Chris Waker Visits Burr and Burton

On Monday former Burr and Burton student Chris Waker visited BBA to catch up with students and faculty about perspective and resilience in the face of sudden tragedy.

Waker, who attended Burr and Burton and Stratton Mountain School, competed in snowboarding at the highest levels and went on to coach snowboarders, leveraging emotion and a growth mindset to help athletes push the boundaries of what is possible in the sport. 

In 2019, Waker was honored as Snowboard Coach of the Year by the US Ski and Snowboard Association. A little over a year later, Waker was left paralyzed in what was described as a “freak” snowboarding accident.

Waker describes lying face down in the snow, knowing that he could not feel his legs, and deciding in that moment to focus on the next right thing to do, rather than the devastating fear of his loss of movement.

Students and teachers, some that taught Waker at BBA or other places in the community, came to hear his story and learn about the approaches and mindset that have allowed Waker to recover to the greatest extent possible and refocus his work on helping others find strength and purpose.

Athletic Director Dave Miceli relayed the themes of Waker’s presentation, “All those years of high level athletic training really kicked in following his accident; his focus was on having a positive attitude and relying on a strong community.”

“Knowing that you’re likely going to fail, but not worrying that you’re going to fail–failure is necessary as part of the journey.”