Student Athlete of the Month: South Tahoe’s Brown loves nordic racing, playing the harp |

Student Athlete of the Month: South Tahoe’s Brown loves nordic racing, playing the harp

South Tahoe senior Jessie Brown competes last week at the Nevada state nordic championships at Auburn Ski Club.
Provided / Jessie Brown |

Jessie Brown was a rockstar this season for the South Tahoe Vikings nordic team.

She consistently led the Vikings girls this season at almost every cross-country skiing meet.

Off the snow, Brown is a rockstar with her sizable school and work schedule.

And when rocking out on stage, the 18-year-old high school senior needs more than a six-string instrument.

Brown keeps herself busy for sure. She needs to be in good mental and physical shape. She competes in one of the most grueling sports in the world and she’s currently taking calculus, physics, civic economics and computer programming.

She’s gearing for college where her initial thoughts are to major in aeronautical engineering and minor in cyber security.

“That’s my dream and I don’t know if it could possibly happen,” Brown said.

After school, she trains on her skis (she has since switched to swimming in preparation for the spring season) and then goes to work in some evenings as a lifeguard at the South Lake Tahoe city pool.

Brown says she’s a good student, but also a great procrastinator. That’s probably why she doesn’t like when her meets are canceled at the last minute — she has to go to school the next day and scramble to finish her homework.

For her efforts, Brown is the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s female Student Athlete of the Month.

“It’s cool, different, unexpected,” Brown said. “I got the text and said, ‘Hey mom guess what.’ And I’ve had neighbors ask me, ‘Have you gotten feedback, do you know yet?’ So it’s cool.”

“It is nice to have an athlete that puts academics above her athletics,” said Vikings head coach Mark Hoefer. “As with the majority of the athletes involved in nordic, Jessie is always concerned about her classwork and grades. It can sometimes be difficult to get her out to practice if there is a pressing need in her academics. I was proud to be able to coach Jessie in Nordic skiing for four years in high school, and I know that it is a sport that she can carry through into her adult life as well.

“It is also great to have a nordic athlete as the community’s athlete of the month, because it brings an added awareness to cross country skiing, the skiers at the highest level are considered the most fit athletes in the world, because the sport requires the use of a significant amount of human body.”

Cross country skiing may become more popular after Americans Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins earned the country’s first Olympic gold medal in the sport in a thrilling photo finish.

Brown tried alpine skiing but was “kind of traumatized” by all the equipment — the helmet, boots, skis and cold.

“I didn’t like it,” Brown said. “In nordic, we wear spandex, the skis are tiny, they’re much lighter and I think nicer.”

Brown loves nordic and loved being on the team. She enjoyed all her competitions and out of all the high school sports she’s played, it’s by far her favorite.

“I love the team and our coach creates an amazing environment,” Brown said. “I think the sport itself, I’ve been on three different sports in high school and it’s the one with the most sportsmanship. Everybody helps each other out.”

When Brown has some free time, she plays the Celtic harp, a 30-string, 4-foot tall instrument. She started with a violin. That lasted about two weeks, she said. And then she picked up the flute for two years. And finally one day she told her mom she wanted to play the Celtic harp.

“She was like, ‘You haven’t stuck with any instrument and now you go for the most expensive one,’” Brown laughed.

But after seeing a performance, she was convinced that’s what she wanted to play. The person she watched ended up being her teacher off and on for the last six to seven years. She’s entertained at one small recital and also played a couple of songs to accompany the high school choir at an event at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa.

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