WILLSBORO — Lee Sloper Jr. has turned a passion for fixing things into a potential career following a successful run at state and national competitions recently.
Sloper, who graduated from Willsboro Central School this past spring, enrolled in a small-engine repair program at CV-TEC during his senior year, and the experience opened his eyes to a field that he had always found interesting.
“I’ve always liked being able to build things, to take things apart and put them together again,” Sloper said from his home recently. “I kind of like how all of the parts (in small engines) work together. Anything I could rip apart I was able to pretty much put back together again.”
Sloper received his first dirt bike a few years ago, and he and his father, Lee Sloper Sr., worked together on fixing the engine to improve the bike’s condition.
“That’s half the fun (in owning a dirt bike),” he said of the ability to work on the engine to make the bike as good as it can be.
He took his mechanical prowess to a higher level once enrolled at CV-TEC.
“I’ve always been a quick learner,” he said. “When I’m taught and shown something, I’m able to do it. I look at something, think about it, figure it out and go forward with fixing it.”
That ability to learn through hands-on activities seemed special to Michael Bova, Sloper’s CV-TEC instructor.
“I only had Lee for his senior year,” said Bova, noting that most students coming through the small-engine repair program spend two years working on the process. “He has a good work ethic, an outstanding work ethic.”
As Bova realized that Sloper was showing some special skills with engines, he asked the teen if he would be interested in entering the state competition for small-engine repairs.