“If you like the social interactions and you want to either learn how to ski or improve your skiing and interact with people who also really enjoy skiing, it’s a great organization to get into,” said Robert Bayless, the club president, who’s been involved almost 20 years since he first joined at age 9.
“And it’s not just a winter-only thing,” said Bayless, a second-generation member of the club. “It’s throughout the whole year. You start keeping up with people like they are your family.”
The East Tennessee Mogul Mashers Ski Club belongs to the Crescent Ski Council, which hosts a recreational racing program in the Southeast and includes 20 ski and outing clubs in seven states.
“We have six races every year, if you want to race,” Bayless said. “If you just want to ski, you have the five North Carolina race weekends, a Snowshoe weekend, and two or three long-distance trips that you can take with the club. All you have to do to sign up is pay your membership and sign the waiver. There’s really no other requirement.”
The ski trips coordinated by the group, often at highly-discounted rates, are to local area ski destinations and sometimes to places around the world.
Beth Dison, membership director and longtime member, said participation in the club is open to everyone, as is racing.
“You don’t have to be the fastest person on the hill,” she said, explaining that for races, skiers are grouped together with others of similar ability. That includes children, seniors, and people who do adaptive skiing to accommodate physical disabilities.
Meanwhile, those who are the fastest racers have the opportunity to qualify for national competition.
“It [racing] makes the small hills fun again and challenging again for somebody that’s gone out west and skied all over the place,” she said. “The camaraderie, the challenge, the adrenaline rush, and certainly the social aspects [also make racing fun]. After the races... everyone goes out to dinner, huge groups together, and that’s a lot of fun as well.”
There are also a lot of club members who don’t race and some who don’t ski at all. The club does a variety of activities throughout the year, including ski-related conferences, an annual trip to Myrtle Beach, fun days on the lake with boats and jet skis, and twice-a-month social gatherings.
Among the non-skiing activities they’ve done as a group in recent years: camping, whitewater rafting, University of Tennessee football tailgating, visiting museums and other attractions, going on golf outings, and taking trips to places like Europe and the Caribbean.
They also do community service projects, the biggest of which is their “Captain for a Day” event, when they take mentally- and physically-challenged individuals out to enjoy the lake.
For more information about the East Tennesee Mogul Mashers, e-mail [email protected] The group is also online on Facebook and Twitter and at www.etmm.net.
Our monthly Join the Club series is designed to introduce local readers to various clubs and organizations in the region. If you'd like to suggest a club for the series, email Sunday Stories editor Carmen Musick at [email protected]