Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House By: Libby Hurley

"Connect Zone" in action for Western Suburbs

March 15, 2012 – Bloomington – The Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House took place Sunday, March 11, 2012 at Quality Bicycle Products in Bloomington, MN.

Over 100 interested parents and student athletes attended the Kick-Off to learn how they could bring mountain bike racing to their schools. The event offered informative presentations about starting and coaching teams, a silent auction and MN League t-shirts and jackets were sold to help raise money for the MN League.

Attendees participated in the MN League “Connect Zone” where people from various communities were able to meet each other to start teams. 22 suburban highs schools were represented, as well as a dozen folks from inner city schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Outstate MN was represented as well, with attendees from Duluth, St. Cloud, Rochester, Northfield, and Brainerd.

Dorian Grilley, Executive Director for the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, was in attendance at the MN Kick-Off. One program of the Bicycle Alliance is to provide bicycle education opportunities at the school level. “The more ways we can encourage kids to be physically active, the better,” said Grilley. “Understanding the health benefits of cycling will be an added bonus for this program.”

MN League Founding Retailers Erik’s Bike and Board Shop and Penn Cycle, also in attendance, set up displays of mountain bikes and answered product and technical questions. Both businesses are eager to help new high school teams get ready to train, race and have fun. “We’re here to help coaches and team members better understand their equipment options for racing and training,” said Pat Sorenson, President of Penn Cycle. “The MN League is a wonderful new program for young adults and seeing the initial support for this MN League at the Kick-Off was exciting and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”

Gary Sjoquist leading Coach Informational Session

“We’re really happy to see this level of support,” said MN League Founding Chair Gary Sjoquist. “We’re just starting our effort to build teams and establish the league here in Minnesota.” Sjoquist provided two presentations at the Kick-Off, one on how the new league will evolve, and the other a presentation that high school students can show to their local high school administrators.

The MN League Kick-Off Open House was the first of several events that will be held throughout the state over the next few months to help build awareness and support for the new league. Check back to the website, minnesotamtb.org, as new dates and locations are posted.

Minnesota is the latest state to offer mountain bike racing for high school students, following NorCal and Socal in CA, leagues in CO, WA, TX, and UT are also up and running. In CA alone, 50 high schools offer high school mountain bike racing. Currently, about 1800 high school student athletes around the U.S. are racing in leagues sanctioned by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA).

The MN League will offer camps throughout the summer and a 4-race schedule in September and October. Details about the MN League and presentations given at the Kick-Off Open House are available on the MN League’s website minnesotamtb.org.

Sales were clipping along for t-shirts and jackets - thank you!

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