Park City High MTB Team shifts gears for more low income families

PARK CITY, Utah — Once again, the Park City High School (PCHS) Mountain Bike Team has been granted four National Trek Pathfinder Scholarships for students within the Park City community. Trek partnered with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) to grow diversity in cycling and provide better access for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).

The Trek Pathfinder Scholarships provide all the necessary equipment a student needs to ride, including NICA registration fees. This is the second year Trek has offered the awards. With the help of the Park City Community Foundation, the PCHS team received two awards last season. Students get to keep their bikes, a Trek Marlin 7 with an approximate value of $1200, and if they need to change a bike the following year because of growth, Trek will provide a new bike, and the older bike can be donated back to the team for another student. The local TREK bike shop, Storm Cycles, donated their time to fit each bike to the athlete to ensure each student was good to ride.

This year the PCHS MTB team has offered eight full scholarships to local community members, with five student-athletes from the LatinX community. The scholarship program assists students from the BIPOC community with financial aid and support for supplies where needed. PCCF’s RISE fund will help cover other costs like uniforms and travel.

Ozzy, Aitana, and Aisha from the PCHS MTB Team. Photo: Heather Sims and Barry Hill Photography.
History has shown that BIPOC student-athletes face more significant challenges in bike racing, and PCHS MTB aims to mitigate these issues by providing financial support, community resources, and support to people of color and low-income families. Team Director Chris Best said in a statement, “Several of our riders come from the LatinX community where cycling as a sport (at least for now) is uncommon. I think we are on our way to changing that. It’s simply a matter of getting the ball rolling. Oftentimes, the best role model a kid can have is their peers. They see their friends challenging themselves, and they realize they, too, can ‘do hard things.’ This sport has largely grown by this simple idea. As we spread outside our typical reach, I think we’ll see this growth repeat itself across all of our communities.” The Utah High School Mountain Bike League is the biggest in the country, with over 7,000 students participating this year.
Heather Sims heads up the PCHS MTB scholarship program and admits that on a team of 200 athletes, it will take some time to match the Park City community demographics. “To be able to get 40 kids from low-income families on bikes would be the ultimate goal, but at this moment, [it’s] a little unrealistic. It is not just getting students a bike. It’s also about transportation to trailheads and races, which is a huge barrier when races are held in the southern part of the state”.
While the long-term goal is 40 scholarships, the team has more than doubled its scholarship recipients since last year. The scholarship program has taken a more formal approach over the last couple of years, as the team director had previously helped out families where needed.
Best believes, “No one should be denied the opportunity to participate in sports because they cannot afford it. Nor should anyone be discouraged from participation simply because they come from a background where cycling (or sports in general) is not the norm. The desire to participate should be enough.
“Every sports program has, at its core, a need to reflect the community it serves. Even more so with one our size. Two of the five core principles of NICA are community and inclusivity. To us, this means providing a path for everyone, regardless of background, the opportunity to participate,” said Best.
Génesis Munoz, a 2021 scholarship recipient, had never been on some trails around Park City until joining the team last year. Sims remembers her in total awe when looking down on Park City from the 9K trail, “I have lived here all my life and have never seen Park City like this,” Genesis exclaimed. The social side of the team is just as important as the training and competing, with social events planned just for the girls and full team events. With 200 riders, athletes see their teammates at school and discuss the week’s training or races, allowing students from all backgrounds to bond over the bike. 
For more information about the Park City High School Team, go to 

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