Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
821 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all. My son races Sophomore D2 on a composite team in the SoCal league. Most of the racers attend one public high school, including my son. So far this school has been highly resistant to admitting mtb racing as an official sport. From what I understand the justifications for this have been specious at best.

Can anyone here offer any concrete advice on convincing the high school to offer mtb racing as a team sport? There is a meeting coming up with a school administrator. There some parents and the coaches plan to present their information in a non-confrontational manner, then proceed to the district level if necessary.

P.s. the local trail networks are scenic and varied- the kids can ride from school on quiet streets and be at the nearest trailhead in minutes.
 

·
It's about showing up.
Joined
·
12,738 Posts
No needs TP brainstorm or reinvent the wheel. Your very best resource for this is NICA. Its root organization, NorCal, has been working this equation since 2000.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,150 Posts
My daughter is racing independent because we can't do it any other way. Our High School not only is reluctant they told me to get lost. The athletic director told me "we don't do things for the kids here unless a teacher/coach volunteers first. We don't have the resources for something so silly as a bike racing team."

There are composite teams in the NY league but they are based too far away from us and I can't afford the time to have her be a real part of it. I work in the bike industry so can not take Saturdays off to take her to practices or the volunteer events they participate in so if the kid won't be a part of things how can I justify the cost of the team membership?

Thankfully she is currently ranked first in the state for Freshman/Sophomore girls and I am able to provide the environment necessary for her to continue to be successful. From what I understand there may be a problem going forward though, the kids are only allowed to race as independents for two years and then they need to be on a team. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it...
 

·
It's about showing up.
Joined
·
12,738 Posts
ADs can be one of the points of resistance to teams. They see a threat to what have become slender resources. Football coaches think they are god, are entitled to all the money and facilities, and we are a bunch of pansies.

Remember that engagement with the school/district need not even be through the Athletic Department. In our area most teams are viable through the school's Club program structure, like the Chess club, Adventure club or Pirates club. As such they do not tap into Athletic Department funds. Further clubs do not have to follow many of the stringent rules that Athletic Department teams must.

The principle engagement, actually, is through a sponsor on the faculty or staff. These folks act as liaisons between the team and the school. It helps a lot if they have knowledge of our sport. They formally vet us to the administration and the district.

At one school our sponsor was the photo teacher who I ultimately trained to be a ride leader, then coach. At my next team/school, our sponsor was a math teacher who did not have time to help much but was cyclist himself. Fortunately he could see how well qualified we were so he was behind us. The AD, however, made things hard for us, simply guarding resources, excluding us from traditions, not allowing us to use the Team mascot name on our jerseys and such. She had a pretty bad rep with just about everyone.

In our 4th year of existence, my second as Director, the new Principal was a mountain biker so that changed. I sought advice from the AD around issues of managing parents, funding issues, a sense of proportion, and such by using her as an expert resource in these matters and asking nothing else. By the second year of working with her I got access to some of the facilities, permission to issue Varsity and JV letters and lots of stuff like that. It took work, I still never got money but mutual respect was won.

So look at the school bike rack see which teachers use it and which of their cars have racks. That may be your sponsor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,150 Posts
Heheh, school bike rack? There are none. Bicycles are not allowed on school property. There is one teacher who rides to work at the Middle School, he stashes his bike in the woods and locks it to a tree.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
We have trails across from our local High School. My son is the Prez of the Cycling Club in the High School. It's a Club. Not much of an effort to get 10 -15 kids out for a weekly ride. It's very casual. The students are required to participate in a few clubs, and the teachers are required to be involved as advisors.

No Bicycles on School property? Rediculous.

Remember that the world is run by those who write letters and attend meetings. Sounds like you need a letter writing campaign from your local Bike Clubs.

Just curious, where are you located.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,150 Posts
Local bike club? Nope. Welcome to bassackwards Putnam County NY. The reality is most of us riders really don't have the time to maintain a serious organization so one never really developed. So many of us don't work anywhere near home so we aren't here enough to give up family/ride time for a bike club. For instance I spend at least 15 hours a week commuting, more if traffic is bad.

There is a great and very active mt bike club in Westchester but here we keep our mouths shut and go ride in the woods. The county parks dept. is generally appreciative of the local riders but the rest of the open spaces here are either state, watershed or private and things can be "difficult" so we just go ride and don't make a big stink. We have had extremely good luck getting new trail mileage opened to us in the last five years, nearly 150 miles worth, but almost lost the premier spot a few years ago because of all the stunt building. A group was organized to clean and fix it all up but then that fell apart because it wasn't necessary anymore.

Our designated county mt bike park is an absolutely wonderful place to ride a bike and I choose it over all of the other spots within two hours of home but if you don't already know it's there you probably won't find out about it unless one of us (locals) takes you in for a tour. The ranger maintains it very nicely and a few of us help to keep it in great riding shape year round. I frequently find myself coming out with my pack filled with trail trash from the dog walkers and such.

I'm sorry if I hijacked your thread LadyDi.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
821 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It's all good, gravitylover. I wish your daughter continued success in racing. Also, move here- we need more girls on the team!

Thank you, Mike, for sharing your experiences starting a h.s. mtb team/club. Such details are quite helpful. Your advice regarding Athletic Directors (at least most of them) is spot on.
 

