High school mountain bike team kicks off first season
Grand County’s High School mountain bike team is about to kick off its first season. The team is technically considered a club team, so it is not staffed by the high school. The team operates from the work of volunteers. Dedicated parents of Middle Park High School students, Keith Sanders, Kari Gates, and Maire Sullivan are all to thank for getting the team going.
Gates is the coach of the team. Originally from Duluth, Minn., this is her fourth year being involved in the High School Mountain Bike League. They are officially kicking off their season as a new team under the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), the governing body of the mountain bike league. Middle Park currently has somewhere between 14-20 athletes that range from seventh to 12th-graders participating in the development program for the fall season. The NICA program was first started in 2001 in California as a club sport, then grew rapidly into an official high school sport. Today 15 states are developing the program.
“The mission is to get more kids on bikes and to change the way athletics are in the school system,” Gates said. “It’s not your average stick and ball sport because every student athlete gets to play.” It’s an exciting new opportunity for the students to build self esteem, learn skill development, and have a life-long enjoyment of mountain biking. The first official practice is August 1. The team will mostly practice at Granby Ranch and Snow Mountain Ranch. There are five races throughout the season including one at Snow Mountain Ranch on September 24.
Gates has plenty of experience coaching and racing. She coached hockey and mountain biking in Duluth and raced in a women’s league there. She watched the mountain bike program develop, and saw it grow from 10 kids to about 50. She hopes that the Grand County team will see the same increase in participants. She pointed out that anyone can join the team. You do not have to be the best mountain biker with top-of-the-line gear to participate.
A huge part of the team is sponsorship and donations from the community. Gates hopes to get more local businesses involved to help the team grow and flourish in the mountain bike race circuit.
To learn more about the league go to coloradomtb.org, or for more info on joining the Middle Park team email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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