This kids’ mountain biking group is gearing up for another successful season.
Jessica Harmening works with kids all day as a special education teacher at Mountaineer Middle School. She enjoys their company so much that she spends many afternoons and most weekends with them, too, as a head coach for the Morgantown Trail Hawks.
The Trail Hawks is a youth mountain biking team established locally in 2015 as part of the West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League, which in turn is part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. Harmening’s team includes about 50 kids from 6th through 12th grade—and there’s plenty of room for more.
Pre-season prep starts in May and June, with intensive practice starting in July. The group rides together twice each week in parks around the area, from Coopers Rock State Park to White Park adjacent to downtown Morgantown. Weekends might take the group farther afield for challenging rides in the surrounding area.
There is also a stewardship component to team membership, she says. “We get to ride on some amazing trails, and it’s so important that our kids don’t think they just exist like that. Trails take a lot of work. Getting the kids out there to do trail work teaches them that and also supports our mission of giving back to the community that is supporting us.”
Once the season kicks off, the race schedule begins in August and includes five events and happen all over the state. Any kid who wants to learn how to mountain bike is welcome to join the group, Harmening says, and they don’t even have to race. “But most kids who say they don’t want to race at first end up racing,” she says with a knowing grin.
It’s a state-of-the-art program, she says, with access to the best training resources available. “We are right in the middle of our recruiting season, and I’ll personally sign kids up until mid-August. And we have resources available so that costs shouldn’t be a barrier for anyone—we even have loaner bikes available for kids that need them,” she says. “And we’re all-inclusive. All kinds are welcome here, and we’ll accept everyone with open arms.”
If you think your kid might love to join the Trail Hawks, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.