While Juneau-Douglas High School varsity sports have always drawn a lot of attention within the community, one athletic team, or crew rather, has been under the communal radar.
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A group of high schoolers known as "The Bad Larry Crew" have snowboarded and skied together since middle school and made great strides within their sport through the solidarity they have kept up through the years.
"By the end of middle school ... we were a pretty solid crew and held it together through high school on and off the mountain," Bad Larry member Lucas Merli said.
The Bad Larry Crew consists of 10 members altogether, four of whom already graduated and six set to graduate in 2008 from JDHS. The group members still in high school consist of skiers Jesse West and Will Geiger, and snowboarders Richie Behuniak, Conor Bell, Makai Millay and Merli. Other group members include skier Kanaan Bausler and snowboarders Donovan Bell, Paul Paramore and Mark Rainery.
The other group members who are former JDHS students consist of snowboarders Donovan Bell, Paul Paramore and Mark Rainery, as well as skier Kanaan Bausler.
West, a starting wide receiver on the state championship football team and a varsity soccer player, spoke to the uniqueness of riding with a crew.
"On any given day of riding, I could ride with one person in the group and it would be a completely different day of riding than with someone else," West said.
"We are progressing equally, if not more than team sports," Merli said, "because we're out there pushing ourselves."
While West has played on numerous team sports as well as skied, he believes in the importance of both varsity sports and individual winter sports.
"I played varsity sports and I learned a lot from them and they're all really cool programs. I met a lot of people," West said. "But last night I went out skiing for four hours and it was just as equally hard as going to practice for a high school sport. But skiing allows for more creativity."
They mentioned that while they are a crew, they typically ride in pairs or smaller groups rather than as the entire squad.
"On the mountain," West said, "you can't always ride with 10 guys and get a bunch down."
"We pretty much dominate the mountain most of the time," Merli added.
The six Bad Larry Crew members still in high school belong to the JDHS Alpine Club, which provides a small taste of what it's like to be a varsity skier. The Alpine Club allows its members to get time off from school to ski and snowboard at Eaglecrest Ski Area. Getting time off to ride the mountain is similar to members of other sports teams leaving school to practice or attend a game.
Skiing and snowboarding doesn't happen for free, however.
The Bad Larry Crew's fundraising techniques are identical to all other major sports programs in Juneau. The riders depend on their parents, local support and any money saved during summer jobs.
The crew also showed their resourcefulness by deciding to build their own set of steps and rails.
After frequently getting kicked off of rails downtown, the Bad Larry Crew pooled together about $3,000 to construct a set of their own stairs with handrails at West's house for grinding down the rail.
This Thanksgiving break, the crew will head down to Mount Baker Ski Area in Washington state for its first legitimate session of the year. It also may be the last year all of the Bad Larry members will be together before graduation.
"We'll be moving to different parts of the country," Geiger said. "It's our last year as a strong group."
Geiger and Behuniak will attend University of Alaska Southeast after they graduate, while Merli and Millay are looking into Quest University in Squamish, British Columbia. West remains undecided on where he will be going to college.
The crew also has made five videos: "Alaskan Monkey Business," "907," "Hornz," "Gumbo 2" and "Just Livin'."
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