By Deb Everts

Mary MacQueen, who serves as patrol director and instructor for the Allegany State Park (ASP) Nordic Ski Patrol, was honored at a reception at the Red House Administration Building, Jan. 26.

On behalf of the over 28,000 members of the National Ski Patrol (NSP) System, the event officially recognized her as she was presented with the National Ski Patrol’s “National Outstanding Nordic Patroller for 2018” award.

The celebration of MacQueen’s excellence was attended by members of the ASP Nordic Ski Patrol and several deputies from the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department, as well as a number of other guests and family members.

Several distinguished guests commented on her achievements including Western New York Region Director Dan Meess, Assistant Regional Director Tom Livak and Red House Manager John Snyder.

Livak said the heritage of skiing in the park goes very deep. He said as the Assistant Regional Director, he’s fortunate to be able to focus all his time on Allegany State Park, and part of that is the park’s winter recreation with skiing, snowmobiling and other snow sports. 

“I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all the dedication the ski patrol members have made since the program began in 2002 here at the park. That was a mission Mary started here and I can’t imagine the program without it,” he said. “The Art Roscoe Ski Trail System is a high caliber system and having you folks there is such an honor and service to our patrons. Our mission here is safe and enjoyable recreation for patrons and what an outstanding group you guys are.”

Training Officer Butch MacQueen said the “National Outstanding Nordic Patroller for 2018” award is the most recent of Mary’s accomplishments during her 23-year NSP career.

“I don’t think there is a way to actually put into words what this award signifies because it’s not just today’s activities and it’s not just last year’s activities; it’s a culmination of a lot of very, very hard work on the part of this individual over a number of years,” he said.

According to Butch, in order to be the “National Outstanding Nordic Patroller for 2018, Mary was up against the best Nordic Patrollers out of, first, all the regions in the Eastern Division, then all of the 13 divisions worldwide, which includes divisions in North America, a European Division and an Asian contingency. 

“The best Nordic Patrollers from all these divisions, including Mary who was the best of the Eastern Division, were put together and judged,” he said. “Out of all those, Mary was chosen as ‘the best of the best,’ which is quite an honor.”

Western New York Region Director Dan Meess said everything [Mary] MacQueen has done is to provide service to the community and to the ski patrol. 

“I think Mary’s service is outstanding. In this day and age where you see so many people just looking out for themselves, a lot of people with her experience and talent might come off as a know-it-all, but she is very modest,” he said. “Mary shows everybody how to do things without ever appearing like a know-it-all. She’s very patient and very knowledgeable and just a tremendous all-around person. I’m honored to be here with Mary as she’s presented with her award. It couldn’t go to a better person.”

As she accepted the award, MacQueen said she couldn’t have accomplished all that she has without the support of her fellow patrollers.

She said they were always willing to support her and cheer her on including people like Robin Clark who watched her dogs while she was out climbing Mount Washington and at Whiteface Mountain doing avalanche training. She also credited Butch MacQueen for driving the patrollers in the van to take them to training events.

“You guys are the backbone of why I got this award,” she said. “It’s not just my award, it’s everybody’s award because, without a patrol like you, I never could have done it. 

“It’s not just one person that makes me want to do something like this,” MacQueen continued. “It’s because you guys are so close and I love this family so much that I would do anything to be with this group. I want to thank you all for it.”

MacQueen is a Deputy Sheriff for the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department, and a licensed New York State Guide for hiking, camping and outdoor skills. She is also certified by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) as a wilderness searcher and crew boss.