Making a Difference in Education: Abi Holt '95

As the Head Coach of both the women’s and men’s Nordic Ski Teams at University of Utah for the past eight years, Abi Holt ’95’s life is a true balancing act, filled with daily change, challenges, and a strong desire to make a difference to her student-athletes.

“My goal is to help my athletes explore the values of integrity, hard work, leadership, team work, good health, and vitality through sports,” said Abi, who, in 2017, coached the Utes to their first NCAA Skiing Championship title since 2003. “I believe all of these lessons and values were instilled at Community School during my time there.”

While she was at Community School, Abi was a three-time national junior champion in 1993 and 1994 and a 17-time Junior All-American for the Sun Valley Nordic ski team. In 1992, she earned a spot on the U.S. National Junior Development Ski Team, which she held until 1995.  After graduating from Community School in 1995, she landed at Dartmouth College, earning a degree in Spanish in 1999. She raced all four years for the Big Green’s Nordic ski team, was a two-time captain, and earned NCAA All-American honors.

After she graduated, Abi moved to Park City, Utah with the intention of taking one winter to just enjoy Utah powder. But, she said, her plans were thwarted when the local Nordic coach heard she was in town. “I was asked to help out with coaching the junior club team; that was my first coaching position,” Abi explained. For the next few years, she coached and worked for the 2002 Winter Olympic Committee before the lure of coaching full time brought her back to Sun Valley. She spent the next six years working for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) as both a coach and as the Assistant Nordic Program Director. She then headed north to Vancouver, B.C. to coach the Hollyburn Ski Club, where she coached the club’s first four athletes to qualify for national championships. Her reputation was rapidly growing and, after one year, she returned to Utah with a joint contract to coach for both the U.S. Nordic Ski Team and the University of Utah, where she has led the team to be consistently among the best in the country. In 2011 and 2017, she was named the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association Coach of the Year. She also wrapped up a masters degree in communication in 2014 and an MPA in 2017 from the University of Utah.

Coaching, like classroom teaching, Abi said, takes a wide variety of skills. “Every team takes on a personality, and the job requires skills ranging from knowledge of physiology to nutrition to public relations to ski waxing.”

Abi’s path to coaching success was inspired by her time at Community School. She said, “Community School taught me that there are many paths through life, and many happy people working in education. I remember many of the teachers and coaches I had in high school as some of the most passionate, well rounded, and happy adults I knew. Of course, they influenced my career decisions!”