Instructor Profile #10: Joel Sager
His mountain was only about 126 feet (the approximate size of Valley East and West). He became a certified instructor at 18 and was the racing director a year later. The certification process was different then and Joel was one of only 35 who passed out of the 235 who took the exam. As a certified instructor, Joel could ski for free all over and usually had free lodging as well. He remembers a “life lesson” during that time, when he had a chance to race with Team Rossignol. Despite a two gate lead, he had a “humbling experience” as his group was beaten by two.
Joel studied music education in college, with the intention of becoming a K-12 teacher. A piano class was his nemesis and he found himself in Philadelphia instead of finishing his degree. Joel met one of the best vocal teachers in the city and remembers while the doors to the instrumental rooms were always open, those to the vocal side were shut tight. Joel still questions if they all “knew what they were doing!” He tried out for Civic Light Opera and got a part in the show Shenandoah. He got an equity card, which is somewhat challenging as you need one to audition and you can’t audition without one! He is still a member of the AEA and has his SAG and AFTRA memberships as well.
Joel acted with his brother more than once, playing — you guessed it — twins in Boys from Syracuse, a Shakespeare spoof outside Chicago In one of Joel’s first auditions, he was told to “sing Happy Birthday.” He got the part and ended up playing his twin brother’s father. The two auditioned for Radio City Music Hall (no, not as Rockettes!) and Joel did his own dance audition and then returned to do his brother’s. They later went out with the accompanist, who told Gene that his “dancing was so much better.” They switched classes on occasion in college and Joel remembers a professor’s “jaw dropped” when he came in 15 minutes late to a class in which his brother was a student. Joel also stole his brother’s applause in a Gilbert and Sullivan performance.
Other memorable acting moments for Joel include being in Camelot on Broadway with Richard Harris, as well as in the HBO version. Joel was one of 10 singers out of 600+ who auditioned. Talk about beating the odds! (If you Google HBO and Camelot, you can see Joel in his tights!) Sometimes the mistakes in live theater are the funniest memories, such as one night when the conductor fell asleep. Another time, Joel and Gene were sprites in The Tempest and had to fix a broken set piece behind an unsuspecting Prospero. Once, an actor started a scene over because everyone was hamming it up over a imaginary dead fly.
In 1988, Joel left New York and relocated to Jim Thorpe with his wife and two young sons. He had a chance to be on the ground floor in a new equity theater and wanted to stay within two hours of the city. He has been a private voice teacher for 20 years and teaches vocal technique and “harnessing things that you have no control over.” Singing is an “emotional commitment to words” and once he had a student too young for love finding an emotional connection with a snowmobile!
Joel has been an instructor at Blue Mountain since 2000. He “locked his skis away for a couple of years” and switched from skiing to snowboarding when he noticed more school group kids taking snowboarding lessons. Back then, the snowboarders were in a trailer in the Valley and he fondly recalls people “playing soccer in the mud with an empty beer can,” and also how accepting the snowboarding staff was.
Around the same time, Joel became the “student that wouldn’t go away” at the Northeastern Pennsylvania Kayak School, picking up lifejackets and helping out. He became a kayak instructor and says kayaking is “exactly like skiing, if someone put a plastic bag on your head when you fall.”
While still in New York, Joel’s wife was told to “stay away from that guy in the cut-off overalls — he’s bad news.” Two weeks later, they dated, and 32 years ago they were married. She has an enthusiastic tennis family who asked “how’s his backhand” when she first brought Joel home. In years of playing tennis with his wife, Joel’s percentage has not been favorable. He has only beaten her twice — but that’s how he learned she was pregnant each time. His son Mike is a level 3 snowboard instructor in Vermont and his son Ted is an exceptionally young computer systems architect in Royersford. Joel is also blessed with the “reason you have kids,” his 9 year old granddaughter, and fulfills his grandfather role admirably as he “fills her with sugar and sends her home.”
3/2/2017 06:27:16 pm
You picked a great person to profile!
11/29/2020 08:23:18 am
This was great to read thank you.
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Welcome! This site was originally intended to focus on skiing and snowboarding, but I've included marathons and some family adventures as well. Thanks for visiting.