Giving the Sport of Youth Mountain Biking the Same Spirit and Respect, as Other School Sports

Giving the Sport of Youth Mountain Biking the Same Spirit and Respect, as Other School Sports


>>THREE, TWO, ONE.>>TERRI: TODAY WE’RE GOING TO LEARN ABOUT AN ORGANIZATION THAT IS GIVING THE SPORT OF YOUTH MOUNTAIN BIKING THE SAME FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS SPIRIT, RESPECT AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT AS OTHER MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS. JOIN US AS WE CATCH UP WITH PETER HUFFNAGLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NICA VIRGINIA INTERSCHOLASTIC CYCLING LEAGUE. COME ON!>>ANNOUNCER: JACK AUSTIN. WHAT’S UP JACK?>>TERRI: PETER, LET’S START OUT BY TALKING ABOUT HOW THE YOUTH63 CYCLING PROGRAM GOT STARTED IN OUR COMMUNITY, RIGHT HERE AT MILLER SCHOOL.>>PETER: YEAH, SO MILLER SCHOOL HAS BEEN THE HUB OF THE CYCLING MOVEMENT HERE IN CHARLOTTESVILLE. IN 2010, I PROPOSED THE IDEA OF CREATING AN ELITE LEVEL CYCLING TEAM HERE AT THE SCHOOL, AND FORTUNATELY THE SCHOOL WAS VERY SUPPORTIVE. WE CREATED A FIVE YEAR PLAN OF HOW WE WANTED TO NOT JUST BUILD A PROGRAM HERE AT MILLER SCHOOL BUT PROVIDE A MODEL FOR OTHER SCHOOLS TO FOLLOW AND AN INFRASTRUCTURE FOR RACING TO TAKE PLACE AT THE HIGH SCHOOL AND MIDDLE SCHOOL LEVEL.>>TERRI: AND YOU HAD SPECIFIC GOALS AND A MISSION, SO TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THAT BECAUSE YOU STARTED WITH SOME REALLY GREAT GOALS.>>PETER: YEAH, SO THE IDEA WAS YOU KNOW IF WE’RE GOING TO DO THIS WE’RE GOING TO DO IT REALLY WELL. IN FACT, WE’RE GOING TO DO IT BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE HAS IN THE WORLD, SO OUR AMBITION WITH THE MILLER SCHOOL CYCLING TEAM WAS BASICALLY TO PROVIDE A PROGRAM FOR THE BEST YOUTH ATHLETES IN THE WORLD TO COME TOGETHER AT A SCHOOL AND COMBINE THEIR PASSION AND GOALS WITH CYCLING WITH A HIGH LEVEL EDUCATION, SO I OFTENTIMES TELL PEOPLE, IT’S KIND OF LIKE HOGWARTS BUT INSTEAD OF WIZARDS, THEY’RE ELITE LEVEL ATHLETES.>>TERRI: WELL, AND YOU GUYS YOU HAD THAT WHOLE ANALOGY OF FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. YOU WANT IT TO HAVE THE SAME ATTENTION, STUDENTS LETTER IN THE SPORT, YOU KNOW THAT OTHER SPORTS HAVE HAD, TRADITIONALLY FOR YEARS.>>PETER: YEAH, SO THE OTHER PIECE OF THIS IS YOU CAN HAVE TENTS AND YOU CAN HAVE A FINISH LINE AND YOU CAN HAVE ALL THE COOL STUFF THAT MAKES AN EVENT LOOK LIKE AN EVENT, BUT THAT’S REALLY FOR THE SPECTATORS AND THE ATHLETES WHEN THEY’RE ROLLING UP TO THE START LINE. THE REAL EXCITEMENT HAPPENS DEEP IN THE WOODS WHEN THEY’RE OFF RACING, WHICH MEANS YOU HAVE TO HAVE TRAILS. YOU HAVE TO HAVE GOOD TRAILS THAT