From skier to teacher |

From skier to teacher

Derek Siddoway, The Park Record
Dave Peck is an East Coast native whose skiing habit moved him to Utah. (Christopher Reeves/Park Record)

"Growing up, I had a love of sports, I wanted to do everything possible," David Peck says.

At sixty-two years old, it’s hard to argue that Peck hasn’t run the athletic gamut. From indoor track, gymnastics and football in high school, to a competitive downhill ski racing, cross country and jumping in college, the Hoytsville resident brings a wide variety of experiences to his job as a teacher and coach at North Summit High School.

An East Coast native, Peck grew up in Greenwich, Conn., and moved to Andover, Mass., his senior year of high school. The Peck family built a cabin in Vermont and made skiing trips from their Connecticut home every weekend during the winters. Dave, the oldest of five sons, began skiing at 14 and his younger brothers were quick to follow suit.

It was this love for skiing, coupled with the prompting of his Latter-day Saint grandfather, that brought Peck to Utah to attend Brigham Young University following high school.

"In Connecticut and Massachusetts, the skiing was quite hard and pretty icy," Peck said. "Out here, it’s like coming into heaven — great powder and the ski areas were a lot bigger and certainly more challenging than they were back east."

At BYU, Peck contemplated walking on the football team as a punter, but soon discovered skiing was a year-round commitment at the collegiate level. Harboring a desire to compete in the Olympics, his plans for the gridiron were soon abandoned.

"I decided skiing was the best option for me," he said. "I always had thoughts of competing in the Olympics. It was great to compete for BYU in the different events — [in addition to downhill racing], I did the cross country event and ski jumping. We did it all."

Skiing was an extramural sport at BYU, meaning there were no scholarships or money involved. Members of the ski team were given equipment, but the majority of their expenses were handled out of pocket. Even so, Peck’s love and talent for the sport made traveling across the Intermountain West worthwhile.

Peck became a baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints his sophomore year and decided to serve a church mission after his junior year. Before serving in Los Angeles, Peck was voted the number one ski racer at BYU. When he returned, however, the Olympic dream soon ended.

"Following my mission, (ski racing) just didn’t pan out," he said. "Maybe the effort and desire wasn’t there. I saw different goals in my life besides skiing."

During Peck’s senior year at BYU, a knee injury closed the curtain on competitive racing for good. Peck was skiing in the slalom and his ski tip caught, tearing his ACL and MCL. But the mountain hadn’t said its final goodbye quite yet.

In 1988, the year before Peck earned his Master’s at BYU in Exercise Science, a new athletic opportunity presented itself. Peck was selected as the coach for Burton’s snowboard team. He was excited for the new challenge, but had to learn to snowboard himself first.

"It was a rough couple of weeks to learn," he said. "[Burton] really didn’t have anybody that had coached in the half pipe or the racing disciplines. They figured the next best person would be someone who had ski racing experience so they asked me to come and coach."

For the next year, Peck traveled across the United States and Europe with the Burton team. He loved the experience, but soon missed the time spent at home with his wife, Kathy, and their five children. In 1989, he left the position with Burton and was hired as a snowboarding instructor at the Canyons where he earned his Level Three snowboarding endorsement and worked part-time for the next twenty years.

"Because of my background with Burton I was able to organize some snowboarding racing and half pipe events with the Canyons," Peck said. "My one claim to fame is I entered the Utah Winter Games and got first in my division in the half pipe in 1993."

That same year, Peck began teaching at North Summit High School, where he also coached freshman football, freshman boys basketball and later, girls basketball. In 1995, he started coaching cross country and track and field. Two years later, he became the head cross country and track and field coach, a position he has held ever since.

Through it all, it is Peck’s love for coaching, desire to help people reach their potential and willingness to brave the unknown, that has endured.

"Here in the high school, I’m taking someone who hasn’t done anything in a particular sport and can see some really neat improvement," Peck said. "I’m not afraid to research and try different things to make things a little more exciting and interesting for athletes."

Vital Statistics:

  • Has coached and taught at North Summit High School for 19 years.
  • As head track and field coach, has won two cross country state championships and seven track and field state championships: back-to-back boys track and field state championships in 1999-2000 and a current five-year championship run in for the girls.
  • Coached the Burton snowboard team from 1988-89.
  • Won the half pipe in his division in the 1993 Utah Winter Olympics.
  • Downhill skier at BYU for 4 years.
  • Taught snowboarding at the Canyons for 20 years ( 1989-2009).

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