The Ski Hill

By Carol McEwan Powers ’69

I was recently asked if Hood’s Hill was always called Hood’s Hill. “No,” I replied. In fact, for the 16 years I spent at St. Mary’s (12 as a faculty child and four as a student), it was simply known as “the ski hill.”

We all have fond memories of places on campus that were central to life at St. Mary’s. The Great Hall, the Formal Garden, and the pond, to name a few. But as I began to think about the ski hill, I realized that it too was central to life at St. Mary’s.

Skiing was the major winter sport at St. Mary’s (there were no snowboards yet), and we all participated according to our ability. Although we skied at Cannon on weekends, we had “sports” four afternoons a week. We would side-step up the ski hill, from the lower fields all the way up the steep hill to the top, packing the snow as we went. From the expert skiers, including our top-notch ski team (coached by Odd Kilde), who practiced at the top, to the beginners who had lessons on the lower fields, the ski hill was a place we all utilized and enjoyed. I can also remember careening down from the top on a toboggan, sled, or a “borrowed” tray from the kitchen, always hoping to make it safely through the clearing in the trees at the bottom.

But the ski hill was used for more than just winter fun. During my student days, we used the lower field for lacrosse during the fall and were coached by Fred Steele, “Fearless Fred.” To quote Fred*, due to the slope of the field, “instead of ‘left’ or ‘right’ we referred to the ‘uphill or ‘downhill’ wings.” The same applied to the upper field, where we played soccer, which had an even more pronounced slope. The lower field became our softball diamond in the spring, and it was definitely an uphill run to first base! Although we played softball against other local schools, I don’t ever remember having a home game. The distinct slope of the field may well have been the reason!

And then there was Field Day. A full day of athletic competitions between Light Blues and Dark Blues. A vast majority of those competitions were played on the upper and lower fields of the ski hill, including the “claiming” of the big rock by one of the teams who then painted a huge “L” or “D” on the front.

In 2015, I had the pleasure of attending a graduation at the School, and it was held in a huge tent set up on the lower fields of the ski hill. The ski hill, still part of school life after all these years and the perfect spot for such a special occasion.

The ski hill is called Hood’s Hill now. But whether you remember it as “the ski hill” or “Hood’s Hill,” I hope you’ll remember it as an important, central and fun part of your life at WMS/SMS.

*From page 42 of Linda Clark McGoldrick’s book, “Our First Hundred Years.”

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a gender-inclusive, college-preparatory boarding and day school for 140 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

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