GORHAM — Steve DeAngelis approached the red carpet, and he talked about Ruslan Reiter. A senior on DeAngelis’ Nordic ski team at Maranacook Community High School, Reiter was a finalist for the Wow Factor award at the Varsity Maine Awards.

“I’m nervous for Ruslan,” DeAngelis, himself a finalist for Coach of the Year, said. “More than anything tonight, I want him to win.”

Reiter was equally cheering for his coach.

“He’s so dedicated. He helps everyone a lot. He really enjoys doing what he does,” Reiter said.

On Tuesday night, both Reiter and DeAngelis went home with the winner’s custom made snowboard.

Steve DeAngleis has coached Nordic skiing at Maranacook for 32 years, but he’s never coached an athlete like Reiter before.

“Everybody has the dream, when you’re coaching, one of your athletes in going to go on and be an Olympian or be a professional player, something like that. But that’s not why you do it,” DeAngelis said.

With his spot on the United States Paralympic Nordic team, Reiter, who was born without a right hand, has consistently made DeAngelis shake his head in amazement. For four years, everyday he coached Reiter, DeAngelis experienced the wow factor.

“He’s had totally new experiences, and he’s learning how to deal with that,” DeAngelis said.

Since joining the United States Paralympic Noridc team, Reiter has skied in Finland and South Korea. He’s come back from those trips more assertive, DeAngelis said.

“Ruslan was super-quiet,” DeAngelis said. “He’s always worked very hard. Since he got involved with Paralympics, his confidence has really gone up. That’s the biggest thing. He’s a chatterbox now compared to what he was. He’s more of a leader on the team. I don’t have to dig to get information out of him as much.”

Reiter was quiet and humble in victory, accepting his snowboard trophy with a handshake and a nod. The first person on their feet when Reiter’s name was announced as the winner was DeAngelis. He was joined by Reiter’s family, and Bruce Hunter, who — as the guy who waxes and gets the Maranacook Noridc team’s skis ready for competition — was a finalist for the Unsung Hero Award.

The last year has moved fast for Reiter. One of his biggest supporters on this new journey is DeAngelis. Even as Reiter plans and prepares to graduate from Maranacook next month, DeAngelis is still one of his important mentors.

“I’ve been doing Nordic since seventh grade, and he’s been at Maranacook a long time,” Reiter said. “I definitely talked to him about the trip and plans for, hopefully, the 2018 (Olympic) Games… He’s been giving me some nice tips.”

After each had been announced as a winner, DeAngelis still deflected attention in all directions. First, back to Reiter.

“Wow Factor, how could you not pick that kid?” DeAngelis said. “With everything he’s accomplished?”

Then, DeAngelis passed credit on to the entire Maranacook Nordic ski program.

“We really do have a community program. Everyone is 100 percent, all in,” DeAngelis, who also was nominated for Coach of the Year last year, said. “When every kid sets goals and reaches them, it’s so fun to see.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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