they moved to Wausau in 1996. It took a couple years for Greg to get involved with the high school team, as he assisted Jim Gallagher until Jim’s retirement in 2000. Greg was quite persuasive, as he lured Jim to continue to co-coach with him through the early 2000s. There was always a role for Greg with the HS Team, as he was either a Co-head coach, a head coach, an assistant coach, or a mentor to the “young math teacher and former Green Bay collegiate skier, and the new Nordic coach Tracy Gorzek.
Rachel managed the logistics of the HS Team, until the new Head Coach was in place. When Tracy needed to take time away from coaching, Rachel was out talking up being a ski coach to Ben Koenig at his job at Rib Mountain Cycles. He either got tired of her pitch or convinced by it, but whichever it was, she helped recruit him to “be a coach” for the East/West Team. During the early 2000s, Rachel & Greg considered starting a middle school program in Wausau. They discovered history of a Wausau Nordic Ski Club Program called “The Night Gliders” which had existed, prior to their arrival in Wausau, but fizzled out as kids moved on to HS, and there were no coaches to coach the Night Gliders. Greg decided to start up the program around 2003, with about 6 middle school athletes; Rachel decided to start recruiting.
By 2004 that number went to around 15 athletes, then to 20, then to 25, then 30 and on up to the current 42 athletes that are Night Gliders for the 2013-14 season! Greg coaches HS two days a week and is Head Coach for the Night Gliders twice a week. Rachel’s recruiting/managing doesn’t just end with athletes and their families, but expands into finding people willing to help coach the Night Gliders. They admit they are very blessed to have the support of 11 volunteer coaches from the community, two of which are young adults returning to Wausau after college, both of which were East/ West HS skiers. Some recent comments and high lights: Chris Nichols commenting on his brother Matt’s collegiate skiing saying, “Well you know, Matt had one more year of Night Gliders than I had!” Or hearing that our US Ski Team Biathlete of 2012-13 Bill Bowler Junior remembers his Night Glider Days and never fails to ask how the current group is doing, or looking at Adam Martin’s 2008 State Meet middle school picture and thinking, “Wow, he is at the World Junior Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy right now!”
When asked their greatest success with these programs, they said it would be the continued contact they have with many of the athletes years after the coaching is over. It’s not just about the skiing, it’s the graduations, the weddings, the birth of children, the continued love of the sport that they may have helped instill as evidenced just last week when they see a new mom (former West HS skier) gliding down the trail who stops and says hello.
Don Fariss founded the Rhinelander Nordic Ski Racing program in 1984 when he moved to the Northwoods and began teaching Science at Rhinelander High School. Don coached the Rhinelander team from 1984-1988, including notable athletes such as Bryan Fish and Adam Swank. During this time, the team placed 2nd and 3rd in the State of Wisconsin Nordic Championships, an awesome accomplishment for a new program.
Don’s coaching style included innovated training methods, athletic motivation, and dedication to both team and individual needs. Although Don moved to the Madison area in 1986, he continued writing training plans and commuting to Rhinelander weekly during the ski season to coach the team. Don often went “an extra mile” for his athletes. One summer, Don provided a wood splitting job to one of his high school skiers that wanted to race the Kortelopet; the opportunity provide a workout, as well as a Kortelopet entry.
Don’s coaching career continued in Madison; he successfully coached the Nordic MadNorSki Program and the Lodi / Ice Age Nordic Team, and Don was a Midwest Junior National Team coach from 1989-1996 and was the head coach for the Midwest JN team from 1992-1996. Because of over 30 years of dedication to Nordic skiing, Don received the Outstanding Service Award from Madison Nordic Ski Club.
In addition to coaching, Don was active in numerous administrative roles including: Vice President Rhinelander Ski Club, President Madison Nordic Ski Club, and Midwest Junior Chairman. Currently, Don lives in Mount Horeb with his wife Jan.
The Wisconsin High School Nordic Ski League is proud to induct the 3rd high school coach into the Nordic High School Hall of Fame. This honor is bestowed on Lakeland Union High School’s long time coach, Ken Schoville.
Ken began his Nordic involvement in 1977 when he and a group of others began the Northwood’s Nordic Ski Club in the Eagle River Area. When Ken and his wife Pam, moved to Hazelhurst in 1978, he joined the Lakeland Ski Club and was instrumental in transforming Squirrel Hill into a Nordic Ski Touring Center operated through a non-profit foundation of which he was president for a number of years. Ken also had his hand in race organizing and was Race Director of the Governor’s Cup (now the Lakeland Loppett), The Dannon Cup, and two Super Series races. He presently is head of the trails committee and some of his past trail contributions can be seen in the base loop lights at Winter Park and more recently in the development of the Schlecht Lake trails.