KIDS ENJOY RIDING, SO THIS HAS BEEN AN ADDED VALUE TO WHAT WE’VE CREATED. THERE’VE BEEN OVER 50 MILES OF TRAILS, BUILT IN VIRGINIA BY STUDENT ATHLETES WHO ARE BASICALLY BUILDING THEMSELVES A PLAYING FIELD. HERE AT MILLER SCHOOL WE’VE BUILT FOURTEEN MILES OF MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS, AND WE USE THE CAMPUS FOR LOCAL PRACTICES FOR DIFFERENT CHARLOTTESVILLE TEAMS. WE OBVIOUSLY USE IT FOR THE MILLER SCHOOL’S PROGRAM, WE HAVE ADULTS WHO COME RIDE ON THEM,1″x AND IT’S BEEN A COMMUNITY BUILDER.>>TERRI: IN THE SUMMER TIME YOU HAVE CAMPS FOR LITTLE KIDS.>>PETER: YEAH, SO IN THE SUMMER WE HAVE CUTAWAY BIKE CAMPS, AND THESE RANGE FROM SIX YEAR OLD ATHLETES ALL THE WAY THROUGH 18 YEAR-OLD ATHLETES. IN TOTAL WE HAVE ABOUT 300 KIDS COME ON TO CAMPUS FOR MOUNTAIN BIKE CAMP, THE SAME WAY YOU’D GO TO LACROSSE CAMP OR SOCCER CAMP. THESE KIDS ARE MOUNTAIN BIKERS. THAT’S WHAT THEY DO NOW, AND THEY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE THEIR SKILLS BY SPENDING THE WEEK HERE WITH US.>>BRIDGET: THIS YEAR I DID THE CUTAWAY PROGRAM THAT WAS THE TRAVEL CAMP, SO WE WOULD COME HERE EVERY DAY FOR ONE WEEK AND THEN WE WOULD GO ON THE MILLER SCHOOL BUSSES WITH EVERYONE AND THEN WE WOULD PARTY ON DOWN TO ANOTHER PLACE TO RIDE OUR BIKES.>>BEN: I PERSONALLY LOVE MOUNTAIN BIKING BECAUSE DOWNHILLS. THERE’S NOTHING LIKE THE FREE FEELING OF JUST COASTING DOWN A HILL.>>SYDNEY: IT HAS BEEN SO AMAZING BECAUSE NOW I HAVE A GROUP OF PEOPLE AT SCHOOL THAT I CAN TALK TO AND THAT WE SPEND TIME TOGETHER AFTER SCHOOL DOING OUR SPORT AND DOING THE THING WE LOVE.>>COLLEEN: OF COURSE THERE’S A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF PRIDE AND WE JUST LOVE TO SEE YOUR CHILDREN WORKING HARD TOWARDS A GOAL AND REALLY GAINING CONFIDENCE FROM A SPORT, AND THAT’S ONE OF THE BEST THINGS.>>NED: GETTING KIDS OUT OFF THE COUCH, GETTING KIDS ONTO TRAILS IN THE WOODS, IT’S CONTAGIOUS.>>TERRI: THIS PROGRAM IS NOW IN ALL OF OUR PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS?>>PETER: CORRECT.>>TERRI: THAT IS FANTASTIC.>>PETER: IN TOTAL WE’RE LOOKING AT JUST IN CHARLOTTESVILLE OVER 200 ATHLETES ARE PARTICIPATING IN MOUNTAIN BIKING AS THEIR PRIMARY SPORT.>>ANNOUNCER: SO WE’RE DRILLING IT TO THE LINE IT’S GONNA BE CLOSE 113 AND 123.>>PETER: SO THE RACES THEMSELVES ARE PRETTY AWESOME EVENTS, AND YOU HAVE RIDERS RANGING FROM NEO-PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES TO BEGINNERS COMING TOGETHER AND HAVING FANS CHEER THEM ON, CHALLENGING COURSES. GOING OUT THERE AND JUST FINISHING ONE OF THESE RACES IS AN ACCOMPLISHMENT.>>ANNOUNCER: WELCOME BACK!