Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Cyclists and skiiers find unique value in club sport identity

Photo Credit: Zach Rosenberg

While cross country skiing is just getting on its feet after becoming a club sport two years ago, the established Whitman cycling team continues to develop its successful program. Despite the challenges of maintaining student-run programs, both teams have found unique value in being club sports at Whitman.

After Whitman skiing went from being varsity to club two years ago, members of the cross country ski team have experienced firsthand the differences between club and varsity athletics.

“[Getting cut from varsity athletics] was really really hard for us. But I believe that the team has moved past it, and is now excited and busy with making what we can out of this new opportunity and situation,” said senior and lifelong skier Paige Devlin, who was a sophomore when the program was cut and has since stepped up as one of the principal organizers and leaders.

The team, which now has about fifteen members, continues to practice and compete together during the off-season and in the winter.

“There’s a lot less expertise in the general race aspects of the sport, which is one drawback,” said sophomore Elliot Broze, one of the men on the team.

With no coach, the skiers now structure and design their own workouts, which can be rewarding, but has required some adjustment on the part of the athletes.

“It’s hard if you don’t have a coach there with you to keep the intensity up,” observed Devlin.

However, Devlin already sees being a club team as a good thing in the long term.

“The club team definitely offers things that a varsity team doesn’t. We are able to organize things how we choose and run the team the way we want to,” she said.

The team’s spring and fall off-season workouts are varied and intense. “We do a lot of running, roller-skiing, weight training,” said Broze.

Winter practices are an hour away from campus, a significant travel expense which team members cover with the help of the team money they received from Whitman after the varsity program was cut.

Both skiing and cycling encourage beginners to try out for their teams, illustrating another feature of club sports:  the ability for athletes of all levels to participate.

“The experience is as intense as you want to make it,” said Devlin. “We ski because we love it.”

Chelsea Momany, a senior and avid cyclist, reiterated Devlin’s point. With a such a large team–between 30 and 40 members, by Momany’s estimation–there is a wide range of expertise and commitment.

Photo Credit: Zach Rosenberg

“That’s one reason I like the club sport setup–you can choose how much time you can spend on it.”

The cycling team’s main season in the spring begins after months of off-season preparation. Training rides in the fall are generally longer and easier, whereas spring rides tend to be shorter and more intense.

“In the winter we train with a combination of stationary biking and cross-training: weights, core, swimming, running and cross country skiing–which is great cross-training for cycling,” said Momany.

The cycling team has a long history of excellence as a club sport, having more than a few national championships under their belts.

“We like it as a club,” said junior Rachel Hoar, the team’s publicist. “And we’ve proven that we can be hugely successful as a club.”

Without a coach to assist new members, more experienced cyclists collectively take on the role, reaching out to help out those with less experience.

“All of the returning members do a really good job of teaching the new riders how to dress, how to train, how to recover, how to ride,” said Momany. “I love cycling, and I love teaching people about it. I love getting people excited about it.”

As a sophomore, now-senior Simon Pendleton remembers the team’s spirit of enthusiasm and love for the sport as the things that drew him to start cycling.

“I had done cross country running, soccer, track and Ultimate before, but I started riding and got to know this team. I was hooked instantly,” he said.

Now in his final year, he is heavily involved with the inner workings of the team.

“We’ve been working nonstop on budgets, sponsors, fundraising and getting equipment in order since getting back for the fall. But we love it, as much hassle as it is,” said Pendleton.

Being a club allows members of both cross country skiing and cycling to  take an active role in shaping their own athletic experience.

“All the work we put into the team binds us to our teammates and our sport,” said Hoar. “I can’t imagine my life without it.”

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