June 13th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 24
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CCHS Mountain Bike Club a hit
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald contributor photo
Pictured above are some of the participants in the CCHS Mountain Bike Club by the Sooper Trooper trail in York Creek, just south of Coleman. The club has been hugely successful at the school with some 30 students taking part. Divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced groups, students learn mountain biking skills and techniques that are challenging enough for their level.
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
Crowsnest Consolidated High School (CCHS) has a variety of extracurriculars that students can get involved in. There's the baseball, volleyball, track and field, and other sports clubs that allow students to participate in indoor and outdoor competition at all skill levels.

And now, there's a new club that gets students moving outside in a social setting, mountain biking.

The CCHS Mountain Bike Club debuted mid-May and had a notable 18 students show up on their first ride, which coursed along the Community Trail from Fireman's Park to the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre.

The club has received consistently high interest from student in the weeks following, garnering a following of approximately 28 students in grades 7 to 12 from CCHS and Matthew Halton High School. With the exception of a few professional development days, the club meets on Friday afternoons after school and rides on the Community Trail, the Pass Powderkeg trail system, the York Creek trails and the network around Bellevue.

Inspiring more youth to get involved in the Crowsnest Pass extracurricular landscape is what inspired CCHS physed instructor and athletic director Matt Hennig to start the club.

"Last year about this time, Crowsnest Pass hosted the Enduro Race and I was looking around and I saw all these kids, but almost none from this community," says Hennig. "I think it's important for our community moving forward to have people who want to live in Crowsnest Pass after they graduate. One way to do that is to get them involved in all the recreational opportunities we have here."
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The purpose of the club is to develop the students' riding technique and skill and, beyond that, to provide a social setting where kids can be active, outdoors and challenging themselves.

"There's a lot going on with curriculum redesign in Alberta so part of that is giving kids an opportunity to engage in nature-based learning opportunities. That's a big part, to engage with the local land and community, to create and sustain resiliency and self-esteem in kids," says Hennig. "As a physed instructor, I love to see kids feel good about being increase their fitness and activity levels, having fun outside, working hard, and getting kids away from their screens and their phones. There are kids who might not hang out together in the hallway but are hanging out together on the trails and are developing some good relationships , so it's good for our school culture too. It's been a really positive thing for our school."

The coaching team consists of seven certified ride guides and instructors, which means that they are able to teach students everything from the basics like neutral body position, braking and bike-body separation, to more advanced skills like cadence, gearing and rolling lunges.

Students are divided into advanced, intermediate and beginner groups. Each level has its own coaches that guide and teach the kids in that group, taking each one on trails appropriate for their level of experience.

"We have a ton of coaches, which is great because it allows us to make sure that we have good instruction and super of the kids when we're out. We're able to watch all the kids and really work with them and help them progress. I love that we can split into three groups because then, all the kids are getting what they need out of it and there's a place for everybody," says Hennig.

Some of the coaches recently participated in the BICP (Bike Instructor Certification Program) courses organized by the local mountain biking club Sweet Riders at the end of May. There are three Level 2 instructors and one Level 3 instructor.
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"Especially now that we all took those courses, we can teach from the very beginning steps to the most advanced skills and everyone's kind of getting what they want out of it," says Hennig. "No one's bored and no one's getting in over their head."

Hennig says the program has been so successful that CCHS is hoping to include mountain biking as part of a bigger outdoors class next year.

"There has been talk about incorporating it into a bigger program next year, like may be an outdoor pursuits class where we get to go mountain biking or snowshoeing or hiking or skiing or whatever as a class during school as an option," he says. "Again, it's with the current curriculum redesign where we're getting kids to engage in a different way, focus their learning in a more engaging, fun way for them."

The bigger picture down the line is to get mountain biking recognized by the Alberta Schools' Athletic Association (ASAA).

"In BC, mountain biking is a recognized high school sport, so they have regional, zone and provincial competitions just like they do for badminton or basketball or track and field. Down the line, that would be something that we're trying to do, is try to get a whole bunch of schools involved," says Hennig.

The club runs until June 15 and will restart in the fall.
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June 13th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 24
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