Rick Stonehouse (left) talks to Ward Dominick at Red Lodge Mountain during the 2017-18 Alpine ski season. (File photo)

Rick Stonehouse is building a Cody coaching legacy whether he believes it or not.

“It’s really just the old guy award,” he chuckled.

Recently, he was named skiing coach of the year by the Wyoming Coaches Association for his work with the Alpine ski team. This is his third time winning the honor since becoming head coach in 2007. He has helped coach other sports including track in the past, but said skiing is his greatest passion.

“Skiing is closest to my heart because of my own interest,” he said.

If there is one thing Stonehouse has built during his time as coach of the Bronc and Filly downhillers, it’s consistency. At least one of the boys or girls teams has finished second at state every year since 2015. Stonehouse was also an assistant coach on the 2004 and 2005 Cody boys state champion Alpine teams.

“It’s nice to have a program where the numbers are consistent,” Stonehouse said. “Other programs look at what’s going on in Jackson and Cody.”

To compensate for not having access to a ski hill most days of the week, Stonehouse performs video analysis with his team and dives deep into the psychological aspect of the sport. Before the snow falls, he wedges ski gates in the grass behind the football field for his athletes to run around, helping them visualize before they attempt the real deal.

“He’s able to meet the kids where they’re at and provide encouragement, inspiration, comic relief, or whatever else they need,” assistant coach Taylor Hensen said. “Stonehouse works extremely hard and expects the athletes to work hard as well on and off the mountain.”

This past season, the Fillies took second at state while the Broncs placed third, despite both teams losing a significant number of seniors entering the season.

Stonehouse said his favorite skiers to coach are those who defy expectations and overachieve. He said it is these members that usually become most dedicated to the team.

“It’s not always about skiing with coach Stonehouse,” Hensen said. “It’s about helping our student athletes to set goals, find self-confidence, and become lifelong learners.”

Stonehouse said he is likely to return next season to coach a 15th year.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying it still and lucky to be doing this,” Stonehouse said. “If I wasn’t coaching I’d probably be sitting around eating Cheetos or something or the other.”

Whenever he does step down, Hensen will probably follow in his ski boots.

“I feel like working with him has fast-tracked me into having more confidence in Alpine ski racing than I expected in the short time I have been coaching,” Hensen said. “The kids and coaches around the state look up to coach Stonehouse not only for his knowledge of the sport, but for his kindness and support as well.”

Stonehouse is a veteran to the Wyoming Alpine ski scene, and his peers notice.

“It doesn’t matter whose race it is or who is in charge, the answer to all the hard questions is usually, ‘I’m not sure, better ask Stonehouse,’” Hensen said.

But before that happens, Stonehouse still wants to knock a state championship off his bucket list.

“It’d be nice to go out with a bang,” he said.

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