(4) Lost.

As a freshman in college, the world takes on a whole new form. You have freedoms that you never did before. There is no one sitting there telling you what you can or can not do. And some people take that and run with it. I took it and I ran, as hard as I could, from everything. I left for college not on great terms with my family. I avoided home, afraid to confront issues I had and judgment from my family on the choices I was making. I avoided anything that reminded me of what I had went through that last year of school. In high school, you have a tendency to think you know everything there is about the world. That you don't need guidance or advice. But when you get out of your high school life bubble there is a lot out there to learn. A lot of life you have yet to go through. And you realize you don't know as much as you think you did. I didn't know who I was or where I was going with my life. I felt alone, even when surrounded by great friends, and I craved snowboarding. I wanted to snowboard so bad I was constantly on edge. The people I grew closer to at the time, and in the years to come, were Nia and Lexi. People I had become pretty good friends with my senior year in high school when all my other friendships were falling apart. They were there for me even when they didn't realize it. I don't know what I would have done without them in my life.

Of course, I made friends at school and the girls I lived with were absolutely awesome people. I will never forget them and all of our good times together. It's unfortunate I slowly went off in my own direction and lost touch with them. When winter came, I was hardly around. I dedicated a lot of my time to snowboarding and teaching. Nia had started instructing that year and we became even closer friends. I remember often wearing my snow clothes to class and getting picked up by Nia afterward to go ride. Or skipping class here and there to take the whole morning off to ride.

I was not only in love with snowboarding and the atmosphere of Snow Trails but I depended on it. It was the only thing I knew about myself that was consistent and solid. Everything else in my life was confusing and difficult. I could rely on snowboarding, at least for a few months of the year. For just a few months, I could forget how lost and lonely I felt. I became really good friends with the people at Snow Trails that year. When I say we became like family I mean that. They are the best friends I have ever had and will ever have.  That's when I started to realize how much I wanted to do something that involved snowboarding as my career.

(3) Dreams Do Come True.

My junior year in high school a lot changed. I had lost 60 pounds since the year before, gotten involved in football training, made a completely new set of friends, and had a consistent boyfriend. I got in more trouble than I knew what to do with. My friends were crazy and I had an absolute blast. I remember that winter was amazing. I could snowboard. I was learning how to perfect my carving and how to hit beginner boxes and rails. I remember telling Laura that I wanted to be an Instructor and teach other kids how to snowboard so they wouldn't hate it like I did at one point. I also told her I that maybe once I was an Instructor I could become pro or own a snowboard company and help other people become pro. I was inspired to be the best I could be as a snowboarder. I was falling in love with the sport. The rest of that season was a blast and at the end of it I asked about being an instructor the following year. I filled out an application, applied, and got hired for the next season.

The next year and a half was rough on me. The relationship I was in took a turn for the worst, in more words than I can describe. I lost some friendships due to the issues that arose from that relationship. And a lady that was much like a grandmother to me and had helped me through the hard times past away from cancer. I felt very alone and turned to snowboarding to help me through it all.

My first year teaching, fourth season snowboarding, was amazing. I loved every minute of it. I don't remember if I was every really shy with the people I worked with but they very quickly became my family. I was so happy to find a place I belonged completely. I learned more than I could have ever imagined about snowboarding. I made my students smile and have a good time. I was completely wrapped up in the little bubble that Snow Trails provided. I had accomplished something I never imagined would happen. I had a dream the season before to instruct and I made that dream come true. I had just shown myself dreams can come true if you try hard enough. And when the season ended, I cried.

(2) Snowboarding VS Ashley Round 2

I don't remember the gap between my first couple winter seasons. I never missed the snow and I certainly didn't miss falling on my ass all the time. When the winter season came around, I signed up for ski club again. My mom, who taught at the school, decided to fill an adviser spot in the club. This time I started the season with a friend I knew equaled me in skill and wouldn't leave me on the hill alone. However, when we got out there to attempt snowboarding I got frustrated quickly. The smile I had on my face the season before was way past gone. I was having a horrible time and was ready to quit all together 2 nights into the season.