His early coaching assignments were with his daughters in the Bill Koch League and progressed over the years to now encompass over 30 years of youth and high school coaching. He worked with Lakeland Union High School to make Nordic Skiing a recognized club sport with a letter. Schoville began the State Championships over 30 years ago with high school teacher Forest Coleman, with the first one being held at Minocqua Winter Park. He has since coached four state girls’ team champions in a row and has had one individual state girl’s champion and one individual state boy’s champion. He has been active in state and regional youth development which includes coaching at CXC/CODP level camps and taking Junior Olympic athletes to the Nationals several times as a volunteer coach. He was a founder of the Christmas Camp in Houghton, MI and continues to attend and coach athletes from throughout Wisconsin and Copper Country.
On the Administration side, Ken was President of the Wisconsin High School Nordic Ski League for many years – so many it’s hard to remember when he wasn’t president! He is without question a peer to admire. He has championed our sport for over 30 years and continues to do so today as evidenced by the location of this current State Meet. We are honored by his commitment and dedication and place him in the Coaches Hall of Fame as recognition of his life-time dedication to Nordic Skiing.
– Greg Kresse
The Wisconsin Nordic Ski League is proud to induct the late Judy Swank, from Rhinelander, into the Coaches Hall of Fame. Judy died in February 2009 from ovarian cancer after battling it for three years. Judy coached the Rhinelander High School Ski Team for almost twenty years, and she also immersed herself in many community projects: a founding members of the Rhinelander Area Silent Trails Association, Vice-president of the Oneida County Biking and Walking Trails Council, and advocate for the Perch Lake Four Seasons Shelter. That shelter now bears her name. Judy’s volunteerism reflects on her character and integrity.
Judy co-authored, with Jim Gallagher, the first By-Laws of the WI High School Nordic Ski League and served two years as its president. During her tenure, Judy emphasized the importance of local and community support for middle school and high schools athletes of all skill and development levels throughout the state.
Judy was a dedicated and successful coach. Her program welcomed all athletes, no matter what their abilities, to be a part of the TEAM, to compete, and to have fun skiing. The Rhinelander boys team won the Wisconsin State High School Cross Country Ski Championships in 1990, 1993, 1999, and 2003; and, a girls team won in 2003. Six boys and one girl on her teams claimed individual State Champion honors. Many of Judy’s athletes excelled beyond high school, over seven athletes earned scholarships to compete at the collegiate level.
One of the greatest compliments to any coach is to have an athlete also become a coach, and Judy had more than one. For example, Brian Fish, after graduating from UW-Green Bay became the head coach of the Rhinelander Nordic Ski Team, then moved on to become head coach of CXC Elite Team, and is now on the coaching staff of the US Ski Team. Other highlights include skiers who competed at the Olympic level, including Todd Craig and Chris Cook.
The Wisconsin High School Nordic Ski League, Inc. is proud to induct its first Coach into the Nordic High School Coaches Hall of Fame. This honor is being bestowed on Wausau’s own Jim Gallagher. The foundation of the Wausau East/West Nordic Ski Team was built on the shoulders of Jim Galllagher in the mid to late 70s when it was started as a club sport at Wausau West. Jim was a math teacher at the time and was approached by several students to coach them because he knew how to ski. Club skiing was just a few outings to various areas like the Underdown Ski Trails north of Merrill, where in most cases you made/broke your own trail. By the mid 80s the team was solid and Jim’s own sons were participants on the team. Practices started the second week in November and didn’t end until the final meet in early March. Jim and his wife Nancy were unpaid volunteer coaches through all of these early years. The Wausau School District raised the sport to Varsity level in 1997, but only if Jim agreed to still coach without pay. It wasn’t until 1998 that he received a salary the same as other varsity coaches.
Jim’s boys’ team won the State High School Cross Country Ski Championship in 1986, 1988, 1989, 1994, and 1995. His girls’ team brought home state championships in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998. Three team members won the individual state championship under his coaching. He also saw 9 of his skiers earn Division 1, full tuition scholarships to compete in cross country skiing. In addition to these accomplishments, Jim co-authored with Judy Swank the first By-Laws of the Wisconsin High School Nordic Ski League, Inc.
After his retirement in 2000, Jim co-coached with Greg Kresse for a number of additional years as the team continued to grow. He also served as an assistant coach under the present Head Coach Tracy Gorzek. He was a valuable asset to the team because of his years of coaching and waxing experience. Jim continues to volunteer his time and lend his expertise to such things as the Wausau Nordic Ski Club Swap Wax Bench, helping fit skis during equipment handouts/buying, and can be found working the finish line/timing at almost all of the home town races. Jim’s legacy is one of volunteerism and service to the Nordic Ski Community as a whole.