After 35 years with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, including four as Executive Director, Sarah Floyd is stepping down. Floyd has been a coach, sporting director, associate executive director and chief executive for over three decades with the club.
“She’s the club as far as I’m concerned,” associate executive director Jon Nolting said. “There is so much history in the club, and Sarah is an incredible historian of the club and a great link between the club and the community.”
Floyd isn’t sure what she’ll do next, but she hopes to find a position where she can champion the Yampa Valley and help maintain its heritage.
During his three decades working at Howelsen Hill where the club trains, Floyd has become the face of the SSWSC. When two-time Olympian Caroline Lalive competed with the club in the 90s, Floyd was there.
“I always remember this beautiful, white-haired woman who was often backstage in her early years,” Lalive said. “She was the glue of so much that was happening at the club.”
Lalive then became a coach and alpine director at the SSWSC. Lalive admired that no matter how busy Floyd was, she always found time to listen to people’s praises and concerns.
“I really admired and respected Sarah’s ability to be really stable in her overall approach to parents, coaches and athletes. I’ve always really respected that,” Lalive said. “It’s a pretty interesting triangle of people. I think she did her job really well in that regard. She was able to meet everyone’s needs without compromising the integrity of the club.
When Floyd took over as executive director in October 2018, she became the historic club’s first female manager.
Former SSWSC executive director Rick Devos watched Floyd rise through the ranks and return to his job, which he held from 1999 to 2013.
When Devos took over, Floyd became the sporting director. With the pair at the helm, the club grew from 400 to 1,200 athletes, Devos said. They also did the club’s programming throughout the year, expanding with dry zone training and warm weather sports.
“Personally, she was a partner to me in everything we did there,” Devos said. “We had a lot of fun together. She’s probably one of my best friends. In fact, she came to the winter sports club when I was considering leaving the ski area to run the winter sports club. I just remember that day when she looked at me and said, ‘You’re not going alone.’ It was perfect timing. She came with me the first day there.
Devos believes Floyd’s experience in early childhood education helped her do what was best for children and understand what was age-appropriate training, travel and more. He was also impressed not only by Floyd’s ability to communicate well with parents, but also by his desire to do so.
Floyd said she understands that parents are passionate about their children because they want the best for them and want to see them succeed.
She said watching the kids enjoy athletics, grow, improve and even come back with their own children was her greatest joy while working at the club.
Floyd has not only been an advocate for the SSWSC, speaking at Steamboat Resort and Olympic events, she has also been a huge supporter of Howelsen Hill in general.
“It’s the history and heritage of skiing in our valley,” she said. “It’s a wonderful place for children to grow up. Preserving and protecting Howelsen Hill is a very important part of Steamboat.
Floyd played an important role in setting up the new Barrows chairlift. She and the SSWSC helped secure funding and facilitate the partnership between the VF Foundation, the philanthropic arm of VF Corp. which now owns the former Smartwool company based in Steamboat Springs, and the town of Steamboat Springs. While the chairlift is one of Floyd’s most obvious and recent contributions, she is most proud of the nationally acclaimed quality programming that is offered to accomplished athletes, as well as young athletes in training.
“The winter sports club is all about youth development – it’s about all the kids,” Floyd said. “My only additional goal is to get more and more children involved in the opportunities of the winter sports club.”
The club is currently looking for a new general manager. Lalive said an ideal candidate would be someone who is progressive in their thinking, but not without losing sight of what makes Steamboat special.
“It’s not a finish and fix job,” Nolting said. “It will be a great opportunity for someone to really take a successful program and really make it the best in the world.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.