Coaches mentor and mold today’s youth to be their best. Through hard work, coaches help develop bonds and create a sense of community. From the sidelines, experiencing this camaraderie is inspiring and infectious. Peggy Mozak was inspired by her husband Ken and other coaches work in the NorCal league and made the plunge, opening up a whole new world for herself.
Q. How, when and why did your husband become a coach in NorCal?
A. [Peggy]: Ken is passionate. He attacks everything he is passionate about with the same high level of enthusiasm. He has been coaching and mentoring kids from as far back as his college days when he was a Big Brother in a Catholic mentoring program. When we were first married before having our own children he coached in the Biddy Basketball program in our town in New Jersey. When we moved to California and our own children were small, he volunteered at our church’s middle school youth group. He is passionate about mountain biking. We belong to a couples small group from church where we share our hopes and dreams for our futures. Our small group had been praying for an opportunity for Ken to incorporate mountain biking and mentoring kids. He was thinking that this would mean mountain biking program with the youth group kids. Then, he was invited to go on a NorCal fundraiser ride with Fast Freddy Rodriguez. On the ride he met Matt Fritzinger and found out about the high school league. A match made in heaven, mentoring and mountain biking.
Q. As a spouse, what were some of the observations and experiences you noted and would like to share, good and hard, during the years before you became a coach?
A. [Peggy]: Ken, true to form, was consumed by this new venture. I think his hope was his kids would follow suit. But that met with limited success. The first year of the team we had a Senior and a Freshman. Our Senior, Jackie, was around for the pre-season hype and recruited our first big batch of girls, went to two weeks of practice and then was off to join the track team. Adam, our freshman, with trepidation joined the team but unfortunately had health issues that held him back. He later came back to ride, but not race his Senior year. We also had a younger child in elementary school. All this to say, that for various reasons the kids were not all on board. So now we have Ken spending all this time at practice and races and three children not involved with all of their various activities. You can see where this is going. I was not able to join Ken on the mountain biking scene. I could see how the team was catching on like wildfire, but only felt the heat from the sidelines. But what was going on was infectious. When I was able to attend mountain biking events, I observed the close bond not only among the kids, but the community of the coaches and parents drawing you in—it is so appealing.
Q. What was your concept and understanding of NorCal and NICA during this time?
A. [Peggy]: Well I think that the league was only in Northern California at that time and NICA was not yet. It seemed like a small start with huge potential. It was a great opportunity for the various high schools to get together and compete to see how they matched up against one another.
Q. Why did you not get involved, or become a coach?
A. [Peggy]: I had been watching from the sidelines for 5 years by now. I love the out of doors and hike often on these same trails that the team is biking. I was inspired by watching Bonnie, go from a mom riding with her freshman daughter to a committed coach of the beginning girls. I spent a lot of time wishing I had started at the beginning. I was looking for an opportunity to make the plunge.
Q. What changed, or was the process, for you becoming more involved and becoming a coach? How long have you been coaching?
A. [Peggy]: First of all, now was the right season for me. Two kids off to college and my high school son was driving and very independent. Ken rearranged practices for various reasons and they ended up not being in conflict with Noah’s volleyball games. Secondly I’m starting to look ahead at empty nest life and wanted to join Ken in what is assuredly to be his retirement plan, coaching kids mountain biking. Lastly Ken is always telling me if I want to get more fit I need to kick my workout plan up a notch and starting a new, demanding sport seemed like the answer. I started coaching at the beginning of this season. Ken had been asking me to consider coming along to mentor the girls in some capacity even as a non rider.
Q. Since making that decision, and embarking on the mountain bike coach journey, what have been your own key conversations, the good and the hard, and what would you like to share?
A. [Peggy]: I am new to mountain biking. Some of the coaches are accomplished mountain bikers. So this is definitely learning by doing for me. Especially riding with the beginning girls, I feel like I can relate with them about starting from scratch. I ride at the back. I am there if they need me, went out too hard and need a breather, not feeling well today or something mechanical. I am working hard at just keeping up from the minute we leave the Monte Vista parking lot.
Q. What would you say to someone that is on the fence to becoming a coach?
A. [Peggy]: I hear Ken’s voice saying to kids who are considering the team, ”So you don’t have a bike…perfect! So you’ve never ridden a mountain bike…perfect! Just give me three weeks…its going to be hard but it is worth it! Lots of people who are considering coaching are already avid mountain bikers. And to them I would say…it’s all about the kids. They are such a joy. Each ride group has its on personality from the level one boys “the young stallions” to the sweet level three girls that I ride with. I love these girls!!!
Q. How has this experience changed you?
A. [Peggy]: Physically, my fitness level is better than. This sport can shed the pounds and get you in shape! I didn’t think it was possible for me to ride the dirt all the way to the summit of Mount Diablo, but last Sunday I did that and enjoyed it!! What a feeling of accomplishment. Being in community with this committed group of adult coaches is a huge bonus. It has opened up a whole new world to me.
Q. Since you have become a mountain biker, have there been experiences outside of coaching you would like to share?
A. [Peggy]: For the past ten years Ken and I have hiked the falls trail on Mount Diablo on our anniversary. We start and end in Clayton and at the end of the hike have lunch at the sports bar. This year on our 27th anniversary I was feeling empowered enough to suggest we Mountain Bike in the same area instead. Needless to say Ken loved the idea. After we made it all the way up a very intense climb on Mitchell Canyon to Deer Flats, Ken looked at me and said he was so thankful that he didn’t pick the ride because he would never have heard the end of it.