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Community gathers to officially open new Deprey Nordic Center in Madawaska

In April of 2017, Madawaska Middle/High Physical Education Teacher Thomas Gerard happened to notice how much time the school’s Nordic skiing team wasted loading and transporting equipment from the high school to the Four Seasons Trail Lodge where they hold their practices.

He approached the team’s coach, Colin Jandreau, also a teacher at the school, with an idea to build a small facility directly adjacent to the ski trails where students could store equipment. The idea started small, with a $500 donation from a local credit union. By September of the same year, the project had raised over $16,000; enough to have a prefab building assembled in Canada and delivered to the Four Seasons Trail facility.

Reno Deprey addresses members of the community, including, from left, Gil Roy and Isabelle Jandreau, at the Four Seasons Lodge during the grand opening on April 10 of the Deprey Nordic Center that was named after him. (Gina Jandreau)

April 10, 2018, just under a year after the project’s conception, the community gathered at the Four Seasons Lodge to hold the Deprey Nordic Center’s grand opening. The short ceremony opened with Gerard thanking several previous Nordic ski coaches who attended the event for promoting Nordic skiing as a lifelong sport. The group of coaches assembled included Reno Deprey, also a former Madawaska High School teacher and the namesake for the center.

Jandreau, speaking during the ceremony, said that Deprey, who still skis competitively at age 88, could serve as a perfect role model for students and community members who want to stay active through Nordic skiing. Jandreau recalled sitting in Deprey’s math class, and asking where he skied during the weekend. On one occasion, Deprey had skied the almost 20 miles to the neighboring town of Fort Kent.

Deprey himself appreciated the spirit of volunteer community as much as he appreciated their accomplishments. Of the group’s volunteer efforts, he said, “It’s like climbing a mountain. Once you get to the top, it’s no more fun. It’s about the climb. And you have climbed beautifully.”

The building holds several benches used for waxing skis, and skis line the walls. Also present are several dozen snowshoes to be used in physical education classes. Jandreau said that “having skis on site has been amazing. We can build on this.”

The opening of the center follows a very successful year by the school’s Nordic skiing program. The girls team finished second in the Class C Nordic State Championship, with team member Isabelle Jandreau winning first place in both the classic and freestyle races.

Like the rest of the Four Seasons Trail facility, the Deprey Nordic Center was funded by donations from the local community. In total, the project received 37 donations from community members, all of whom have had their contributions memorialized on a plaque outside the building’s door.

Much of the labor, including wiring and electrical work, also was donated or provided at cost. The project also depended on a little bit of ingenuity from volunteers. The stairs which lead up to both of the building’s entryways are made from repurposed decks. Coach Jandreau said “we scavenged things. We took what we could find and we made it work.”

Superintendent of Madawaska Schools, Gisele Dionne, took a moment to appreciate how far Madawaska’s Nordic skiing community has come. Dionne recalled the Four Seasons Trail Association’s origins as a small committee with a single unheated building, and thanked its volunteers for creating a facility and trail system which allows community members of all ages to stay active throughout the year.

Those wishing to donate to the Madawaska Middle/High School ski program can mail donations to 135 Seventh Avenue, Madawaska, ME 04756. Donations can be made to the Four Seasons Trail Association at fourseasonstrail.org.

 

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