Markland’s signing takes Elizabethton athletics to another level

Published 9:01 pm Friday, April 30, 2021

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When looking up the word ‘Pioneer’ in the dictionary, the definition given is to develop or be the first to use or apply ( a new method, area of knowledge, or activity.

By that definition, Elizabethton’s Chance Markland can now consider himself to be a ‘Pioneer’ at Elizabethton High School as the young man recently signed to become a member of the Lees-McRae Ski & Snowboard team.

But, wait a minute, the Cyclones do not have such a sport one may ask. Exactly, and for that reason, Markland has established himself as the first to come from the school to participate in the collegiate sporting event as he continues his education as a Bobcat.

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The opportunity presented itself due to Markland’s willingness to do some searching for schools that offered the sport.

“I found the snowboarding team because I was just online to do some research about teams around her that may have had something like that and I just came across that Lees-McRae had a team and it had the coach’s email in it so I emailed the coach and got set up and we rode together last season so that’s how it came about,” Markland shared.

“I reached out to him and let him know that I was local and I snowboarded all the time and he just got me out on the slopes and road with me a few times to see how good that I was and I guess that I was good enough.”

Markland said that he has been skiing and snowboarding for four years and has picked up everything solely on his own.

“I was self-taught and with the help of my friends always pushing me to do the best I could because they were much better than me and just kept me on my toes,” Markland added.

“The first mountain that I ever went to was Sugar Mountain and then I primarily ride Beech and Appalachian now. I try to stay away from Sugar.”

With his signing, Markland is hopeful that others will take his lead and possibly follow in his footsteps especially if they enjoy hitting the slopes as he does.

“I just think that it’s super cool that I was the first one and maybe it will open people’s eyes that are into winter sports like skiing and snowboarding and more people will be interested in going to school to snowboard because they do get a decent scholarship for it,” he said.

Markland also is hoping that schools such as Lees-McRae will start looking to schools that are within a short driving distance to the resorts that are located just across the state line in North Carolina.

He felt that there are possibly others like himself who would like to pursue an open opportunity if they were more educated about the possibilities that abound.

Although Lees-McRae does compete in the sport as a team, Markland realizes that when it comes down to the competitive part of the sport that it rests on each individual athlete to push themselves to be the best.

“I feel like from a team aspect it is based off like a team effort to get there but you still have to push yourself because it’s still like racing. You still have to get down the mountain faster than the person beside you,” commented Markland.

“And like in the park on the rails and stuff, you just want to have as much practice and as much time as possible to get better on those.”

The season locally starts late in November and early December and ends about the middle of March. He acknowledged that the season out west lasts much longer due to the colder weather and possibility of snow later into the year as the season typically opens in October and can run all the way to the first of May.

The Bobcats travel to some places such as Bryce Resort located in Virginia and when Nationals roll around, the team might find itself competing as far as Colorado.

Markland shared that his parents, Richard and Kristie, are ecstatic that their son was the first one from Elizabethton to achieve a skiing and snowboard scholarship.

“They are super excited to know that I am the first one to do it and hoping that I make it all the way through,” he stated.