>>LUCAS: TODAY I HIT A TREE PRETTY HARD BUT STILL DIDN’T CRASH. SAM CRASHED REALLY HARD BUT STILL MANAGED TO WIN. I MEAN, PHYSICALLY YOU KNOW ANYONE CAN BE STRONG, BUT MENTALLY REALLY STRUGGLING, IT’S THE PART I STRUGGLE THE MOST WITH.>>SYDNEY: YOUR MIND ALWAYS HAS TO BE ON. IT’S KIND OF LIKE A PUZZLE. WHERE DO I GO HARD? WHERE DO I RELAX?>>SAM: THIS COURSE IS DIFFICULT. IT HAS REALLY STEEP, LOOSE GRAVEL CLIMBS WHICH ARE REALLY HARD TO KEEP TRACTION ON. YOU’VE GOT REALLY FAST, SMOOTH FUN DOWNHILL RUNS, AND THEN YOU’VE GOTTA GO RIGHT BACK TO ANOTHER CLIMB.>>JOHN: THEY ALL JUST KNOW THEY JUST HAVE TO GET UP THE HILL AND YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE GRIT AND DETERMINATION TO DO THAT, AND THAT’S WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO TEACH THE KIDS. THAT’S WHAT ALL OF THE COACHES OUT HERE ARE TRYING TO DO.>>TERRI: OKAY, SO EXPLAIN IT. WHEN PEOPLE ARE LOOKING INTO THIS, IT’S THE VIRGINIA CYCLING LEAGUE UNDER THE NICA UMBRELLA. JUST QUICKLY TELL US WHAT ALL THAT MEANS.>>PETER: YEAH SO THERE ARE TWO ENTITIES. WE HAVE THE NATIONAL INTERSCHOLASTIC CYCLING ASSOCIATION, WHICH IS A GOVERNING BODY BASED IN CALIFORNIA, AND IT’S A NON-PROFIT, AND OUR FALL LEAGUE IS PART OF THAT ORGANIZATION. THAT SERVES MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. THE ORIGINAL INTERSCHOLASTIC MOUNTAIN BIKE EVENTS HERE AT SCHOOL AND AROUND THE STATE ARE PART OF THE USA CYCLING GOVERNING BODY. USA CYCLING GOVERNS ALL LEVELS OF RACING FROM BMX PUMP TRACK RIDING TO OLYMPIC SPORTS, SO WE HAVE TWO SEASONS OF MOUNTAIN BIKING HERE IN VIRGINIA, WHICH IS UNIQUE. MOST STATES HAVE ONE SEASON. AND THE SPRING ONE IS A BIT MORE GEARED TOWARDS THOSE HIGH PERFORMING ATHLETES AND THE FALL ONE IS MORE GEARED TOWARDS JUST GETTING MORE KIDS ON BIKES, MORE KIDS RACING.>>TERRI: YEAH, AND LET’S TALK ABOUT, ANYONE IS ELIGIBLE. ANY MIDDLE SCHOOLER OR HIGH SCHOOLER IF THE PROGRAM IS IN THEIR SCHOOL IS ELIGIBLE. THEY DON’T HAVE TO BE ELITE RIDERS. TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THAT.>>PETER: MOUNTAIN BIKING IS A SPORT WHERE THERE ARE REWARDS JUST FOR DOING IT, AND ROSTERS ON TEAMS AREN’T LIMITED TO A FIVE PERSON STARTING ROSTER OR TEN PERSON STARTING ROSTER. YOU CAN HAVE A TEAM WITH 50 RIDERS, AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE ATHLETES IS ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN EVERY RACE AND DO THE SAME COURSE AND EARN POINTS FOR THEIR TEAMS, AND THEY COME IN AS BEGINNERS BUT SOMETIMES THEY PROGRESS REALLY QUICKLY AND SAY, HEY, I’VE GOT A REAL TALENT FOR THIS. A GOOD EXAMPLE IS A KID NAMED EDDIE ANDERSON FROM RICHMOND.>>TERRI: SNEAKERS. THEY CALL SNEAKERS.