‘Now this family has a house’: College breaks ground on new Kelley Ski Center

September 29, 2023
Izzy Quam '25

This past Saturday, 70 community members, including Interim President Lewis Thayne, alumni, families, staff, and current ski team members gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Kelley Ski Center.  

Tom Kelley ’69 speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Kelley Ski Center on Sept. 23, 2023. (Photo by Steve Mease)

The Kelley Ski Center, located at 19 Lime Kiln Rd, will be the new home base for the Saint Michael’s Alpine and Nordic Ski teams. It is named for Tom Kelley ’69, former ski team captain and later Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, mentor, volunteer, fan and Alpine ski coaching assistant. The center has been entirely donor-funded, including leadership support from Tom and his wife Denise. 

“Tom, your dream of a standalone ski center to house the Alpine and Nordic teams – a dream now shared by our entire community – is about to become a reality,” Thayne said.  

Currently, both the Nordic and Alpine teams operate out of a shared room in the Tarrant Recreation Center. As the ski programs have grown and evolved, the space has become inadequate.  

“These two coaches have grown our teams into eastern and national prominence,” Kelley said in his speech. “The ski room needs to grow also. It needs to grow to an extent that is equal to their accomplishments.”  

A space to make skiers more competitive 

The Kelley Ski Center will repurpose the building known as Senior Hall. The Center have more space for waxing and tuning, a vital aspect to the sport. Right now, the teams have about three benches each, making it difficult for athletes to tend to their equipment. With more benches, athletes will be able to wax their skis more frequently without having to fight for a spot on a bench.  

The Kelley Ski Center will also have a place for the teams to hang out and watch video as well as a kitchen. The teams often leave for practice before the campus dining hall opens, so the kitchen will allow them to get the food they need before practice.  

Alpine Ski Team Captain Maggie Froland ’25, left, and Nordic Ski Team Captain Declan Hutchinson ’25 speak during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Kelley Ski Center on Sept. 23, 2023. (Photo by Steve Mease)

“We now have a space that makes us more competitive,” said Maggie Froland ’25, captain of the Alpine Ski Team. “We now have a space where we can do proper prep work that will make us succeed.”   

The Kelley Ski Center will also help foster a sense of community,  

“We treat each other as family, and now this family has a house,” said Froland. 

What happens next? 

According to Joel Ribout, Director of Facilities, there are multiple permits Saint Michael’s needs for the project before construction can start. The first is a site plan permit obtained through the town of Colchester. Once that is approved, Saint Michael’s will need a building permit from the town of Colchester and the state of Vermont.  

The permits will dictate when construction can start, but the goal is to start construction in January and be finished in mid-August at the latest, Ribout said.  

View a photo gallery of the groundbreaking ceremony here:

The Kelley Alpine and Nordic Ski Center
The reconstruction and remodeling of the existing building will be substantial. The walls and floor need to be removed, new windows need to be installed, a new exhaust system needs to be installed for waxing, the kitchen needs to be upgraded, and the fire alarms need to be upgraded. All the work, however, will be contained to the basement and first floor, Ribout explained.  

Once the project is complete, Saint Michael’s will need an occupancy permit that the town and state need to sign off on before it can be occupied.  

A site plan of the new Kelley Ski Center can be found here. 

Donations made the project possible 

Saint Michael’s ultimately needed the funding for the Ski Center to be possible – which it did, thanks to alumni and ski family donors. The Kelley Ski Center has been entirely funded by those donors, who ranged from the Class of 1959 alumni to families of first-year students.

Tom Kelley ’69, right, speaks with current members of the ski teams at Saint Michael’s College after a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Kelley Ski Center on Sept. 23, 2023. (Photo by Steve Mease)

Once Saint Michael’s received the major gift from the Kelleys, the school had an anchor to work from, explained Carla Francis, Major and Planned Gift Officer in the Office of Institutional Advancement. Institutional Advancement then created a pamphlet with information about the ski center, which was sent to current and former athletes and families. One way donors could contribute and be recognized was by purchasing a locker in their name.  

The fundraising took about a year, and it was announced at the groundbreaking that the project was fully funded.  

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to more accurately reflect speakers’ remarks during the Kelley Ski Center groundbreaking.

More information about the Kelley Ski Center can be found here.>> 

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