Ski club a well-kept secret in the Shores

First trip of season planned for Dec. 18

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 2, 2015

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Are you praying for powder? Then the St. Clair Shores Ski and Snowboard Club might be the group for you.

Although the group has been around for more than 35 years, it has evolved from a strictly youth club to include parents and other adults, and also now includes snowboarders as well as skiers.

“It’s just a really good program,” said St. Clair Shores resident Mike Freemont, who has been chaperoning the trips for 15 years. “I got involved with it because my daughter got me skiing again when she joined. Now my granddaughter’s skiing, and hopefully my grandson will be skiing pretty soon.”

It costs $180 to join the club, which covers 10 Friday night chartered motor coach trips from St. Clair Shores Civic Arena to Mount Holly, plus more than half-off the price of a lift ticket and discounts on rental equipment as well. The first ski or snowboard lesson is always free too, said Gary Sopfe, director of the club for the past 30 years and a lifelong resident of St. Clair Shores.

“I was a police officer in St. Clair Shores, and I was called to the recreation center because the ski club was on a weekend trip and some of the kids had alcohol. They wanted that removed, and that’s when I met the director at that time, and she liked the way I handled the situation for them and she said, ‘Won’t you come skiing with us?’” explained Sopfe.

He said he finished skiing that season with the club, and when the director at that time, Helene Padgett, called him the next year to say the club needed a new director, he stepped up to the plate.

“What was neat for me was, being a police officer, you see a lot of bad, and this was something refreshing ... something different,” he said. “I’ve been running the club ever since.”

Each trip departs Civic Arena at 4 p.m. and returns at midnight. The club is open to anyone, whether they reside in St. Clair Shores or not, and even though it was initially limited to those in grades 6-12, in 2014 the club began including adults.

“It’s a very economical way to go,” said Sopfe, who retired from the St. Clair Shores Police Department in 2006. “You don’t have to drive back and forth in the weather, you’re in a deluxe (motor coach) ... you save money on lift tickets.”

He said they’re hoping the first trip of the year for 2015-16 will be Dec. 18. Those interested can sign up by calling the Parks and Recreation Department at (586) 445-5350 or going to Civic Arena, 20000 Stephens St., in person.

“If Mount Holly’s open, we go,” Freemont said.

Those new to the sport needn’t worry about being left behind, he said.

“You all meet at the bottom of the hill, no matter what ... and have fun,” he said.

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