Mountain Biking Continues to Attract Corner Canyon StudentsNov 06, 2015 09:09AM ● By Ron Bevan
By Ron Bevan
Draper - Think the football team has a lot of students on it? Well, at Corner Canyon it’s a little known club sport that draws the biggest percentage of the student body.
Mountain biking roared onto the Corner Canyon campus from day one and continues to attract more than its share of riders.
“We still have the largest mountain biking team in the nation,” Whitney Pogue, Corner Canyon’s mountain biking coach, said. “We have 138 kids on the team this year, which is down by five from last year’s squad.”
Corner Canyon’s mountain biking program has attracted students from the day the school opened, when the team had more riders than all the high schools in New York combined.
Part of the continued success at Corner Canyon comes in the younger grades, when freshmen who have ridden in riding clubs first come to the school. But this year Pogue saw a different group of students.
“It was interesting to me when we had signups that we had a lot of sophomores who were new riders,” Pogue said. “It was like last year’s freshmen riders told their friends how much fun it is. Word of mouth got out that this is something special and the kids want to be a part of it.”
It also helps that one of the best riding areas is located near the school in aptly named Corner Canyon.
“There is great accessibility to trails around here,” Pogue said. “It helps in that we get interest in kids that have never ridden on trails before. We loan them a bike and they pick up the sport pretty fast.”
The sport is contested in four different levels at the high school level: freshman, sophomore, junior varsity and varsity. Unlike other sports where you graduate to varsity and junior varsity as you progress through school, mountain biking makes the promotions based on riding times from the previous year. Freshmen and sophomores start out at their respective levels, but if a freshman does well, they will be on junior varsity the next year. The same happens with sophomores to the varsity level.
“It is a mandatory raise if your times are good enough,” Pogue said. “You have to earn the privilege to race varsity, not just by grade level.”
And Corner Canyon does have a large team of girls this season, with over 40 girls on the team.
“It is unheard of even nationally to have that many girls riding,” Pogue said. “They have formed a little sisterhood. We have the cutest, prettiest, toughest girls out there.”
But how does one coach handle such a large team? Pogue uses a variety of volunteers throughout each practice and race.
“We have great community support here in Draper,” Pogue said. “I end up managing a small corporation of parents. So many people want to get in and help out because they see their kids having fun.”
Perhaps the best reward for Pogue is to watch the change come over her charges.
“It is fun to watch these kids work hard all year,” Pogue said. “It is fun to see them strengthen their bodies and sharpen their minds and see them realize, ‘Oh my gosh, I can do tough things.’ They then go out and help others realize the same thing.”