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Park City Rotary Club names Dar Hendrickson as this year's Professional Citizen of the Year

(L-R) Megan McKenna, Bryon Friedman, Dar Hendrickson, Bob Marsh, Ted Ligety, Adam Cole, Evan Friedman
Bryon Friedman
(L-R) Megan McKenna, Bryon Friedman, Dar Hendrickson, Bob Marsh, Ted Ligety, Adam Cole, Evan Friedman

The Park City Rotary Club Tuesday gave its Professional Citizen of the Year Award to Duane “Dar” Hendrickson, a long-time ski coach for the youngsters enrolled in the fabled Devo Program of the Park City Ski Team.

The Professional Citizen Award is named after the late Linda Singer-Berrett a local educator and Park City Rotary’s first female president.

Hendrickson, a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and a ski racer in college, came to Park City in 1979.

He proposed the Devo program in 1987, according to Bob Marsh, who ran the Park City Ski Team’s Junior Racing Program from the mid-1970's to the mid-90's.

Marsh told the Rotary audience that Hendrickson raised coaching to an art form for thousands of youngsters, 9 and 10 years old. He discussed some of the rules that were set down for Dar’s Devos.

“The first one, still the most important one, is to have fun. Ski fast, don’t get caught and let the mountain terrain do the rest,” Marsh said. “Being able to ski trees was the most important requirement for the group. And for a bunch of nine to ten-year olds, that was easy. To this day, there are many hidden trails all around the Park City Mountain, and they’re gems, and they were named by Dar and all the Devos. And those names, and new ones, live on today.”

Other principles, Marsh said, included commitment, a positive attitude, and some iron-clad rules of responsibility, such as don’t let the coach catch your parents carrying your skis for you.

One of Dar’s students in attendance Tuesday was Park City native and two-time Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety. He said that Hendrickson has been an important person in his career.

“In thirty years of racing, I’ve had countless coaches, who have made an impact in various ways,” Ligety said. “But I have more memories of Dar, that my friends and I still laugh at today than at any other time. I’ve learned more in a year with Dar than many years, over the career of a professional ski-racing career. So as a community we’ve been exceptionally lucky to have Dar, that long-time fixture of Park City skiing. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award, that has more of a lasting impact on Park City’s kids than Dar. He has been a rite of passage for us Devos.”

Hendrickson told the Rotary that while some people collect cars, he collects skiers. He said he was very humbled to receive the award.

“When Bob [Richer] called me up, to ask that I come by his office,” Hendrickson said, “I was, like, thinking I was in trouble, going to the principal’s office, what have I done? When he told me, I was emotional and floored. And I feel blessed to have chosen this town to live in, that a skier is an important part of the community. And I think that just says a lot about our community. We are a ski community. And I’m just blessed to be here.”

He also thanked his wife, Leslie Thatcher, for her support through many years of being a “ski widow.” Thatcher, KPCW’s long-time news anchor, was honored herself as Professional Citizen in 2015. Rotarian Bob Richer noted that Hendrickson and Thatcher are one of five couples that have been honored with Citizen Awards by the Park City club.

Hendrickson and this year’s Volunteer Citizen, philanthropist Beano Solomon, will appear as grand marshals in the Miner’s Day Parade on Main Street September 5th.