Every weekday for 30 years, Gary Coble would drive down roads framed with overgrown brush on his way to work at Western Harnett High School near Lillington, North Carolina. He never tapped the brakes to peak through the bushes and into the clearings off the gravel shoulders.
Coble's daughter, 1997 U.S. Masters champion April Coble, was just as oblivious, not suspecting anything strange about what was in those woods near the family home. Neither did anyone else in the community.
Boy, are those Carolinians surprised to see what's off to one side of Ross Road today. Where once there was a virtual wall of scrub, there is now a 250-acre expanse, 10 spring-fed lakes, four MasterCrafts, slalom courses, jump ramps and skiers cutting and flipping off in every direction.
This is Coble Ski School, the largest mass of staff, lakes and boats east of the Mississippi. Take away the Crafts, the people and the buoys, and this is the same haven that had been hiding in the sticks for who knows how long. It was under cover until a friend of the Cobles flew over it one day and told Gary and April to take up their sickles and check it out.
Every day I look out and can't believe we found this place, says April, who opened the ski school with her mom, dad and sister Valerie in 1995. People who've been here forever say they never knew there were lakes back here.
The lakes are byproducts of sand and gravel pits that were dug decades ago. It wasn't until the Cobles bought the land and cleared some of the growth that anyone besides the gravel crew knew a treasure had been hiding in there, namely, water.
As you might expect from lakes that come in contact only with ski-school instructors and students, all 10 are tailor-made for skiing and wakeboarding. They're so virgin that when the MasterCrafts aren't running, the water could serve another purpose if necessary: drinking.
We have so many lakes and so much land that it's a shame we only use part of it, says April.
That's about to change. Plans are in the works to give company to the 12 members of the ski staff. Dive instructors will soon have a field day in the tap-clear water. And with enough country space to accommodate all the Girl Scouts of America, summer camps are right around the corner.
For the time being, skiers and boarders have dibs on the property. Everyone else just has a reason to pause and look.
Categories: Site to Ski