My mom refused to let me quit since she had already paid for the ski pass and told me to just keep taking lessons until I got it. I really did not want to take a lesson, I was too worried about how it would make me look in front of my other snowboarding friends if I took a lesson. But after struggling and not having a choice to quit I gave in. Laura and I took a group lesson. This time the group was smaller. Our instructors were nice, funny, and took the time to get to know us. One of the guys I recognized as the guy I had asked the year before how to get to the bunny hill. I didn't know how well I would get to know them in the future but I did recognize how much they loved to snowboard. I learned enough to spark my interest in snowboarding again. I could stand up, fall and get back up, and stop without falling. I had learned it all in one night when I had spent a whole season doing less than that. I decided to take more lessons after that. I learned how to carve and how to fall on a box. I had made progress and I wanted more.

Some point halfway through that season, I had made friends with one of our foreign exchange students named Estelle. She wanted to try snowboarding but she just had a guest pass for the evening and didn't want to try to take a lesson. So Laura and I took her to the man made bump of snow that was called the Never Ever hill and showed her how to get in her board. We had climbed to the top of the little never ever and strapped in. I was about to teach her how to stop, something I considered really important to know, so I strapped in and started down the hill. When I was getting ready to turn to stop I caught my edge, flew through the air, and landed hard and awkwardly on my right arm. I knew right away that I had broken it.

Snowboarding had won again. I didn't stop snowboarding though. Your not supposed to snowboard/ski with a broken arm but we only had a few more nights of ski club and I was not willing to give up just when I was getting the hang of it all. So we hid my cast and finished out the season. The end of this season was hard to let go of and the months that followed felt like an eternity. But I had won.

(1) In the Beginning... I sucked.

I was 14 years old the first time I strapped a board to my feet. Unfortunately, it was not pretty. Anyone who knew me was confused as to why I was going to attempt snowboarding. A lot of people kept telling me maybe I should start off on skis and see how I liked it before I tried something that hard. I was so clumsy just walking from one place to another it was almost impossible to vision me snowboarding. I had joined my high school ski club because that was what my friends were doing. They had promised to help teach me and that I would catch on quickly. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was getting into.

I remember the first night I stepped out of the bus at Snow Trails. It was dark already, there were kids running around the parking lot, some sliding on the ice. It was chaotic. We got to the  rental building only to find the line for renting equipment was out the door and around the corner. My friends told me they would wait for me on the bunny hill while I got my stuff and left me to fend for myself. When I finally got through the line and got outside I realized I had no idea where the bunny hill was. I saw a group of people wearing ugly matching jackets and decided to ask one of them. They looked a little crazy but nice and were more than willing to point me in the right direction. There was something about the look in there eyes that made me curious. You could see the happiness in them.

I took my time walking to the bunny hill, not really sure I was going to make it through the task ahead of me, but still willing to try. My friends were waiting over there just as promised. They showed me how to strap in, how to push around, and how to get on the lift. Tripping over myself along the way we got to the lift and went up. Of course, I fell at the top and couldn't get up. Got hit in the head by the chair and tripped the people on the chair behind me before the person stopped the lift. I crawled my way over to the side, apologizing as I went, and got helped up by the the lift operator.

The short version of what happened next is what I've come to know as typical beginner luck when you don't take a lesson from someone who knows what they are doing. I spent most of the next hour falling on my face and butt. Not just an "opps I slipped" kind of falling but a teeth gritting/bruise forming/muscle pulling kind of falling. About an hour after my friends started to help me they decided they wanted to go ride the bigger stuff and left me on the hill. Of course, they promised they would be right back. But I didn't see them until I got back on the bus later that night. I spent the next month sitting on the bunny hill alone watching snowboarders go by. I'd get up here and there and attempt to move like they did only to fall back down. My friends had given up trying to help me but I was not going to give up. I took a lesson but there were 30 students in the class and all I had at the end was a cold butt, runny nose, and learned nothing more than I had already known. That was when I met Laura. Someone who had joined ski club at my school to try snowboarding but was having no success.

We spent the rest of the season attempting to stand up on our boards, sitting on the hill people watching, and sledding down the small hill of snow by the pond. We got nowhere but I enjoyed the time I spent there. I liked the atmosphere, the cold, the quiet surroundings, and the occasional echo mixture of boards and skis scrapping the ice and people laughing. The end of my first season came around and I left with a smile on my face.