While most Minnesotans have had their fill of winter and snow, Aten-Wa Theba is enjoying every minute of it.
Theba, 13, is a rising star in the world of snowboarding. The seventh grader at St. Paul Academy is currently ranked eighth nationally in boardercross snowboarding and is moving up the ranks in slope-style snowboarding.
Theba is also a bit of an anomaly as one of the few African-American competing in the sport. He just returned from a national event in Colorado and the budding star said of the 5,000 people he sees at competition, maybe 30 are people of color.
Theba and his father, Anthony Taylor-Theba, hope to change that.
“My dad runs a program that gets African-Americans and people of color into skiing and snowboarding, so I hope what I’m doing can get more people into these (winter) sports,” said Theba.
That program is Major Taylor 365. Major Taylor 365 offers weekend lessons in skiing and snowboarding for people of color at Afton Alps. Taylor-Theba said he sees between 30 and 35 new adventurers each session.
“Our goal is to offer culturally sensitive learning and to make it affordable,” said Taylor-Theba, founder of Major Taylor 365. “And what we’re hearing from those in the sport is they want to diversify the sport.”
Young Theba has been snowboarding for eight years and competes as a member of G Team, which trains at Hyland Hills, and is a member of the sponsored team, Donek Snowboard. His ultimate goal is to compete in the 2026 Winter Olympic Games. He’s already training with Olympic athletes at the U.S.A. training center in Park Center, Utah … athletes from the U.S., Korea and Australia.