South Burlington, Vermont native Linley Shaw comes from a long line of Panther athletes. Her grandfather, Gale H. Shaw Jr. ’53 and aunt Danielle Shaw Virtue ’82 were both All-Americans as well as captains of their respective skiing teams. Additionally, Shaw’s cousin, Kara, graduated in 2015 and was a key member of last winter’s carnival team.
Linley, a captain on this year's alpine skiing team, is a member of Middlebury’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), a mentor at a nearby elementary school and has been a tour guide on campus.
Why did you decide to attend Middlebury?
I loved that Middlebury offered students so many opportunities in what seems like middle-of-nowhere Vermont. I wanted a college with small class sizes so I wouldn’t get lost as a student and where I could develop meaningful relationships with my professors.
Even though I’m from Vermont, I wasn’t against staying local for college. Middlebury was close enough to home that I could drive back to see my family when I wanted, but also far enough away that it felt like a new place.
What sparked your interest in Middlebury?
Growing up in South Burlington, Vermont, I have known about Middlebury for as long as I can remember. Middlebury hosted the Vermont state swim meet when I was eight or nine and I remember thinking that the pool was so pristinely clean. I told my mom then that I wanted to go to Middlebury.
After graduating from high school, I was hoping to continue playing field hockey and skiing in college. Middlebury’s ski team was the most appealing to me because of the Snow Bowl’s proximity to campus. Middlebury has the best training compared to the other college teams that have to travel an hour or two to get to their mountain. I knew that the Snow Bowl’s proximity would give me an opportunity to improve.
My family’s involvement with the ski team in years past also influenced my decision. My grandfather, aunt and my cousin are all Middlebury ski team alums.
Middlebury also had a successful field hockey program that I wanted to be a part of. The sunset view from Peter Kohn Field was the final deciding factor whether or not to apply to Middlebury.
What other activities do you participate in outside of class and alpine skiing?
I am a mentor at Beeman Elementary School. I visit my mentee every week to hang out, play games or do schoolwork. I am part of the Sherwood Society that organizes and hosts an event every year to raise money for a local charity.
My freshman and sophomore years, I was also an admissions tour guide. This year as a junior, I joined the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and I’m currently on the diversity and inclusion committee. I was also on the field hockey team for my first two years here at Middlebury.
How have you balanced your academic class load with your athletic schedule?
I’ve found the most time-consuming aspect of being on a sports team is the travel time. It’s hard for me to use travel time to get homework done, but I’ve learned to manage my time well and be efficient getting things done before or after getting on the vans. Otherwise, I’ve tried to use practice as my time to get out all my energy so that I can be productive later at the library. Coffee helps too!
At what age did you find a love for skiing, enough to continue to pursue it at such a high level here at Middlebury?
I have been skiing with my family since I was two. My mom always says she’s surprised I made it this far considering how much I disliked skiing when I was younger. I started to enjoy it as I got older but it I didn’t think I was talented enough to ski on a college team. I didn’t talk to any college coaches until my senior year of high school. In fact, Coach Bartlett was the only coach I reached out to and wanted to chat with.
I had always looked up to the Middlebury skiers when I was younger, so I was psyched when Coach Bartlett finally told me that I could have a spot on the team. I was so nervous to ski with them at first, but that quickly faded when I realized how supportive they were. The women’s team was really competitive with each other in practice last year, pushing one another to ski faster than the run before. We had so much fun with it and the competitive dynamic added to our team’s success. The results showed our hard work when we sent a full women’s team to the NCAA Championship last year.
What are you taking for J term?
This J term, I am taking Oratory Studio, an intensive public speaking course, with Professor Dana Yeaton. Thus far, I have given three speeches through the first three weeks. We’re currently working on preparing for a final talk at the end of the term.
Last summer, you participated in MiddCORE. Can you describe some of the highlights of that experience?
At MiddCORE, I created a dress-sharing network called Share to Wear. Share to Wear is a service in which young women can lend and rent dresses. Ideally, the service would cater to two types of women. The first type would be young women who have dresses hanging in their closet that they don’t wear often. The second type would be women who are looking to wear a dress other than what they own but don’t want to pay a fortune for it.
The women who rent the dresses would pay an inexpensive fee between $5 and $20, and the women who lend the dresses would receive that money as extra pocket cash. I have been working at the Old Stone Mill to try and bring the idea to Middlebury, and I’m hoping to get a team together to launch the project in the spring.
You are a captain on this year’s team as a junior. You joined the team as a freshman walk-on skier, so please talk about how you have changed and evolved to get to where you are now as a member of the carnival team.
When I started at Middlebury, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be on either the field hockey or skiing team. I worked really hard over the summer to be in the best shape I could possibly be in when I went into field hockey tryouts and before I talked with Coach Bartlett. People think of me as this great two-sport athlete, but I was very close to not being on either team. I was definitely behind my teammates' abilities so I had to put extra hours into both field hockey and skiing to be competitive at their level.
Now that I am a more confident skier, I am learning how to continue to improve even though the gap between me and my teammates may not be as wide. One thing field hockey head coach Katharine DeLorenzo taught me is how to be “coachable.” I worked a lot with her on the specifics of each movement I made and how that would be the difference between a slow move and an efficient one. I found I was able to translate that lesson from field hockey into ski racing. I think my ski coaches would agree that they were surprised how I could take their advice and improve my skiing from run to run.
As a captain, I hope that I can set a good example for my team both on and off the hill. We have a lot of talented skiers this year with so much potential. I would be psyched to see everyone feel accomplished at the end of the year and with medals hanging around their necks!
Note - The inserted photo above shows of members of the Shaw family. Middlebury alums Gale H. Shaw Jr. '53 (seated front row second from right) and Danielle Shaw Virtue '82 (seated front row far right) along with Linley Shaw '17 (second row standing, second from right) gathered for a photo during the Virtue Field House dedication in January 2015. (photo provided by Linley Shaw)