>>PETER: YEAH, HIS NICKNAME IS SNEAKERS. HE SHOWED UP TO A RACE IN A PAIR OF SNEAKERS AND BEAT ALL OF THE VARSITY RIDERS, WHICH WE SAID, WOW! YOU KNOW THIS KID, THIS KID’S GOT SOME TALENT. SIX MONTHS LATER HE’S SIGNING A PROFESSIONAL CONTRACT. IT TURNS OUT THAT HE HAS IN TERMS OF HIS PHYSICAL ABILITY, NUMBERS THAT EXCEED WHAT MOST TOUR DE FRANCE RIDERS HAVE. SO HE’S ON HIS WAY AND I WOULDN’T BE SURPRISED IF HE’S RACING THE TOUR DE FRANCE HERE IN THE NEXT COUPLE YEARS, AND THAT’S JUST A GREAT EXAMPLE OF SOMEONE WHO MAY NOT HAVE HAD A SPORT OR CONSIDERED HIMSELF AN ATHLETE, JUMPED INTO THE MOUNTAIN BIKE RACING SCENE HAD SOME SUCCESS AND THEN HAD THE DEVELOPING PATHWAY TO MAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL REALLY QUICKLY.>>LUCAS: I’M NOT SURE IF I WANT TO GO PRO, BUT I WILL DEFINITELY RIDE MY BIKE UNTIL THE DAY I DIE. WE’LL SEE WHERE THAT LEADS ME.>>SYDNEY: I’VE BEEN REALLY HAPPY TO TAKE TOP STEP OF THE PODIUM SOMETIMES. IT’S AN AWESOME FEELING. HERE THEY MAKE IT FEEL LIKE YOU’RE ON TOP OF THE WORLD AND IT’S REALLY, REALLY GREAT.>>JOE: KIDS ON BIKES. THAT’S NICA’S MISSION. WHEN YOU THROW A LEG OVER THE BIKE THE HELMET SHOULD BE ON AND STRAPPED. OTHERWISE THEY’RE REALLY NOT MUCH RULES OTHER THAN COME OUT, HAVE A FUN TIME AND TRY YOUR HARDEST.>>BEN: I’VE CRASHED A LOT. IT’S NOT FUN, BUT AFTER THE FIRST COUPLE CRASHES IT’S NOT BAD. IT’S JUST ONE OF THE PARTS OF IT.>>PETER: THERE ARE SPORTS ACADEMIES THERE ARE SPORTS PROGRAMS THAT WILL FOCUS ON THE SPORT. OUR MISSION IS YOU DON’T PICK ONE OR THE OTHER. YOU KNOW I WANT YOU TAKING AP CLASSES AND I WANT YOU PLANNING TO GO TO A TOP TIER COLLEGE BECAUSE ONE CRASH CAN END ALL THIS. ONE CRASH AND IT’S OVER, YOU’RE NO LONGER AN ELITE ATHLETE ANYMORE. AND ALSO, CAREERS ARE SHORT. THE AVERAGE LIFE OF A PRO-CYCLING CAREER IS FOUR TO FIVE YEARS, MAX.>>TERRI: AND TALK ABOUT THE ROLE THAT YOUR WIFE ANDREA PLAYS, PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST.>>PETER: SO YEAH, WE’RE IN A GREAT PLACE. WE HAVE 125 COACHES TOTAL ACROSS THE STATE, AND THESE PEOPLE RANGE FROM FORMER PRO MOUNTAIN BIKERS TO PARENTS WITH SOME EXPERIENCE MOUNTAIN BIKING BUT WHO WANT TO COACH. THEY ALL GO THROUGH A TRAINING PROGRAM WHERE THEY LEARN TO TEACH MOUNTAIN BIKE SKILLS. THEY LEARN WILDERNESS FIRST AID SKILLS. SO WHEN THEY ARE WORKING WITH KIDS, THEY ARE EXPERTS IN WHAT THEY’RE DOING, BUT WE ALSO HAVE GREAT PEOPLE LIKE ANDREA WHO RACED PROFESSIONALLY FOR TEN YEARS, WON A STAGE OF THE WOMEN’S TOUR DE FRANCE WAS A MULTIPLE TIME MEMBER OF THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM FOR THE UNITED STATES, AND SHE SPEARHEADED THIS WHOLE THING. SHE’S OUR LEAGUE DIRECTOR, SO HER ABILITY TO GO WORK WITH COACHES USING HER EXPERIENCE AND HER PASSION FOR CYCLING IN GENERAL AND WHAT IT CAN DO FOR SOMEONE’S LIFE AND FOR SOMEONE’S SELF-CONFIDENCE, I THINK, IS INSPIRING FOR BOTH OUR COACHES AND INSPIRING FOR OUR ATHLETES.