CHILLICOTHE – When it comes to sports, there never seems to be too much of it.
There seems to be a sport for all interests, most recently for Unioto bike enthusiasts.
Led by Head Coach Joe Lawhorn and Team Director Heather Lawhorn, Unioto showcased their new mountain bike club.
Open to children in grades 6 to 12, the Club is meant to help introduce the importance of cycling and create lasting bonds through sport.
The Lawhorns have been riding bikes for years and have seen it all.
However, training children has been a mountain that they don’t have a lot of experience to climb.
“It has been a very difficult thing,” said Joe Lawhorn. “For my part, the basics are so anchored in me that it has become a muscle memory. So basically I had to relearn myself and break it down step by step so that I could pass it on to these kids. . “
Even still, they are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to show children how much fun it can be.
“Whenever I was in school I wasn’t really the type to play with the ball and the sticks,” said Heather Lawhorn. “I wish I was lucky enough to have cycling introduced into my life earlier. Now that I have the chance to show it to children, I want to be a good role model and show them that mountain biking skills can translate into everyone. their lives.”
One of the members who needs so much coaxing in the sport is their daughter Izzy Lawhorn, who will be entering seventh grade in the fall.
She has been an important recruiter for the team and looks forward to bridging the gap between kids and cycling.
“I noticed that video games have become more popular than outdoor activities,” Lawhorn said. “There are different outdoor activities that kids can do on a daily basis and I think that should be one of them. “
It seems recruiting has also worked, as Unioto’s squad numbers match those of the Ross County squad.
In 2019, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) started a league in Ohio. The team was formed to welcome interested children throughout Ross County.
The Lawhorns were also instrumental in the management of the Ross County team.
Most recently they had 11 members on this squad and have already matched that in the first month of training.
“It’s wonderful to see the kids be so interested,” said Joe Lawhorn. “In Europe, cycling has been rooted in them since their youth, whereas here in America it is seen more as a hobby or just a leisure activity.”
The interests of the children are also real.
For example, ninth grade student James Schneider who quit playing football so he could spend more time mountain biking.
“I knew trying to ride a bike and play football at the same time would be complicated,” said Schneider. “I wanted to be in football, but I always faced people older than me. So I made the decision to quit because I already found a better and more fun thing in the bike.”
Another member was Terry Burggraf, a seventh grader, whose interest in mountain biking came from seeing it for the first time online.
“I saw a lot of mountain biking videos on YouTube and it looked like a lot of fun,” Burggraf said. “So when I heard this club was performing, I knew I wanted to join it.”
As palpable as the excitement around the club is, expectations are low given the inexperience of most members.
Instead, the team is focusing more on having fun and showing what ‘Bikes for Life’ really means.
“Like I said, I wish I had bikes in my life earlier,” said Heather Lawhorn. “It gave me confidence as a person and I really enjoyed seeing the kids have that spark. I want it to be something that they have for their life that they can always have fun with, instead. to place so many expectations on it. “
The Unioto Mountain Bike Club will be holding its first race on the weekend of August 28, which will be the first of four races of the season.
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