glenn_photo_web.jpgIn order to attend a national ski convention that was being televised on the Black Entertainment Television network, attendees had to actually belong to a ski club. So at the prompting of his fraternity brother, Stephen Thompson did just that – forming the Sunshine Sloper’s Ski Club in Oct. 1989.

“Our first trip was to Boone, North Carolina on a bus – an 18 hour drive. We had a ball. Beach Mountain was the mountain we skied on,” Thompson reminisced.

Nineteen years later, in addition to annual ski trips to destinations across the globe, the close-knit group gathers for an annual Christmas party, book readings, white water rafting, plays and other events.

At its inception, the rapidly growing club had over 100 members in six months and today boasts over 250 people – including doctors, lawyers, teachers and juvenile probation officers like the club’s youth director, Glenn Holcomb.

A member of the club since the beginning, Holcomb said his skiing skills rate a ’10.’

“I can ski,” the 51-year old married father of three exclaimed. Holcomb’s “adventurous nature” led him to discover the sport that his wife and young children also enjoy.

As youth director, Holcomb’s job is to coordinate skiing trips as well as non-skiing events for the offspring and young relatives of club members. Youth must have relative or parent to sponsor them in order to be a part of the club.

An active member of the National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS), the Sunshine Sloper’s shares the larger group’s mission to “identify, develop and support athletes of color who will win Olympic and International winter sports competitions representing the United States.”

The NBS is a 35-year old organization with 84 clubs representing 41 cities. Its well-attended conventions have been recognized by the ski industry as the largest gathering of skiers, more than any other ski convention in the United States.

While the youth activities of Sunshine Sloper’s are open to all, the focus is primarily on black youth.

“We mainly concentrate on our kids because a lot of times our kids aren’t exposed to things like this,” Holcomb said.

A costly hobby, trips range from $750 – $3000, depending on the destination and duration.  Thompson said the cost is well worth the experience.

“Going down the slopes of five, ten, twelve thousand feet high enjoying the breeze as you slide down,” he recalled.

The club’s members come from all over South Florida with a few hailing from as far away as Jacksonville. Other ski clubs have spun off from the Sunshine group with new clubs open in Tampa and Orlando.

“We have steady regulars and we get between 20 and 40 new members each year,” said Thompson, 55, the group’s current president.

The group has belonged to the Florida Ski Council (FSC) since 1992 and was the first African-American ski club in the State of Florida.

In addition to annual ski trips, the group travels extensively to destinations across the globe. The group has visited Switzerland, Egypt and Italy and has planned a trip to Japan, China and Hong Kong in the spring.

“Some people in South Florida have never seen snow, never been to a mountain,” said Thompson. “We travel all over the world.”

The group meets at 3pm every third Sunday at the Omega Activity Center located at in Miami Gardens at 15600 NW 42nd Ave. For more information, visit the web site at

Photo: National Brotherhood member Glenn Holcomb races down the slopes at Breckenridge ski resorts.