Avid bike rider Patty Woodworth is using her experience riding bikes to get kids involved in a new club on Clearview Regional’s campus.
By KRYSTAL NURSE
Patty Woodworth and her brother Jim have been biking since they were little children, and now Patty is using her love for riding bikes to get kids from the Clearview Regional School District who are seeking to join a sport but may or may not lack hand-eye coordination outside mountain biking.
Patty, who also played field hockey when she was in high school, loved doing BMX races and pushed her kids to have an interest in the sport due the longevity it has.
“The guy I rode with earlier in the month is 71 and is fitter than most 40 year olds,” said Woodworth. “It’s because his life involves just spinning the pedals, and my kids see this as ‘yes, you can do this to get to places in addition to something you can do for fitness.’”
She said her 14-year-old son, Henry, races on the Gloucester County team of the New Jersey chapter in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, and seeing his success in the program has made her think of starting a club for the entire Clearview Regional School District.
“It’s all about getting more kids on bikes than losing a generation to video games because some of the kids are never going to attach themselves to baseball, football or field hockey,” said Patty. “This is another route for them to take that gives them something to do that is a lifetime sport.”
According to NICA’s website, high school leagues are present throughout states like Arizona, California and Utah that are widely known to have the proper weather for cycling and have a large outdoor lifestyle following.
Despite the weather conflicts, Woodworth still saw it as an opportunity to start a club for Clearview. She asked the physical education teacher, Scott Land, about helping her create the team and presented the idea to the high school’s athletic director, Mike Vicente.
“We went in and met with the athletic director of Clearview, and he said that he doesn’t see why we shouldn’t do this,” said Woodworth. “But it has to start as a club. We can’t just bring in a new sport and say ‘Clearview now has a mountain biking team.’ It has to have origins in being a club.”
Land, Woodworth and the high school’s music teacher, Thomas Maioriello, agreed to be the club’s sponsors, and in the club, she said, they will teach the kids about safety, how to make it through tough trails and more.
“They’ll be taught how to handle their bikes, how to hop over things like logs, but the courses have ways where you can ride around them or pick your bike up and carry it,” said Woodworth.
The coaches, Woodworth added, will all be required to undergo concussion and risk management, other than the standard background check, to be Level One certified by NICA. The other two levels, Two and Three, require more training, if a coach wishes to do so, but Level One is the minimum requirement.
Because no kid will be turned away, Woodworth said coaches will be stationed throughout the trails to teach kids who are struggling how to use their bikes’ gears to their advantage and to not get winded. There’s no limitation on what bike a kid can bring to practice as long as it is safe to ride on.
“They don’t need to be on a $400 bike to get started,” said Woodworth. “They can start on something that they have in the garage. If they have a $179 bike from Target, they can use it.”
Practices and races are open for anyone in the club to participate in any combination they see fit.
“You, as a participant, can just sign up and show up for practices and never race,” said Woodworth. “Or you can never come to practices, especially if you have another sport, and show up for the races. You can do any sort of combination.”
Practices are designed to be in the evening and require a minimum of only three riders. If two respond or coaches do not receive a response, they’ll cancel and aim for the next available day.
College scholarship opportunities are available for kids, from select colleges, who wish to ride competitively, but Woodworth said her main goal is to see the club turn into a sport in the school district and have other schools seek to create one as well.
“We’re hoping that what’s going to happen is people will see this and be like “oh, no, Clearview won’t be the only ones. We’re not gonna let Clearview to be the only school that offers a mountain biking team,’” said Woodworth.
She hopes to get all of the logistics of creating the club and a course at Clearview done shortly to run practices by the holiday season. Visit www.NewJeresyMTB.org or Woodworth at Action Wheels Bike Shop in Woodbury for more information about Clearview’s mountain biking club.