Coach and Student Development Director
Q. How long have you been associated with the league and in what capacity?
A. I have been coaching with the WSCL for 6 years. I started as an Assistant Coach in 2014 and have been a Head Coach of both the MS and HS teams in Anacortes since 2016.
Q. How did you discover Mountain Biking?
A. The best movie ever (RAD) had a scene where they did a qualifier race in the local woods. After watching it, I rode up to some trails behind my grandparents house and tried “trail riding” on my bmx bike. I was 7. Then in the early 90s when my sister graduated from a 10 speed to a “mountain bike”, I took it and went back to the trails. I was mostly focused on bmx through high school, but I did a few mountain bike rides. They were so much fun, but usually ended in a broken bike or body so I was wary of getting too involved. A few years later I was spending too much time in meetings and on a computer and my wife Rachel told me I had to do something to get some exercise. She bought me a mountain bike. It was actually when I took an instructor course and figured out you could learn to ride without a “huck and hope” approach that I really bought in.
Q. Describe your ideal trail.
A. My ideal trail is deep in the pnw trees and surfs the natural contours of the land with lots of roots, flat corners, horizons, rock slabs, and natural rollers. It goes up, down, and sideways, but never straight, and elicits hoots of joy.
Q. What do you enjoy about coaching coaches?
A. I love helping people learn and accomplish things they hadn’t before. I enjoy getting to see the unique things each coach brings to the table and learning from our coaches. Ultimately, I love seeing coaches with our youth riders and seeing the smiles on the faces of the riders as the coaches invest in them. And learning to ride bikes is RAD!
Q. How does coaching the sport of mountain biking differ from coaching other sports? What are the similarities?
A. Good coaching with youth in any sport is built on the same foundation. We help them find connection, develop their confidence, grow in their character and learn the competence skills of the sport. It’s a combination of education, mentoring, and risk management. But in many sports you can stand on the sidelines and watch while you put your team through a tough practice. On a mountain bike ride, you have to go WITH your team. You pedal up the hill, you go over the same obstacle, you face the same fears, you run out of breath. You experience it with your riders. That means you can’t hide behind a stopwatch or past greatness. It means that what we model speaks louder than our words. I think there is tremendous opportunity in that.
Q. What challenges do different league teams face?
A. Some teams struggle with having snow free trails early enough, and others have to run midweek practices in an urban park. The most common issue that I hear about is dealing with riders of vastly different skill levels, fitness, and interests. I also think that trail access is going to be a significant issue in the next couple seasons. There are relatively few locations to hold a ride and many of them are becoming overwhelmed by our teams as they grow. We’ve got to work together and partner with local trail associations to preserve, maintain, and grow our trail access.
Q. What are some new opportunities that you can imagine for the WSCL?
A. I can imagine lots of opportunities, but time will tell what they end up looking like. I think there is an opportunity to think outside the box about how to develop mountain bikers without having easy access to trails. This would open up more options to urban youth. Many of our teams have one or two kids who fit a demographic that make it hard to find peers especially for our more advanced girls and boys who choose to focus on competitive xc racing. I think we have strength in numbers across the state and there is an opportunity to help kids make connections beyond their local team.
Q. Do you have kids in the league?
A. Not yet. I have two wonderful kids who are in 2nd and 5th grade. They both enjoy riding, but we have another year before my oldest is eligible to participate in the WSCL.