Exit Interview: Mr. J.P. Daigneault


Coach JP Daigneault.

When did you start working at Northwood and how long have you been here?
September 2014 – 3 full seasons.

What different jobs have you done/classes have you taught?
Ski Program Director & head coach; Mountain Biking

Why did you decide to leave your Northwood job?
I didn’t so much decide to leave Northwood as much as I decided to take on a new challenge with Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont.

I’m happy for this question because answering it affords me the opportunity to say this:  It was not an easy decision.  On the one hand I was looking at a fresh challenge surrounded by people I’ve either worked with before, raced against in my own athletic career, or whom I’ve known for 10 or 20 years.  That’s a really nice situation to go into.

On the other hand, I was leaving colleagues and an admin team at Northwood that, not only allowed me, but played a huge role in helping me shape the ski program into what it became over the last three seasons.  I’m really proud of the work we all did to breathe new life into the ski program and the results our student-athletes achieved.  I would feel worse about leaving Northwood if we hadn’t accomplished all that we have.

As it is, whomever steps into my role at Northwood will inherit a really good team and an incredibly supportive admin team and structure.  I feel good about that.

Do you have a best story/fondest memory/funniest happening that you could tell?
When I first showed up in the Fall of 2014, I had been working in Australia for their entire ski season.  That means I arrived in Lake Placid late after the start of the School year but just in time for Northwood’s Mountain Day.  I got to know Don Mellor on that day as I was paired with him and a capable group of kids for the Trap Dike/Colden hike.  It was an amazing day.  I really loved it.  So much so that the same night, out at dinner with local friends (some of whom were Northwood alums), I said to everyone there “I can’t wait to see which mountain I get next week!”

Yes, I thought that this “Mountain Day” thing was a weekly event.  Why wouldn’t I?!?  It is such a cool day and there are so many mountains to hike!  Of course, everyone around the table just looked at each other with little smiles on their faces before laughing at me.  I was really disappointed when they told me that Northwood’s Mountain Day was only once a year.

Did you have a favorite year? Favorite part, class or team?
When I read this question, the thought that keeps coming to me is that for the three years that I was there, every year just ‘felt’ better than the year before.  It just seemed to me that the School kept improving and figuring out ways to bring out the best in everyone with each year.

What did your time here teach you?
My time at Northwood taught me that the bigger the organization or the bigger the goals the better you need to work with other people because you aren’t going to get there on your own; you can’t do everything.  I struggle mightily with asking for help and I still tend to go until I blow up.  Luckily, I worked with amazing people whom I learned to trust and they always came through for the ski team.  I was humbled.

What are your future plans? Where are you going?
I am headed to Burke Mountain Academy, the world’s pre-eminent ski-racing academy/high school, in East Burke, VT.  I will be head coach for all of the groups of men who are 16+ years old (FIS racing) and I will also personally own the coaching for a subset of that bigger group (those born in 2001).  I’m excited for the new challenge and really happy to relocate about one hour from where I grew up (just over the border from Jay Peak, VT) so I can see my family in Québec more regularly.  I’m not married and I don’t have kids so one of my greatest pleasures when I have time off is spending time with my parents, my siblings and their kids (nieces and nephew.)  I am pretty pumped about the Kingdom Trails network of mountain bike trails over there too!


Dear JP:

JP and MC

Coach JP adjusts Matthieu’s boot at a race.

You are a man of your words. You helped out many young athletes through your years as a ski coach. You have many stories and never ending jokes to entertain us.

Always finding the good in either a ski video or mistake, you have been there for me for the past two years and gave me many tricks in the ski world that you also used as a ski racer when you were my age.

We are all sad to see you leave this year and are worried about the hole that will be created in the Northwood community. We know you are moving on to do great things in the ski world. You will be missed JP and best of luck at your next job!


Matthieu Cote


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