Name: Blair Cooper
City: Fall City
Team: Lake Washington Composite Middle/High School
# of years with League: 4
How did you start volunteering?
When my two sons started riding in the Washington Student Cycling League, I saw volunteering to ride with the team as an excuse to ride my bike. I had just started mountain biking a few months earlier and volunteering with the League provided an opportunity to ride and share an activity with my kids. It was also the first year for the Lake Washington Composite Middle School team so there was plenty of help needed to get the team going. The following year, before the first race, there was the usual call for volunteers. As the race grew near people had signed up for just about everything except marking the course. I thought it would be interesting, and hey another excuse to ride. Since then it’s kind of been my thing. You have to get to the races early but I always get a great parking spot.
What do you like best about it?
My favorite part about volunteering is seeing the students improve and the experience they have with the team. There student riders that participate in other sports, but for many this is their first competitive experience. It’s great to see those students learn new skills and gain confidence in their riding. The races provide them with an opportunity to test themselves physically and mentally in ways they may have never done before.
What’s been an inspiring moment for you?
At last year’s Spokane race, one of our middle school riders had a crash pretty early in the race. She got herself back to our tent and after making sure everything was OK she wanted to go back out and finish the course. One of our coaches rode with her and she finished the race. As she approached the finish line the team was there to cheer her on.
Why do you think this program is important for students?
Biking is mostly a solo sport but the League puts as much if not more emphasis on the team. This is a great lesson for the life ahead for the students, too. We all have our individual contributions to make but we can’t do it all alone. The League also provides the opportunity for students to discover new things about themselves. Some may never have known they could ride 5, 10 or 15 miles without stopping, or ridden over a log that big, or rolled a drop that tall. The League provides experiences for the students that can teach them things that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
How has volunteering impacted you?
Volunteering helps to remind me that it’s not all about the individual. Volunteering is about helping others but it can also be about yourself (I still get an excuse to ride). Through volunteering I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet new people who share a common interest and to hopefully help develop the future person that the student riders will become.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a volunteer?
Give it a go. The League has so many opportunities to volunteer. Some require just a little time while others could almost be a full time job. Start with something small and see how it goes. You may just find that the more you volunteer the more you’ll want to do.
What’s one word that describes your experience with the League?
Satisfaction. Knowing that you’ve helped, whether it’s been directly working with a student or doing something that most folks won’t even think about. There’s a lot of work that goes into planning, practices and races and I find great satisfaction in knowing that I helped make it possible.