If you’re looking in the dictionary for a word that describes a fun-loving, optimistic, cheerful, light-hearted, kind and laid back creature, I can tell you right now, you’re never going to find it in there. But there is such a person. He’s called Liam Cassidy.

There are so many times when I could count on Mr. Cassidy to help me improve my skiing techniques. So many hours where we played games until our gloves were soaked through. And so many days that I knew I could count on him to answer my many questions. There were practices that Liam would walk in with a shrunken hat in his hands, and a colorful, dinosaur one on his head. I can always count on him to put a smile on my face. I don’t think I’d love skiing half as much as I do if I didn’t have Mr. Cassidy to teach me how.

When we go to races, I can hear other coaches yelling at their skiers to work harder, and diagonal V up hills with impossibly slippery snow. And then there’s our coach, cheering you on no matter how well you’re doing. It could be your worst race of the year, and he would still be there, not caring what place you come in, or what time you got, but only that you crossed the finish line and tried your best.

Every year, after the race season, we have an end of season banquet and sports award ceremony, except, Mr. Cassidy does something better than awards. He writes us personal letters, and speaks about us for a while in front of everyone. That really shows that he cares about us, and that we’re not just another team he has to deal with. That he would take the time to write out a whole page about us really means a lot to us.

Saturdays are also fun, but not just cause we get to go out and ski for two hours, but because he is there to help us ski. He is up at the high school, every single Saturday, unless something really important happens that he has to miss it. I love watching him fake a fall and show the little kids how to get up. Some coaches are afraid of embarrassing themselves in front of students because they want to look like they know what they’re doing. But we know Liam knows what he’s doing because he doesn’t care about those kind of things.

But don’t stop reading yet, he also cares about our school and literate careers. He always watches in the Academic Advocate for our pieces of writing, and encourages us to do well in drama, band, chorus, or anything else we love to do. And because of his laid back nature, ski practice has become a time to hang out with friends, and bond with people you normally wouldn’t. But like he always points out, there is a time for friends, and a time for skiing, and I don’t know anyone who demonstrates that as well as he does.

Now, I’m going to refrain from using the term, freak of nature, but…

Thank you Mr. Cassidy! For being the best coach a kid could ask for.

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