Sunday, January 20, 2013

Washington Student League - Coach 'R' Me

Washington Student League coaching conference now complete.  Two full days of discussing how to get more kids on bikes, concluding with a group ride, blurry iPhoto pic above as proof.  That ride was today on a cold, but beautiful afternoon, here in the Seattle area.

What exactly is the Washington Student League?  Glad you asked.  A program that falls under the umbrella of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, that allows 7th - 12th grade kids to form school or regional teams.  These teams to ride together, train together, get involved with mountain bike advocacy, and participate in optional race series this spring.  Basic intent to get more kids on bikes and outside in general. Sound good?  Yeah, I thought so.

I dabbled with getting involved with this about two years ago, attending the initial coaching conference and volunteering at the first race. Program then under NICA ownership, this year folks running the Washington chapter elected to break off on their own, joining forces with Evergreen.  One of the reasons, to open the program to junior high school students, and change the philosophy a bit, to general mountain biking and less racing focus.  Sign me up.

The main reason I didn't jump in fully back then, was that my son, Racer Boy Ian, was too young to be involved.  Now with him in junior high school and the league open to 7th and 8th graders, my excuses are over.  So, yours truly - that be me - now scheduled to be head coach for a composite team of local junior high kids.  Intimidating and exciting.  Team in early forming stages, recruiting in progress.  Son Ian on board, along with the 7th grade son of the dude coaching the local high school team.  Plan is to have the junior and high school kids partner on some practices and share resources if needed.  I have a few other junior high kids interested, hoping to get between 5 and 10 students officially signed up.

This is a coed league, girls very encouraged to ride and race.  Getting more girls involved with biking is always a good thing.  A local woman mountain bike/cyclocross racer has signed on to be assistant coach for my junior team - our junior team - which is fantastic.  Her name is Marne, her husband also rides and offered to assist with the team.  He also builds custom frames in his garage.  Cool couple, eh?  Having a female rider/racer as coach role model is all around goodness and much needed in Bike Land.

Troy, dad to two school racers, will be coaching the high school kids for our area.  This team existed for two years under the NICA banner, first year for Troy to act as head coach.  As mentioned, we'll partner together between the teams a bit.  Besides a few previous emails, this weekend was the first time spent together.  Cool folks and I'm looking forward to working with them both.

Being on the team should also be a good life experience for my son Ian.  At 13 years old, is already the experienced racer, with many mountain bike and 'cross races under his belt.  Most of the kids who join this program are rank beginners, in riding off road or racing, allowing Ian to be a mentor and young leader with this exposure.

Lisa Miller runs the Washington Student League, who I know from Seattle bike circles.  She used to run the Indie Series, where Ian really got his start in bike racing.  Kari Studley also involved, who happens to a multi national cyclocross champion.  The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance used to the Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club (BBTC), that I was pretty involved with during the '90s.  So in a way, full circle for me.  Nice.

A shout out to Dirtfish Rally School, that allowed the league to use their conference room, facilities, and land - free of charge - for the coaching conference.  Gawking at rally cars in the lobby the added bonus for me.  Thanks! 

Long winded post, but more to follow in the future.  Should be a fun ride.


  1. All the luck to you. I am sure just as Scouts it should only take an hour of your time each week. Ha Ha!

    Please keep us posted on how this works out.

  2. @Bikewright. Yeah, I'm discovering how much time this will take - not exactly just getting some kids out for a ride. Should be fun though...