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Chase Josey Tells Graduates to ‘Leave Nothing on the Table’
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Tatum Minor and Hannah Ferris, and the rest of the Class of 2022 greeted their graduation with enthusiasm.
   
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Two-time Olympian Chase Josey had some choice words for the Class of 2022 at Sun Valley Community School: “Don’t take no for an answer.”

Josey, a 2013 alum of the school, recounted how he went off to his first professional competition at Buttermilk ski resort in Colorado uninvited.

“I showed up and said, ‘I’d like to compete,’ ” he said. “The organizers look at me curiously…I stood there in front of them and said, ‘I’m ready to compete. Let’s go.’ ”

 
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Chase Josey noted that he felt some of the nervousness he does before a snowboard competition as he prepared to deliver the commencement address.
 

Josey did compete that day and won second place.

“It would have been easy to say, ‘I don’t belong here.’ But I put myself out there with an open heart and mind and let my intentions to be known,” he said.

He embraced the 41 graduating seniors: “We are strong. We are capable. We are prepared and we will achieve.”

Sunday’s commencement ceremony was held under the canopy of the Sun Valley Pavilion during a drippy afternoon where the sun tried in vain to appear, only to eventually give way to snow and graupel.

 
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Head of School Ben Pettit applauds as graduating seniors Thomas DeKlotz and Greta Leitheiser enter the stage.
 

The ceremony marked the end of yet another “complex yet robust school year,” in which students and faculty had to navigate the COVID pandemic, noted Head of School Ben Petit. It marked the tenth anniversary of the Sun Valley Ski Academy, which has embraced student athletes from all over the world.

It marked the 13th year at the Community School for two of the graduating seniors--Braden Buchanan and Wilson Baker. And, sadly, Pettit had to pay tribute to Jim Grossman, the father of one of the graduating seniors, who had drowned a week earlier while kayaking the South Fork of the Salmon River.

Grossman, who brought Special Olympians to Sun Valley in 2009 for the World Winter Games, had an infectious smile and was always wanting to take others along on an adventure, noted Pettit.

“Speak truth, share ideas, but do so in a way that others hear you,” he told the students. “I’ve seen the power you each have when you put your whole self into an endeavor…Continue to live purposeful, impactful lives.”

 
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Isabelle Thomson and Emma Desserault were all smiles as they passed beneath the traditional Cutthroat archway decked out with flowers as Bella Maurtua watched.
 

Josey, known for his creative, technical snowboarding style, took sixth in halfpipe in the 2018 Winter Olympics at PyeongChang and seventh at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing amidst an extremely competitive field led by Japanese snowboarders

“As you think about what’s ahead, just know that this school is an incredible launching pad,” he told the seniors.

Josey said he has learned that, if he rides his snowboard for the judges, it seems as if he’s lost. Instead, he said, he remembers what brought him to that moment, including years of training, unrelenting support from family, friends and coaches and an unwillingness to give up.

 

 
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“From here we will go anywhere and everywhere,” said Frances Cherp, who shared Senior Speaker duties with George Murray.
 

“I can honestly say I’m following my dreams as closely as I can,” he added.

Josey encouraged the student to find their voice. His mantra, he said, is: Let my riding do the talking. Still, he admitted, it was difficult at times to see himself as anything but a snowboarder.

The Community School helped him find his voice literally and figuratively as one of the first classes he took was speech.

“Speak up. Be bold. Be brave and be all inclusive. Don’t be afraid to be heard,” he added.

Josey encouraged the graduates to embrace future.

“I have failed and I have failed spectacularly,” he said. But each time he fails, he added, he realizes that the repetition he’s done in practice manifests itself even in failure and helps him progress.

“Use failures. Don’t let them define you,” he said.

Josey said he’s often asked how he works through nerves to compete on the big stage.

“I breathe. I quiet my nerves and I remember my years of training. I know I’m prepared. And, of course I’m going for it. Take what you want in life and leave nothing on the table.”

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