With Coach Jensen editing, Coach Matt authored the below response to topics in the spring feedback form and brief coaches survey.
Response to BHS MTB Comments
Below are responses to the topics raised on the comment form linked to in this e-newsletter, https://mailchi.mp/5b575b48489e/yah-baby-welcome-to-the-2020-bhs-mtb-team-and-season?e=1f85088cee.
1. How will the groups be split?
Groups will be determined by ongoing management of skill and social compatibility or friends. Two of the top five reasons kids do sports are for fun with their friends and for appropriate challenge that facilitates growth in skills. That means, and the coaches agree, that a better job needs to be done of managing kids who, one, want and merit growth in ability and, two, kids who want to be with their friends.
For 2020, we will start the season by grade in order to establish initial organization. From there, requests and direction will be issued collaboratively between riders and coaches.
The time trial at the beginning of the season is a way to initially sort the groups. Over the course of the season, management from the coaches will facilitate requests from or direction to kids to change groups. Over the course of the season, management of the riding groups including the possible movement of riders between groups for whatever reason, will be overseen and facilitated by the coaches.
There will be exceptions to the days-of-week/grade-level sorting. If a skilled freshman needs to ride with more varsity riders, that freshman will be invited to change practice days.
By going to a four day a week plan, in theory, groups should be smaller and easier to manage. Also, we disperse our use of local trails in combination with Fairview (Fairview is a great partner in all of this). Any coach will tell you, if the ratio of coaches to riders gets more coaches, everything gets better.
2. Older riders mentoring younger ones.
One of the captains suggested already that some experienced riders should have an opportunity to occasionally help lead groups on Mondays and Wednesdays.
This is a way for older riders to mentor younger ones. The benefits are both broad and deep. Look for this to happen this year.
3. Could there be short fun Friday practices or weekend rides?
Yes…but, a problem across BHS MTB is our size, around 150 kids, combined with our volunteer structure. Volunteer coaches are already maxed out making time in their schedules to attend two days a week. Expecting more from volunteers exacerbates the problem. And if you ask a volunteer to do too much, they go away.
Showing up at any trail system with dozens of kids on the weekend makes planning and logistics hard and crowds trails.
Equity figures as an obstacle as well. What about the kids who cannot ride on weekends?
In the past, there were weekend rides but that was before BHS MTB got so big.
On the other hand, there are things like the Bike Wash and Trail Building Days. Thanks to great work by parents last year, there were grade level dinners just for the kids.
4. Coaches should stay with the group by sweeping, never dropping the last rider.
Agreed. Thanks for the comment. Thanks also to Coach Cheri and others who brought up crucial criticisms like this, took them head-on, and made them explicit topics for improvement.
This policy is going to be one of the very few strictly issued regulations from the Team Director and head coaches.
5. Coaches should listen to their riders better…and inquire with them more.
Good comment, thank you. There’s a lot to this one.
Telling a volunteer what they oughtta do is different from helping a volunteer do what they offered to do. Coaches are there in the first place because they care and not every coach can be everything to every rider. Take Grumpy Coach Matt for instance, he’s not too talkative in the first place.
The associated comment went on to talk about the mental health benefits of riding with friends and coaches. Probably every coach has made a deliberate decision to sacrifice of their time and resources to contribute to their community by aiding in healthy activity for high schoolers.
Could it be better? Yes. How? Hard to say. One great idea is Vail Ski And Snowboard Academy which is the first public ski academy. It has an altered academic schedule that allows kids to ride and ski during daylight, off-peak hours. Imagine making healthy activity a built-in part of your school day.
6. If Coach Matt missed anything, tell him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Responses to The Brief Inquiry to Coaches
Separate from the feedback form was a brief communication to the coaches asking them what’s on their mind. Below is a response.
- From fear and furlough to gratitude for being able to ride and being stuck with family; the coaches unanimously look forward to the season and riding with the kids. The sum total of their payroll from infinitely patient Kay to speedy fast Scotty is $0.00, priceless.
- Coaches often state their desire to upgrade their NICA certification level. The pandemic is a new and powerful barrier to in-person training. Thanks to the Colorado League, a lot of things are being moved to online formats. Things like Wilderness First Aid will eventually require in-person work. No easy answers here at the moment.
- The Colorado League’s efforts to make NICA’s On The Bike Skills class more accessible are supported by BHS MTB team management. With the magnitude of coaches and resources between Fort Collins and Golden alone, it would be great if local coaches could be certified to teach other coaches the On The Bike Skills class or equivalents.
- Dividing the team’s workload through better volunteer management came up. Currently, a committee has been set up to identify (done), describe (done), and better fill volunteer roles across the board. Two principles are working here. One, asking more people to help. Two, getting organized so that helping is more appealing and natural to parents and others.
- Coaches need support with difficult ride groups or individual riders who manifest difficult behavior. Roughly the same topic is heard from both riders and coaches. Anyone who’s been around similar situations knows how hard this is. Part of an answer may lie in the move to shared management and switching to four day a week practice. By relieving a single head coach, such as Ben in the past, from the overwhelming need to do more than possible and by splitting practice days, hopefully, groups will be smaller and support resources will be proportionately larger. The other side of this coin is that BHS MTB has become an organization abnormally large and complex to be run by volunteers who, like everyone, have their own problems.
- BHS MTB can contribute to normalcy during the pandemic. Yes. Thanks to Coach Jensen, even though everything is uncertain these days, we’re going forward in order to provide as much order as we can.
- Basic riding skills or curriculum. Coach Brian is on it! Good suggestion. This one is in the works.
- “I hope the season happens.” That sums it up.