>>COLLEEN: NICA IS WORKING TO BUILD STRONG MINDS AND STRONG BODIES AND ATHLETES THAT HAVE CHARACTER, AND I JUST SEE ALL OF THAT WORKING TOGETHER. I JUST THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY THE ATHLETES ARE JUST VERY PROUD OF WHAT THEY’VE ACCOMPLISHED.>>SAM: THEY HAVE TO TRAIN, IT’S HARD WORK OUT THERE. THEY HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO FIX THEIR BIKE OUT THERE IN THE WOODS ALL BY THEMSELVES. THEY HAVE TO DO ALL THAT STUFF AND SO, IT’S ADVENTURE, YOU KNOW?>>PETER: THESE RACES ARE SERIOUS BUSINESS. WHEN THE KIDS GET OUT THERE THEY ARE TACKLING HILLS, ROCKS, ROOTS, THE COURSES ARE CHALLENGING. IT RANGES FROM A 3.2 MILE RACE FOR OUR YOUNGEST COMPETITORS TO A 16 MILE RACE FOR OUR VARSITY ATHLETES, AND WE DO LAPS, SO A LAP IS ROUGHLY 3.2 MILES. A MIXTURE OF SINGLE TRACK TRAILS, GRAVEL ROADS, A LITTLE BIT OF GRASS. OUR TOP ATHLETES ARE KNOCKING THAT LAP OUT IN 16-18 MINUTES AND SOME OF OUR BEGINNER RIDERS ARE DOING IT OUT IN ROUGHLY 40-45 MINUTES.>>TERRI: SO WHAT ARE YOUR BIG GOALS FOR THE FUTURE? YOU ALL HAVE ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED SO MUCH. WHAT IS IT? WHAT ELSE IS ON THE HORIZON?>>PETER: YEAH, SO WE ORIGINALLY CREATED A FIVE-YEAR PLAN, BUT QUICKLY REALIZED THIS IS GOING TO BE SOMETHING THAT WE HOPE TO GROW FOR THE NEXT 20, 30 YEARS. SO I HOPE TO BE WATCHING THE NEXT OLYMPICS AND SEE A FEW OF OUR ATHLETES REPRESENTING THE UNITED STATES, WHICH IS VERY MUCH IN THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY RIGHT NOW, WITH THE BIGGER PLAN OF GROWING MOUNTAIN BIKING AND EXPANDING IT TO OTHER PARTS OF THE STATE. MY GOAL IS FOR EVERY SCHOOL IN VIRGINIA TO HAVE A MOUNTAIN BIKE TEAM, AND TO HAVE ONE MORE OPPORTUNITY FOR KIDS TO BE PART OF A TEAM, TO GAIN ALL THAT SELF-CONFIDENCE YOU GET FROM BEING AN ATHLETE AND HOPEFULLY YOU KNOW HAVE RACES WITH 2,000, 3,000 KIDS.>>BEN: BIKING FOR MY HIGH SCHOOL IS A REALLY IMPORTANT PART OF WHO I AM. IT ALLOWS ME TO MEET A LOT OF NEW PEOPLE AND ALLOWS ME TO HAVE OPPORTUNITIES THAT I WOULDN’T HAVE HAD BEFORE.>>SYDNEY: IT’S SOMETHING I CAN DO WITH MY FAMILY AND MY FRIENDS AS WELL, BUT ALSO WHEN YOU COME TO RACES THERE ARE PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER VIRGINIA THAT ARE SUCH COOL PEOPLE THAT WE SHARE THE SAME INTERESTS. IT’S REALLY, EVERYONE WHO DOES IT IS SUPER NICE.>>BRIDGET: I REALLY LIKE IT AND I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE SHOULD MOUNTAIN BIKE. IT’S JUST SO MUCH FUN.>>ANNOUNCER: THAT WAS A HARD FOUGHT RACE. LESS THAN 20 SECONDS SEPARATING THESE TWO.