What is your name?
And what league do you participate in?
I am in the Utah High School Mountain bike league.
What role do you play in the UT League and how long have you been involved?
I’m a student-athlete, and I just finished my fourth season, my senior year, with the Riverton High School Mountain Bike Team.
How did you first get involved with the Riverton team?
I first saw a flyer in my middle school when I was in 8th grade. I contacted the head coach and decided it was something I wanted to be a part of. I had always been riding bikes, my family had always been riding, but we hadn’t been riding mountain bikes. I decided it sounded really fun, so I joined and have enjoyed it a lot.
How many riders were on Riverton when you joined?
When I first started, it was 10 or 15 riders, and I was the first girl on the team. For the first year I was the only girl on the team. Then this past year, we had about 32 riders, including a couple of Devo [middle school] riders. We had six high school girls riding this last year.
Bring us into this image–tell us the back story.
I went to the Utah Student Leadership Summit, where they do leadership training for student-athletes. One of the first things we did when we got there was to go for a ride together. We were out riding, and just decided to stop and take a selfie. The people in the picture are: one of my teammates and friends, and another friend from another team, and then some riders we had just met. It was really cool to just go on a fun ride with a bunch of peers who are leaders in their teams.
The Student Leadership Summit was amazing. It was great to learn what it takes to be a leader on my team, to learn first aid, and to learn about team management. My dad is the head coach on my team, and I know how hard it can be for him to get everything together and plan all the logistics.
I can definitely be hard! What kind of help did you provide to your coaches after the Summit?
I took charge a little bit more with activity-planning, like planning some skills clinics and getting the riders interacting with one another more. I also coordinate things with my high school. I talked to our teacher-sponsor, and get our trophies inside the trophy case. I also run the Instagram account. I also talk to the other riders about what they want to get out of the team. I basically supplement the things that our coaches are doing.
Do you have a title on your team? Are you the Team Captain?
Two years ago, we took a vote to elect a “President,” so I selected for that. But then this last year we didn’t vote, but I guess I was kind of a Captain. At the Leadership Summit, there were a few different areas you could focus in, like being a Mechanic, or Team Captain; so I chose to do the “Captain” and “Influencer” training.
How does that image and your experience at the Student Leadership Summit reflect a broader experience on your team and in the league?
It made me more excited, I mean I’m already really excited to be a part of the team, but it made me more excited because it gave me the tools to help make my teammates’ experiences better. That’s one of my goals in addition to training and racing well, but to make sure that other people on my team are having a good experience. It’s important that they have the skills to go out and race, and to go out and have fun when they are done racing. The Student Leadership Summit helped me do that with my team. It also gave me a better understanding of how the league works, how much work people put into it, and how much I enjoy being a part of it.
That’s a great segue–what’s your favorite part about being involved in both your team and the #morekidsonbikes movement?
Starting as the only girl on my team, it was amazing to go to the races and meet a bunch of other girls doing the same thing, and then getting more girls on my team in the proceeding years. #morekidsonbikes for me is also “more girls on bikes.” It’s such a healthy thing for girls to do together. I think of all my friends now that ride, I look around and think “We’re pretty cool–we’re out here riding bikes fast and paralleling some of the boys.” My favorite part is that environment, seeing more girls getting into the league, finding friendships, and improving as riders.
How do you think we, as an organization, can get more girls participating?
It’s really hard to reach through to a lot of people. If you have girls who are willing to go out there and talk to people about it, then that helps. I realized with my team that we don’t have a lot of female coaches and ride leaders–we had none really. So as NICA gets older and the leagues get older, I think girls will be coming back as ride leaders, and I think that will help. But it’s hard! I think girls are more intimidated by it, so that’s hard. [NOTE: Kira is now signed up to participate in the NICA monthly Girls’ and Women’s outreach phone calls, with reps from across the country.]
What could NICA and the leagues do to keep improving the experience for everyone?
Sometimes people get frustrated because NICA races can seem a little “dumbed down,” but I can see why. You want to make it so everyone can do it. I understand that, and try to have fun on whatever course I’m on. Being a varsity rider, sometimes it’s nice to have a little more challenge. Sometimes we’ll have varsity loops, and I like that. But those are all little things. I can see how it’s hard to accommodate everybody.
And then with the Student Leadership Summit, it would be great to have more of those here, and even in other leagues.
Which was more important to you: the team aspect or the racing aspect?
The team aspect. I think of the team aspect as not just the other riders on Riverton, but all the riders from the other teams as well. That’s why the team aspect is more important to me. Seeing all my friends and all the other riders racing, seeing everyone cheering for each other, that’s something that’s really important to me.
It’s nice to place well and everything, but at NICA races you can focus on the performance right before the race and when you’re racing. All the other times you’re thinking about your team, and everything else that’s going on.
What are your plans now that you’ve graduated from the league?
I’ll be racing other non-NICA races in the spring, and am planning to go to nationals, so I’ll be training for that. I think I’m going to try to go to the University of Utah, so I hope to race on the collegiate team there. It’s small, but there’s a team. I’ll definitely continue riding!
Follow Riverton’s HS MTB on Instagram: @RHSMTB!
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