Jarzin signs national letter of intent
BY RICH PALZEWIC
Cathy Putman photo
ASHWAUBENON – In a small ceremony in front of family, friends and her coaches, Ashwaubenon Nordic Ski Team (ANST) member Abby Jarzin recently signed her national letter of intent to ski collegiately at Northern Michigan University (NMU) in Marquette, Michigan.
Jarzin – a homeschooler – has won the Wisconsin High School state championships for the past three years and will be looking to repeat that feat this season before moving on to the Division II Wildcats next season.
“I would definitely like to end my high school career by winning another state championship,” said Jarzin, who won both the classic and skate disciplines in 2016-17 and skate in 2015 as a freshman. “There are a lot of good skiers out there but I’m confident that with hard work and determination I can accomplish my goal.”
With another victory this year, it’s safe to say that Jarzin would be one of the most – if not the most – decorated high school Nordic skiers the state has ever seen.
“Abby is a super hard worker and has been working towards some pretty impressive goals, including collegiate skiing,” said Ashwaubenon coach Scott Putman. “I am very happy with her selection and have been impressed with all the central (Midwest) ski teams – particularly impressed by NMU. It’s nice that she will be close by and racing at the same venues. She has also been helping with our new skiers, where she is a great role model and leader. She is fun to work with as an athlete and we hope she continues that relationship to help ANST when she is in college.”
Under the tutelage of head coach Sten Fjeldheim, NMU has one of the most successful Nordic Ski programs in the country, so when Jarzin was offered nearly a full scholarship to attend, it became an easy choice.
“I realized early on that I wanted to be on a team that developed their athletes as compared to having you at the top right away,” Jarzin said, who plans to study pre-physical therapy in Marquette. “That was very important to me so that’s why Northern Michigan stuck out. After I visited up there, they increased their offer to me and that’s when I decided to commit. They have very good training and I’m looking forward to the team.”
Jarzin started skiing when she was five or six years old and joined ANST when she was in the fifth grade. Unlike the early-season conditions the team has to deal with in Green Bay with little or no snow, Jarzin won’t have to worry about that in Marquette. The largest city in the Upper Peninsula receives about 150 inches of snow on average per year and it’s not uncommon to be skiing by Thanksgiving or early December.
“My coach Scott (Putman) has been coaching me since I was a horrible skier and just beginning,” laughed Jarzin. “I think he has done an amazing job developing me into the skier I am today. I also have to thank my parents and I wouldn’t be here without them. My mom is the middle school coach here but she’s helped me along the way. Now I don’t have to stress about finding a place to ski in college and I can just focus on this season.”
Jarzin has some lofty goals besides repeating as state champ. She’d like to qualify for the US Ski Team and compete in Finland, but in order to do so she’d have to be one of the top competitors at the 2018 national cross country championships in Anchorage, Alaska. Jarzin would also like to make it the NCAA meet during her first few years at NMU, maybe even in her initial year.
Despite having such high expectations, with her determination, drive and some top-notch coaching, I wouldn’t bet against Jarzin on this one.
Notes: Like other high school Nordic Ski teams in the state, ANST is a club sport at Ashwaubenon so it doesn’t receive funding from the school district; but the school does give space, facility usage, background checks and insurance to the team. It’s also not a sanctioned WIAA sport so in most situations coaches are unpaid volunteers. Athletes from Bay Port, Pulaski, Notre Dame, De Pere and the Green Bay schools fill out the roster. To learn more about ANST, log on to Facebook and search for “Ashwaubenon Nordic Ski Team.”