USSA athletes build a home |

USSA athletes build a home

Park City resident Colby Stevenson recently got an email from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association offering him the chance to go to Mexico with Hope Sports to help build a house for a needy family. He jumped at the chance to get out of the country for a couple days with nearly 20 other USSA members.

Working alongside other athletes like Devin Logan, Gus Kenworthy, and Julia Krass, Stevenson said his outlook on life was greatly impacted by seeing how people who live in poverty exist. But, going into the trip, Stevenson said he didn’t know what to expect out of the experience.

"I got an email a couple weeks before that said it was an all-expenses paid trip and I was going to build a house for a family," he said. "I really had no expectations at all. I signed up because it was free and thought it would look good on a transcript."

Shortly after arriving in Tijuana, however, Stevenson realized it would be a life-changing experience.

"We got there and it exceeded all expectations, without a doubt," he said. "We ended up getting on buses and going like 20 miles out into the slums — that’s what it seemed like. We built a house for a family that basically lived in shack. I’ve never seen poverty like that. It really changed my idea on my life and how well off we’re living. It really put everything in perspective for me."

He said he learned to be thankful for the things he has in life and for living in Park City.

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"I really am fortunate to be where I am, live where I live and do what I do," he said.

Building the house wasn’t easy, Stevenson said. Starting with just a concrete foundation and piles of wood and nails, Stevenson said he was amazed to see the house completed in just two days, as most of the athletes had never done anything like that before this month.

"We started with basically five guys telling the 20 of us where to go and what to do," he said "None of us had really ever built anything of that significance in our lives."

By the end of the first day, though, Stevenson said the team had made noticeable progress.

"Within the first day, we had all the walls up and the gables covering the walls," he said. "We had everything but the plywood and the shingles on the house. It was pretty amazing to see."

Once the house was done, Stevenson said it was very moving to see the family members enter their new home.

"We really didn’t know how big of an impact we were making on this family’s life until the house was actually done," he said. "I actually was lucky enough to be able to hand the key to the family and say the last few words — like how appreciative I was to be able to come down and help them out. I’d never felt a feeling like that in my entire life. It changed their lives right there and it changed mine, too."

Though most of the USSA athletes compete in sports that are largely individual, Stevenson said there were still plenty of lessons to learn about teamwork and togetherness.

"In addition to building the house, we had a psychologist come down and talk to us," he said. "He gave us some really good insight about competing and what mindset you should have. I was thinking a lot about where I was in my life and, when I built this house, I was thinking about other people and not myself.

"[The psychologist] taught me that you have to have a relationship-based identity. You can’t have a performance-based identity. You can’t put yourself down or make things all about yourself. You’ve got to think about how great it is for you to be there with all the people you love around you and how fun it is to do what you’re doing."

Stevenson said trips like this are something he’d definitely consider doing again in the future.

"Without a doubt," he said. "If anyone has a chance to do something like this, I would highly recommend it. You will learn a lot about yourself and also about the world you live in. It’s something everyone needs to do. It makes you more appreciative and enjoy life more."