March 2007 Athlete of the Month: Jessie Diggins

“In addition to phenomenal athletic abilities and skiing through a season undefeated, Jessie is a great team player and an emerging leader on our team.”

– Co-Head Coach Kris Hansen

School: Oak-land Junior High
Team: Stillwater Area High School
           Nordic Ski Team
Grade: Freshman
Age: 15

Jessie Diggins was asked to compete at the Varsity level with the Stillwater H.S. Nordic Ski Team during a conference championship meet, just thirty minutes before her first race.

Back then she was a seventh grader competing against a slew of upperclassmen, yet she won the freestyle portion of that very race—finishing ahead of athletes ranked in the state’s top 10—and foreshadowed the success she’s replicating many times over as a freshmen this year.

“It’s fun,” she says, referring to competition against older athletes. “Everything is so much more challenging, and seeing them race inspires me.”

Unlike other sports, junior high programs for skiers do not exist in Minnesota, so Stillwater’s coed ski team is comprised of about 140 students from 7th to 12th grade, making Jessie a three-year veteran.

“In addition to phenomenal athletic abilities and skiing through a season undefeated, Jessie is a great team player and an emerging leader on our team,” says Kris Hansen, a co-head coach with Bill Simpson.

This year Jessie went undefeated during the 06-07 racing season and earned the prized State Champion title by winning the pursuit race and turning in the fastest classical and freestyle times. For the second year in a row she is also a SEC Conference Champion and Section 3 Champion, plus a Mesabi East Invitational Freestyle Champion, another tradition she began in eighth grade.

“That’s when I first realized that I could really do it,” Jessie says.

Daughter of Deb and Clay Diggins, Jessie credits her parents for teaching her how to ski when she was only three years old.

“My parents are great coaches. They taught me so much about how to ski, train and enjoy it. They also make sure that my skis are as fast as they possibly could be.”

Joining the Minnesota Youth Ski League at only 4 years old, and eventually training seven days a week, year round, while also competing with the Stillwater Area team, have done her wonders.

Bruce Adelsman,

“Jessie has developed significantly on every level: physically she is stronger and more fit, her technique has become more refined, and psychologically she’s learned a lot about how to race and how to train,” Hansen says.

This dedication has earned Jessie personal recognition, but also helped her team greatly, which typically combines times from its top four or five skiers to get a team score in its meets. As a team Stillwater was undefeated in conference meets, won the Suburban Easy Conference title, the Section 3 title, and then finished second place at State.

“I love the Stillwater ski team,” Jessie says. “We have so many great people.”

Competing for individual and team honors seem to be Jessie’s niche. She also runs with the track team and qualified for section finals in the 300-meter hurdles and 4 x 400 relay last season. Her season with the swim team was just as successful, where she qualified for section finals in the butterfly.

Then there’s Orchestra, where Jessie—a member of the National Junior Honor Society—plays the violin, and once again, contributes to the success of a larger whole.

That’s not news to Coach Hansen.

“Jessie is a committed member of our team. She puts the team first and works well with other athletes and with coaches; she is part of a strong synergy that drives the whole team forward.”

As a freshman, Jessie still has three full—and if her past record is any indication, undoubtedly successful—years left with the team.