SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. — Beyond the city lights, tucked away in the hills, trails and mountains of Sierra Vista is a group of mountain bikers comprised of around 60 student athletes and 15 volunteer coaches who have formed more than team, they’ve formed a family. The Buena Mountain Bike Club is spear headed by Sierra Vista City Sports Director and Buena Mountain Bike Team Director, John Healy and Head Coach, Jennifer Damato. The club is an all-inclusive youth development program focused on developing mountain biking skills in students in grades 6th – 12th as well as enduring virtues such as perseverance, grit, determination, and a never-give-up attitude.
The Buena Mountain Bike Club is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Since their establishment in 2012, the team has won many individuate State Championships and two Team State Championships. While competition is a component of the organization, the club also includes adventure riders who want to explore the terrain and nature trails of our beautiful state. “Of course it is super exciting to watch your teem succeed,” Head Coach Jennifer Damato states, “but the most fulfilling aspect is when you get to watch the lives our athletes change as they gain confidence. This is much more than mountain biking. We are a team, a family. It can and has transformed entire families. It may start with one child joining, and as they become a part of our team culture, their family becomes part of the larger Buena Mountain Bike Club family. In fact, some of our athlete’s parents have picked up mountain biking and it has now become a family activity.”
Coach Damato is going into her seventh year with the organization and has been head coach for the past four. As in any volunteer organization the amount of work that goes in to making the program successful is extensive. When asked why she continues to be a part of the team, Coach Damato stated, “I stick with it because I love seeing what it does for our students and how it benefits the riders. I am a stay-at-home mom, so I have time to invest in the training, the students, and the program.”
The goal of the club is to get #morekidsonbikes. Trained coaches take the time to teach new riders skills necessary to be successful on the bike and ride the trails safely. There is no experience needed to join the team. The 2022 pre-season began June 16 and consisted of six practices. The coaches taught different mountain biking skills and techniques while the athletes participated in various team building activities and obstacles. Students were grouped to ride with other athletes who have similar bike riding capabilities.
Some of the most unique aspects of this club are the race events. Different than other sports, on racing weekends student athletes get to go camping with their teammates and families. The team has a mobile kitchen which feeds the entire team and their families as they gather around campfires and share stories and make memories.
The 2022 season begins July 2. The team practices three times a week with the first race in September in Flagstaff. There are racing events every other weekend thereafter. The season ends second week of November.
For more information about the club or if interested in sponsoring a student athlete, please contact Coach Damato at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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