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Bonneville-Roy Mountain Bike Team is calling all riders for junior and high school program

By Ryan Aston - | Feb 28, 2024

Photo supplied, Bonneville-Roy MTB

This undated photo shows members of the Bonneville-Roy Mountain Bike Team.

WEBER COUNTY -- It may not draw the headlines that, say, football or basketball do within Utah's prep sports zeitgeist, but high school mountain biking competition is on the rise in the Beehive State.

The Utah High School Cycling League was founded as an affiliate of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, or NICA, in 2011. The competition has since grown from 320 student-athletes in 2012 to more than 7,000 in 2023.

The Bonneville-Roy Mountain Bike Team is at the forefront of the movement, and head coach Mike Staten is looking for students who will be entering grades seven through 12 this fall to join the squad.

"I have people tell me all the time that it's the best high school sport organization they've ever done," Staten told the Standard-Examiner. "I've even had kids tell me that belonging to the team and identifying themselves as a mountain biker literally saved their life when it came to mental health issues. It's just a good, wholesome, awesome place to be."

Prospective racers living within the boundaries of Bonneville High, South Ogden Junior High, TH Bell Junior High, Utah Military Academy, Roy High, Roy Junior High and Sand Ridge Junior High can register for this team. Early registration has already begun, with a hard deadline of May 31.

Registration information can be found online at bonnevillemtb.org/register.

Staten stressed that economic considerations should not deter families from getting involved with the growing sport, noting that the team has sponsors.

"Some of our sponsor money goes toward kids' fees. We have bikes that our team has bought using donations, or some of them have been donated, that we can lend for a whole season to kids who don't have something that they can ride," Staten said.

The league also has a scholarship program and loaner bikes.

"Last year, we had five kids on our team riding donated bikes and we had 10 kids on our team whose fees were covered, in part or in whole, by the scholarships from the league and our team's sponsors."

Part of registration may also include the Trek NICA Pathfinders Scholarship, an effort to foster diversity in cycling by providing student-athletes of color with a bike, equipment and a stipend covering league membership fees and entry fees for a full season of racing.

Applications for that scholarship are currently being accepted with a final submission deadline of March 15. Information is available on the NICA website (nationalmtb.org).

Last season, two of Bonneville's riders received Pathfinders scholarships.

Getting kids of varying backgrounds, circumstances and genders onto bikes is a labor of love for Staten, who has seen a Weber-Davis Composite Team of just four athletes evolve and split off into a number of distinct, school-affiliated programs.

For the 2024 competition -- which begins in August and will include three races for all levels, a fourth race for high schoolers and then a qualified championship event to be held in early October -- Staten expects his Bonneville team to roster more than 100 athletes, including those at the junior development level (grades seven and eight).

He anticipates another 20-25 students will launch the Roy program. They'll train with Bonneville and share its coaching infrastructure, equipment and race-day pit zone during the forthcoming campaign.

Teams also exist at Fremont High, Weber High, Ogden High and throughout the state. The sport is open to anyone within the age group, including those with special needs.

"If you can still pedal, there's a way for you to participate," Staten said.

Additional information can be found at the Utah High School Cycling League website, https://www.utahmtb.org, by texting 801-589-2686 or via email to BonnevilleMTB@gmail.com or RoyHSMTB@gmail.com.

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