This season we have seven excellent coaches with Brian Abery at the helm as Head Coach and six assistant coaches (in alphabetical order):

  • Nick Hall
  • Jacob Daubenburger
  • Helen Matsoff
  • Ellen McCarthy
  • Kevin Robertson
  • Derek Schlager

Rachel Downing is taking a season off to focus on "other" priorities. (See more below!)

They each invest an incredible amount of time and energy into this large team of skiers. For that we are so grateful.


About our coaches...

Brian Abery, Head Coach


He's got some favorite quotes to share:

  • "Having fun and focusing on the process of skiing leads to much better outcomes than an emphasis on race placings and times."
  • "Nordic skiing is 110% perspiration (i.e. effort) with the remaining 20% based on the genes one gets from parents."
  • "Ski the tracks...they are your friend."

Jacob Daubenberger, Assistant Coach


Nick Hall, Assistant Coach


Nick has five kids with two kids on the team - Ashlyn (9th grade) and Ethan 12th grade) - with some future skiers, Klee and Sevi (both 4 years)!

Nick has been coaching Nordic skiing for 17 years (7 years with ISD 196)

He states "It's always great to meet new skiers, reconnect with our returning skiers, and see what the new season brings to the table!" He also emphasizes, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices!" Truth!

He loves nordic skiing because of both the community and the values it instills where hard work, discipline, and commitment directly correlate with skiers success.

Helen Matsoff, Assistant Coach

Helen is a former ISD196 skier from Eagan High School. She coached for three years in Madison, Wisconsin and is so excited to be back coaching for her home team!
Helen is an occupational therapist and loves talking about sports and training from a movement professional perspective.
Helen started skiing as a high school freshman, having never cross country skied before. After being introduced to the sport, she volunteered for MYSL, coached middle school, and facilitated adaptive skiing events. She firmly believes that everyone can learn and enjoy nordic skiing!

Ellen McCarthy, Assistant Coach

Ellen sitting on a rock in a stream in the woods

Her roles include color coordinating our coaching supplies, poking fun at Brian, and making sure the kids are warm enough.

When the skiers are skiing up a big hill, she likes to yell "V2 V2 V2!", and when she's in the heat of competition, she chants to herself, "You can do this. You are strong."

Kevin Robertson, Assistant Coach

Derek Schlager, Assistant Coach


Formerly a Burnsville High School cross-country, Nordic, and track coach for seven years, this year will be Derek's second year in the great ISD 196!  He was head coach for BHS's Nordic Ski team 2016 - 2020.  He also has been privileged to work alongside the great Andy Dodds through SSTG for the past several years.

Schlager is LOVING teaching mathematics at EVHS and looks forward to learning how to ski FAST with the ISD 196 Nordic Ski crew.

Some of his favorite quotes:

  • "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right." - Henry Ford.
  • "Judge a man by his questions rather than his answer." - Voltaire

Rachel Downing, Assistant Coach

Rachel Downing balanced on log across waterfalls

Rachel loved skiing with 196 for the past two years, but will not be back this season, because SHE IS HAVING A BABY! However, you will definitely catch her cheering at some ski meets later this year.

ISD 196 Nordic logo

ISD 196 Nordic Ski Booster Club | email:

Head Coach: Brian Abery | email: