- January 25, 2023
We live in an area with many hills and mountainous terrain. It is ideal for those who enjoy the sport of mountain biking. One local organization helps to promote and develop that sport in this area. That organization is the Lycoming County Mountain Bike Team, which includes students from Lycoming and surrounding Counties and has
We live in an area with many hills and mountainous terrain. It is ideal for those who enjoy the sport of mountain biking. One local organization helps to promote and develop that sport in this area. That organization is the Lycoming County Mountain Bike Team, which includes students from Lycoming and surrounding Counties and has just completed its seventh season in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Cycling League (PICL). The league is part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA).
Coaches Jeremy Rusczyk and Joe Tavani started the Lycoming County team in the winter of 2016 when Mike Kuhn (PICL League Director) gathered a group of mountain bikers for a NICA Leaders Summit near Philly. The vision was to start a high school mountain bike league and make mountain biking a high school sport option for student-athletes across the state. That inaugural season saw 23 teams with around 300 students competing in five events.
The league has grown quite a bit since then, with 68 teams and 1312 student-athletes in 2022.
Area student-athletes in grades 6th through 12th are building their biking skills by making technical turns, climbing and descending hills, and going over obstacles, all to have fun and become proficient on their bikes. Each member has the opportunity to participate regardless of skill level; all that is needed is a bike and a helmet.
Practices start in July and incorporate several practices per week, plus fun rides on Saturdays. Students practice drills to work on body positioning, braking, turning, and all aspects of riding skillfully on mountain trails. Students also learn trail etiquette and give back to the community by doing many hours of trail work. The league has a trail stewardship program called Teen Trail Corps, and the Lycoming Composite team contributed 164.5 hours of trail work this past year. These hours of trail work were completed in the Loyalsock and Tiadaghton State Forests and Williamsport Water Authority. Statewide, the league’s Teen Trail Corps hours totaled over 6,300 hours of trail stewardship in 2021.
According to Coach Joe Tavani, while the students learn how to mountain bike, they develop as people as well. They learn resilience, following rules, understanding etiquette on the racecourse and trails, and important subconscious skills such as focus, coordination, and attention, all while having fun.
Chrissy Sanders, mother of team members Izzy and Maddie, told Webb Weekly, “I want to thank the Team for helping my girls feel capable and confident by teaching them new bike skills but, more importantly, mentoring them on how to work through hard things and find joy in what they have accomplished.”
Student-athlete Landon Earnest states, “What I like about the Team and NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) is that everyone is very welcoming and everyone participates.”
The Team has dedicated volunteer Coaches and parent support.
To grow the Team, STEP AmeriCorps is assisting the Team with Outreach and working with area school districts to get “more kids on bikes.”