A Waterville Valley Academy sixth grader, Tommy Bavaro, is the recipient of the first annual Michael Lillis Spirit Award. The award celebrates the life of ‘Mikey’ Lillis, a 17-year-old member of the US Ski & Snowboard Elite Aerial Development Program based in Lake Placid who died unexpectedly in his sleep in October 2017. All three of Mikey’s brothers are members of the US Ski & Snowboard team and his oldest brother competed in the Aerials event at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The Michael Lillis Spirit Award honors the East Coast athlete that best embodies Mikey’s qualities of teamwork, friendship, hard work, fun and love of the sport.
The Waterville Valley Academy, BBTS and Waterville Valley Elementary School community should be so proud of Tommy as it was all of the Eastern coaches that voted for him as the first-ever recipient of the Michael Lillis Spirit Award.
Tommy’s mom, Sara, said, “It is humbling to me that the East Coast coaches see Tommy for who we know him to be, a kind, outgoing, hard working, supportive, mischievous and fun-loving boy. The Freestyle community allows him to be his best self in the sport he loves so dearly, and for that we are so grateful.”
Sara noted that the award was the icing on the cake for Tommy as he had performed well in last weekend’s competition, “With a lot of great skiing and he was second overall (not age group) in Aerials.”
The Bavaro family, mom Sara, dad Guy, and younger sister Gabriella, live in Waterville Valley year-round. Guy commutes to New York City during the week and joins his family on weekends. Both Tommy and Gabriella attend Waterville Valley Elementary School (WVES). Gabriella is a first grader and Tommy is a sixth grader.
Like most kids, Tommy starts school in September, but by November he takes his WVES curriculum and transfers to the Waterville Valley Academy (WVA) for the winter term.
WVA is a snowsports and academic academy located right here in Waterville Valley. Tommy and nearly 70 other student/athletes are provided with the highest level of coaching and competition in alpine racing, freestyle skiing and snowboarding in conjunction with an individualized academic program. WVA seamlessly integrates each WVA student’s home school curriculum (via faculty driven individualized studies) with his or her athletic training and competition schedule.
One of the benefits of living, learning and training in Waterville Valley is that Tommy and his class/teammates get to watch their role models in world-class competitions.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team athletes have arrived in Waterville Valley for the 2018 US Freestyle Championships. The resort community is excited to welcome the moguls portion of this national event back to where it all began and back to the East Coast for the first time since 2012.
This type of world-class event, happening at our home mountain, is nirvana for kids like Tommy Bavaro.
His mom told me, “He is ecstatic today as he spent the afternoon skiing with members of the US Ski Team at Waterville Valley for the moguls championships. He has trained in the summer with Troy Murphy, and was able to ski with him, Casey Andringa and several others all over our mountain. I’m not sure he will be able to sleep tonight!”
Sara added, “I know I’m his mom, but he really is an excellent young man.” And, if I might add, he’s an extremely lucky young man to have parents providing him with the opportunity to shoot for the stars…or should I say, shoot for gold…!
You can watch the best freestyle athletes in the Moguls Finals on Friday, March 23, and Dual Moguls Finals on Saturday, March 24. Rumor has it that Tommy will be forerunning the races on Friday.
Head over to Lower Bobby’s Run to watch the moguls action. Spectators on foot can take a free ride up the Valley Run quad to access the course and cheer on world-class competitors.
While you’re there rooting for your favorite skiers, say hello to Tommy. You’ll recognize him. He’s the kid with the huge smile on his face.