Science teacher explains her experience with Division I skiing

by Ryan LeBlanc

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Playing a Division I sport and getting a bachelor’s degree is a difficult task, but teacher Irene Bickert-Fink figured it out. 

Bickert-Fink is a physics teacher who has been teaching since she got out of college. The science teacher has a unique background in skiing. Ms. Bick was taught by her father who skied at Tufts. She started when she was two, and her earliest memory of skiing was learning how to ski with her parents and two siblings. 

“They would put us in between their legs, and we’d held on to their knees, and they’d ski down the mountain,” she said. 

Skiing allowed Bickert Fink  to explore the whole world.

 “I’ve been skiing, every place out west … plus Canada, plus Australia, plus, Europe. I skied in Austria, Switzerland, and France, “Ms. Bick said. She has been fortunate enough to travel with her parents and friends worldwide for skiing. 

She described that skiing was a good way to bond with her family, friends and especially her father. Her favorite places to ski were Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Zermatt, Switzerland.

When she was six year old science teacher participated in many ski race for the Mountain Creek ski team. Competitive skiing made Bickert-Fink sacrifice much of her time at a young age.

 “My father would drive me up every Wednesday and Friday, and I would ski till nine at night,” Bickert-Fink said. Skiing became more a passion for Bickert-Fink as she became a teenager. Her father was highly supportive in keeping this passion for skiing alive for Bickert-Fink. 

Bickert-Fink realized that she could purse her passion for skiing in college when she was participating in these competitive races. Colleges would attend her races and begin to recruit her as she got older. Bickert-Fink explained the hard work and dedication that you have to put into skiing to become division one. 

The physics teachers skills impressed UMASS who was had a division one skiing program and offered Bickert-Fink a spot on their roster. Bickert-Fink was prepared and ready to ski at UMASS. Academics became a major part in Bickert-Fink’s college life. She had to manage the division one sport and her school work. Bickert-Fink studied pre-med which was a ton of work and time. Even during the off-season they required skiers to practice by using inline skis which were used indoor, so she never got any time off. Unfortunately she had to deal with multiple knee injuries that resulted in getting surgery. 

There were some benefits from missing out on ski events.

 “A lot of times you’re hurt, which meant you’re not training, you’re not going to the races,” she said. Bickert-Fink took advantage of this time off from skiing to study for pre-med. 

The teacher had to experience three knee surgeries, and after the third it became too much so she retired from her skiing career. Since skiing was out of the question, Bickert-Fink goal after college was to go to medical school. Medical school didn’t work out for her because it became too much work and sacrifice for her, so she became a tennis and ski instructor. She never really had the idea about coming a teacher until her grandmother suggested it to her during the time she was coaching tennis and skiing. 

Bickert-Fink now is a current teacher at Glen Rock, and still misses her college sport. She misses hitting the slopes, but she is happy, and currently living with her family who has taken her athletic gene but instead of skiing her boys play football.