Ryan Carey `08 was like many other outdoor enthusiasts who came to Plymouth State University. He would eat, sleep, and breathe all things outdoors—sometimes so much so that he would sleep in his car in the parking lot of a trailhead or a ski mountain to get the earliest start possible.
Those who knew Carey while he was at PSU saw something more than a ski bum or someone who wanted to be outdoors all the time. He had a love and desire to get to the top of the skiing field, and more importantly, the ability to see that PSU could help him get there. His ambition set him apart from those who just wanted to be on the slopes every day and hoped whatever income they had would pay for that lifestyle.
Carey notes that while he did indeed ski as much as possible from middle school through college, he realized that it was not going to be enough if he wanted to do more than teach at a school or a resort. That’s where Plymouth State came in.
“My education at Plymouth State and the adventure education program has been a huge asset to me as a coach,” says Carey, a Belmont, NH, native. “I think it is because I approach things in my job as a teacher. I try to figure out athletes and how they learn best, be it visual, athletic, etc. I cater my coaching to each individual’s strengths on how they learn.”
“Learning how to teach outdoors at PSU, even though skiing is not a traditional outdoor education environment, transferred over,” says Carey.
While he was still a student at PSU, he coached skiing at The White Mountain School in Bethlehem and the Loon Freestyle Team at Loon Mountain. After graduation, he moved to Mammoth Lakes, CA, and worked as the Mammoth Mountain ski and snowboard team coach, which led to the skiing community and his current position.
Carey has been the halfpipe skiers developmental team coach for the US Ski Team since 2019, working with Olympic and World Cup hopefuls on tricks and strategies. He equates it to being an AAA minor league baseball manager. The members, typically 16 to 21 years old, have made the team by qualifying through competitions and nominations. They participate in four team trips during the year in places like Europe, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
Director of Alumni Relations Rodney Ekstrom `09G, who was faculty advisor to the Outing Club in Carey’s first couple of years, saw that there was more to his passion. Ekstrom said he is not surprised he has excelled in a related field after graduating.
“Ryan was a typical Outing Club member in some ways—he came to Plymouth to be active, meet kindred spirits, and be outdoors as much as possible,” says Ekstrom, who at the time was an adjunct professor in adventure education. “What was special about Ryan was his particular energy toward it. I wouldn’t say it is unique because we get numerous students with that passion, but a small group is really serious about it and will do anything to make it work.”
Carey’s close friend Michael Stack `08 also saw him reaching the pinnacle.
“It makes sense because he is a hard worker; this guy is a natural when it comes to networking,” says Stack. “I wouldn’t have predicted it because I didn’t see as high as he did. It’s a total credit to him; he had the work ethic and certainly the skill set.”
Stack wasn’t in classes with Carey, but he did take up rock climbing, thanks to the tutelage of his friend. They also skied together often. “Rock climbing instruction requires a lot of coaching techniques,” Stack says. “It was not an easy sport to teach. Ryan adapted quickly to work with different learning styles.”
Carey also credits his PSU friends with similar interests, who introduced him to new adventures and encouraged him to aim high.
“One of the coolest things about Plymouth State was the people I met while I was a student. It really set me on the path I am on today,” Carey explains. “The guys I skied with in college pushed me as a skier and broadened my view on the sport. Meeting those people got me to move to Mammoth Lakes and that got me to meet a whole bunch of people who pushed me to work harder.”
“Ryan stayed committed to the adventure education program and we saw so much maturity over four years,” Ekstrom adds. “His last couple years it became more about classes and his internship opportunities. He was still passionate about the outdoors but now he was mature about it and realized how this could be a career, and he chased those opportunities.”