If you’re a student in a North Carolina public school with aspirations of becoming a pro cyclist, you might not have much of an opportunity to develop your bike skills on a school sports team. That is, unless you attend the School for Creative Studies (SCS), a new public magnet school in Durham. The school began tryouts this week for a new competitive cycling club registered with USA Cycling, the cycling body responsible for training and sending American athletes to the Olympics and the Tour de France. It’s the first school in North Carolina to start a USA Cycling-registered team.
“Competitive cycling is exploding in the U.S.,” says SCS Assistant Principal and cycling coach Andrea Hundredmark. “Being involved with an officially-sponsored team will allow School for Creative Studies students to advance in national rankings, and perhaps even compete internationally.”
The school, which opened in July, currently has 260 students enrolled in the sixth, seventh and ninth grades. They plan to add grades each year and eventually be open to sixth through 12th graders. Because they are a magnet school, they don’t have a competitive athletics program.
“In order for our kids to kids to have athletic outlets, we have to create clubs,” Hundredmark explains. “We are intentionally picking out unique clubs that aren’t offered in other schools so our kids can have this kinds of experience.”
Other clubs and teams there include fencing, chess and ultimate Frisbee. The new cycling program is open to students of all ages, in both road biking and mountain biking. Hundredmark says the school will purchase bicycles with their school budget and borrow some from Trips for Kids Traingle, the local chapter of an international non-profit that works with at-risk youth through bike programs. Hundredmark started and runs Trips for Kids Triangle, and says that she was partly inspired by her work there to start a cycling program at SCS.
The cycling team will be a year-long endeavor, and Hundredmark says that about 10-20 percent of their students have expressed an interest in the club. Results of this week’s tryouts will be known by Friday.