Nicole Dreon skied the slopes of Gore as a youth growing up North Creek. She's now a sports journalist who's searched Africa for the stories of women athletes. Here, she poses with female boxers.
Skiing a glacier in Uganda’s Rwenzori mountains evoked a childhood on North Creek’s local slope for returning African adventurer Nicole Dreon, who presented a slideshow on her travels at Tannery Pond Oct. 26.
“It was just as icy as Gore, but not as cold,” she said.
She attended Johnsburg Central and cut her skiing teeth on Gore’s trails through grade eight, when she transferred to a Vermont ski academy.
She said she has a lot of funny stories from growing up in the Crick, though “I don't know if they would be fit to print.”
Now a sports writer and photographer based in Truckee, California, Dreon does research for ESPN and the X Games. She toured Africa in 2010 seeking female athletes’ stories, wanting to know how an environment of war, disease and poverty is seen through their eyes.
She met prep school motocross racers, doctorate-educated rugby players and a mother of four who moonlights as an off-road rally racer.
The athletes that stood out to her the most were Ugandan boxers. The male boxers from the country are renowned for their skill and toughness, but at an awards show for the sport, Dreon saw no female boxers.
She found them in Katangan slums, training in open-air gyms with no gloves because they couldn’t afford them. They box for $25 to $50 a match, when one boxer she met earned $3 a day as a seamstress.
Her path to Africa began in college, where she studied abroad in Kenya. In her early 20s, she backpacked from Nairobi to Capetown.
After she left St. Lawrence University, where she was a creative writing major, she worked for a now-shuttered magazine in Truckee called Adventure West. She then briefly took over the sports page at the Tahoe World in nearby Lake Tahoe.
Her most recent research trip grew from her long-time passion for sports, a passion that took root at North Creek’s ski complex.
“Those days from Gore Mountain have been really formative,” said Dreon.
North Creek gave her a great foundation, she said. The community was very supportive, with people who recognized Dreon and her accomplishments.
“It gave me a lot of confidence,” she said.
As she's lived in larger cities, she said she's missed the quirkyness of small town life in North Creek.
People interested in working in journalism like Dreon should get as much hands-on experience as possible, she said.
Get some work submitted to local media outlets and be as well-read as you can, she said.
“Don't get discouraged, you will get heaps of criticism.”
Dreon said budding journalists should follow what they love, and their passion will be apparent in the resulting work.
She added that a little attention deficit disorder is not a bad thing. Having a curious, wandering mind is good, said Dreon.
While North Creek is an amazing home, said Dreon, don’t be afraid to take chances. Get out there and seek new opportunities; you can always come home for a presentation at Tannery Pond.