Induction…or Indictment? MY ACCEPTANCE SPEECH FOR THE VERMONT ALPINE RACING ASSOCIATION (VARA) HALL OF FAME BY BILL MCCOLLOM
I’ve been jokingly referring to these ceremonies as my “indict-
ment” rather than induction, and perhaps indictment is more ap-
propriate. It seems that because of my ski racing habit, the adult
behavior police have issued an indictment. They claim that I’m not
meeting my duties as a responsible adult — go figure.
Well, let’s take a look at the charges against me, and see what
you, the jury, as well as Judge Julie, the director of VARA, think of
my purported crimes against adulthood.
It seems I’ve been indicted for:
Charge No. 1: Exhibiting obsessive behavior
Charge No. 2: Having too much fun
Charge No. 3: Overindulging in the pursuit of trivial
Charge No. 4: Associating with minors
Charge No. 5: Having a severely selective memory
In response to these charges, I plead guilty to all of them. But, if
you will bear with me for one moment, I will plead my case.
As to the first charge of exhibiting obsessive behavior, yes, my
basement is stuffed to the gills with ski equipment. And yes, I dis-
appear most weekends, spending tons of money in pursuit of an
activity that can last a minimum of three seconds and a maximum
of only two minutes. It’s true I hang out with others who exhibit simi-
lar perverted symptoms, and talk with them in mind-numbing detail
about what occurred every nanosecond within those two minutes.
That said, I may wince when I’m introduced as that “skier guy;” after
all, I do have plenty of other interests. But I do confess that skiing
has always been my one common denominator, no matter where
I’ve been, what I’ve been doing, or when I’ve been doing it. It’s in
my blood, and I’m grateful for that. Call it obsession, call it passion,
but remember, life would be a dull place without it.
No. 2: Having too much fun. I gleefully plead guilty to this one, and
while I’m at it, I’m also guilty of turning up the car radio too loud AND
even singing off-tune oldies at inappropriate moments. Whether it’s
been teaching school, coaching, writing, or playing sports, I’ve en-
joyed every step of the way. Paraphrasing Robert Frost, I feel fortu-
nate that I’ve been able to combine my vocation with my avocation
— without starving to death in the process. I’ve have had the oppor-
tunity to ski at some of the most beautiful places in the world with
some of the most entertaining companions, and in some instances,
actually get paid to do it. Ah, what a country…
The third charge in my indictment seems to suggest that I play lots
of silly games and sports. I suppose that may be true, but I blame
ski racing for this overindulgence. After all, it’s a tough sport, physically, and you’ve got to do something to keep in shape. I use that
term loosely, because, in the words of that deep-thinking, noted
American philosopher Charles Barkley, “I am no role model.” But
through ski racing I was indoctrinated at an early age to appreciate
the value of my physical well-being. I may be leaking a little oil at
this point, but I try to keep the engine running.
As for the fourth charge, associating with minors, well, yes it’s true.
Actually, Judge Julie, this charge kind of overlaps with “having too
much fun.” Even though there have been times when I’d rather stick
hot daggers into my eyeballs than hear another lame excuse, I’ve
always enjoyed interacting with teens. I also admit that I take from
them as much as I hope I’m giving. For example, I shamelessly tap
into their limitless teenage energy source, which keeps me buzz-
ing for days on end, and I get to learn some very important things.
I can proudly say that I can now identify not only Justin Bieber, but
Snookie, as well. I’m not just sucking up to the jury when I say that
from my perspective, the demise of teen integrity in this country has
been greatly exaggerated.
And to the fifth and final charge of having a selective memory, I
again will have to plead guilty. I can’t remember a darned thing
about all those races I’ve participated in over the past 58 years,
but that doesn’t mean I’ve gone brain dead. I vividly remember the
things that matter, at least to me, such as linking up with a few of
the locals at each mid-Vermont race and skiing in the woods and
hitting all the secret jumps before and after the races. I recently
stumbled across a photo of the top- 10 mid-Vermonters from when I
was in seventh grade and I can still remember every name of those
in that faded yellow picture. I can also warmly recall all the coaches
for whom I’ve skied for over the years; the visionaries who were on
the ground floor of VARA, including Trow Elliman (another VARA
inductee); the leaders of the Eastern and National ACCs, as well
as so many athletes I’ve met who’ve made a profound mark on this
sport. So much of the pleasure that I’ve derived from this sport is
directly related to the people I’ve encountered along the way.
So, Judge Julie, and ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I plead guilty
as charged. But I beg you not judge me too harshly, even though I
show no remorse. As a matter of fact, I’m grateful for all this sport
has given me, and humbled by your recognition. One of these days
I really will figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I’m just not
in a hurry to do so right now.
ILLUSTRATION BY RAND PAUL
SkiRacing.com NOVEMBER 21, 2011 | 71