Mountain bike club becomes official at White County Schools

A mountain bike club is now officially sanctioned within the White County School System, after the school board voted at its Thursday, April 25 meeting.

The club is for sixth -to- 12th-graders, and is sponsored by Katie DeFoor, an art teacher at Jack P. Nix Elementary School.

“The Warrior Mountain Bike Team is affiliated with the Georgia Interscholastic Cycling League and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA),” said DeFoor. “Our local team has been in existence for four years, and was started in 2015 as a ‘composite’ team, made up of White County students, home-school students, and out-of-county students that needed a team to ride with.”

The head of the composite team and school team is James Himstedt, DeFoor said. Several parent coaches support his work, and all coaches do training and assessment with the Georgia Interscholastic Cycling League

The mountain bike team has grown over the years, and the past season had 27 riders.

“The group has exploded in size over the past few years, to the point where we recently restructured our team,” she said. “We now exist as a separate composite team (home schooled and out of county riders), and a White County School team of high school and middle school riders.”

The reason DeFoor wanted to start the school club was so that the team can reach more students at the middle school and high school.

“We are also very excited about the growth of our composite team and hope to reach more kids who are home, schooled or live in a surrounding county that does not yet offer a team,” DeFoor said.

The team is part of the Georgia League, which DeFoor said is inclusive to all types of riders, no matter their ability or experience. With the mountain bike club, the goal is provide kids with an opportunity to participate in and learn about healthy and active lifestyles.

“We are also excited to be alongside of the GRiT program and Elevate program within the Georgia League,” DeFoor said. “GRiT – Girls Riding Together – inspires young women to build confidence and empowerment through mountain biking. Elevate is a new program this year which strives to make mountain biking more accessible to students with special needs by equipping their coaches and families with the accommodations needed to support the rider.”

Practices for the upcoming season begin in July, and will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sundays from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Yonah Preserve Trail.

“As a team, we have a great relationship with the new Yonah Preserve Trails (YPT) group and are grateful for the opportunity we have to use the trail system for practice,” DeFoor said. “We also are thankful for the community support of volunteers who give their time and dedication to our riders.”

The team participates in a five-event series that goes from September to November, DeFoor said. The race schedule is: Sept. 7-8 at Road Atlanta in Braselton; Sept. 21-22 at Allatoona Creek in Acworth; Oct. 5-6 at Bartram Trail in Milledgeville; Oct. 19-20 at Heritage Park in Watkinsville; and Nov. 2-3 at Dauset Trails in Jackson.

“While all team members are encouraged to ride and attend practices, the actual race days are optional,” DeFoor said. “If a student chooses not to race, we offer a program for ‘Adventure Riders’ who choose to be a part of the team and just ride for fun.”

Though practices don’t start until July for the new season, DeFoor said interested people are encouraged to start riding their bikes. An information meeting will be held on Sunday, May 5, at 2:30 p.m. at Yonah Preserve Trails, 1054 Albert Reid Road in Cleveland. Another meeting may be offered at a later date.

DeFoor can be reached at katie.defoor@white.k12.ga.us. The Warrior Mountain Bike Team can also be found on Facebook, where they will post team updates and times.

White County News

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