·
J-Flo
Joined
·
1,740 Posts
Mike really said it. I would add only that many (most?) of the longstanding teams at Norcal public schools are set up as athletic "clubs" at the school, along with other sports that are not CIF recognized and usually receive no direct financial support from the school. Three of the most valuable things that association can offer are (i) access to campus resources (requires direct help from faculty or staff at the school) for recruiting and organization; (ii) access to the school's athletic fund so that tax-exempt money can be raised without having to qualify the team as a separate 501(c)(3) organization; and (iii) PE waivers for the riders.

A good faculty liaison is key to getting recognition in the first place, access (limited) to school resources, communications, meeting and storage space on campus. It helped at my son's team because the first head coach was also a math teacher. The other thing a school team needs, in addition to faculty/staff support, is recognition by the league. The Norcal League has a template for what is needed to organize the team to try to make this easier, and I am sure the Socal League does too.

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,237 Posts
To the OP I hope you got your team going. Your son's situation is / was similar to the kids in our community.

My son is the president of his HS club (freshmen) and a faculty member approached them to become a RACE team. They were like.... YEA!!

The faculty member (now their race team director) knew our school district would never allow such a "dangerous sport" as mountain biking......so he just did it anyway. Got a few of us parents involved, ordered race kits, started practicing and off we went.

Just got home a few min ago from the season opener for the So Cal HS Cycling League in Lake Perris. There were 80 high schools represented with 400+ kids racing! It was a great event!

This was the first event our high school (San Clemente) attended and we had three of our racers (out of 4) finish in the top 10! (D2 freshman).

Frustrating that our HS / school district wont get behind such dedicated athletes.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,386 Posts
did you make any progress? I think one of the first mistakes people make is to approach the athletic director or a non-cyclist administrator. At least here, you only need a teacher or other faculty member to sign on as club adviser. There is no need to aim for club sport (e.g. varsity letters) or athletics (on par with football).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
821 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
did you make any progress? I think one of the first mistakes people make is to approach the athletic director or a non-cyclist administrator. At least here, you only need a teacher or other faculty member to sign on as club adviser. There is no need to aim for club sport (e.g. varsity letters) or athletics (on par with football).
Hi, I am the OP. My son has graduated and moved on to college- a college with an mtb team (YAY!). Unfortunately a poorly-timed case of Mono sidelined him from racing in his senior year (of high school) but he has fully recovered and is back on the bike. I am not a NICA team mom anymore, however I do stay in touch with some of his high school team's coaches and other parents. They are still a Composite team and still growing. As far as I know they have not yet found a faculty sponsor at any of the three local high schools.

So, anyway- I am out but feel free to continue comments on this topic. I hope it helps someone!
 

·
J-Flo
Joined
·
1,740 Posts
The last sports that succeeded in breaking through to achieve official recognition at most high schools were lacrosse and soccer. In each case it took a groundswell of parental demand and large numbers of youth participants.

Unfortunately most public schools don't seem to have much room between (a) "club sport" with no school support whatsoever; and (b) official team sport with full school support, facilities, faculty coaches, etc. This is true even at many schools with large teams. The school where I am a coach has one of the oldest and largest teams (more than 50 riders), the new gym is named after one of our team families, and we still can't get any support from the school (they took away our small storage room when they built the new gym, and they won't even let us use the stationary bikes in the gym).

There are exceptions -- in Norcal we can point to Salinas and Drake, for example. The only way to work this is with parental and faculty involvement.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,237 Posts
The last sports that succeeded in breaking through to achieve official recognition at most high schools were lacrosse and soccer. In each case it took a groundswell of parental demand and large numbers of youth participants.

Unfortunately most public schools don't seem to have much room between (a) "club sport" with no school support whatsoever; and (b) official team sport with full school support, facilities, faculty coaches, etc. This is true even at many schools with large teams. The school where I am a coach has one of the oldest and largest teams (more than 50 riders), the new gym is named after one of our team families, and we still can't get any support from the school (they took away our small storage room when they built the new gym, and they won't even let us use the stationary bikes in the gym).

There are exceptions -- in Norcal we can point to Salinas and Drake, for example. The only way to work this is with parental and faculty involvement.
Schools should be focused on physical activity and the fact that kids want to represent their HS. The “sport” should be irrelevant.
 

·
XC Hack
Joined
·
343 Posts
Our team at Foothill High in North Tustin, CA has been around about 6 years. I'm into my second year helping coach. I've been told that when the mtb team was proposed, the school said it couldn't be a "team" (not a traditional sport, liability, whatever...) Fine, we'll call it a "club" (that happens to have kids who race, lol!) Anyway, it's been steadily moving along without any faculty support, just parents and kids. Until last year, when we got on the principal's radar. Our team mom (now Team Director) created an awesome shadow box with a jersey, a trophy, and a team photo and gave it to the principal. He was stoked and let the whole school know we existed. We had 6 seniors graduate and were looking at only 7 kids returning. After the school's "club rush" event, and great follow up by our TD, we had 44 names on the list as "interested" and from those we already have 24 race-ready kids on the roster. We've got a bunch of excited parents too who are getting involved. And we now have a faculty member who is the club's campus rep--she and her husband both ride. It's going to be a crazy 2018! Stay strong and faithful with your program, NICA is growing.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top