San Antonio teens looking for a team sport without a ball found their stride at a mountain bike club. The high schoolers say the sport has led to regular exercise, state-wide adventures, and lifelong friends.
Taking a listen in McAllister Park you may think there's a beehive nearby. The buzzing is actually coming from the hum of mountain bikes.
The San Antonio High School Mountain Bike Team meets at the park every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evening in the Spring.
"It's a lot of fun and you get to hang out with a lot of people," said Leighton Edwards who is a freshman at Churchill High School.
The group is training for their off-road race this weekend. The club is part of the Texas Interscholastic Mountain Bike League. After taking on teams from our state, top riders will move up to national races.
"The best part is being with friends and getting to travel through the state of Texas and get to know other people from other cities and the state," said Wesley Haase.
He attends Lopez Middle School. Wesley discovered his passion for the sport a few years ago. He was looking to trade in his video games for an outdoor activity.
The eighth-grader quickly learned fitness and mental agility are both keys to a successful ride.
"We exercise three times a week at a minimum,” said head coach Ron Robbiano. His daughter and her friends started the club four years ago. “Watching these kids come in, the ones who just learned how to ride a bike all the way through to competing and then being competitive, physically we get to watch them get healthy"
The sport encourages personal goals while cultivating teamwork. Plus, it's not just about being athletic.
“I think a lot of it is mind over matter,” said Emily Haase. She is Wesley’s older sister who attends Reagan High School “I feel like a lot of times the trying times are just like you telling yourself you can't do it when, in actuality, you can."
Out of 18 riders, Emily and her friend Chanie Rose Villarreal are the only two girls on the team right now. They encourage more young women to hop on a bike.
"It's not as scary as it looks,” said Chanie, a Luther High School of San Antonio student. “You definitely get used to it, you definitely get more confident."
The coaches teach trail safety and proper technique if a rider is faced with a fall. The club is also required to carry an insurance policy. As for helmets, those are mandatory.
The club is a melting pot of ages, school districts, and demographics. What bands them together is a shared passion for the great outdoors and a push to pedal to the finish first.
The mountain bike club is part of The National Interscholastic Cycling Association. Dues are about $300 per season for registration, race fees, uniforms, and helmets. Local bike shops offer scholarships and bike rentals for the team.