One of the most important developments to come out of the world of USA mountain biking has been the explosive growth of high school racing. This month we reached out to coach Dominic Maricic to learn about the Damien High School Mountain Bike Racing Team in La Verne, California.
Damien High School Mountain Bike Racing Team.
The sweet taste of success.
Where did the name come from?
The team is named after Damien High School, but the team is actually comprised of students from Damien, an all-boys Catholic school, and St. Lucy’s, an all-girls Catholic school. The team is one of the first in the nation to take advantage of a single-sex school rule to combine two single-sex schools into one team.
Focused and charging.
Which league do you race with?
SoCal High School Cycling League.
Students also have access to an indoor training room.
When was the team started?
We started a road biking team in 2012, and the mountain biking team started in 2013. This is the sixth year we have been part of the SoCal NICA League. During our road biking season, we’ve done local rides like the Haynes Boys Home Charity Rides, which consists of 45 miles and over 5000 feet of climbing, and the Tour de Foothills century ride. During the mountain biking season, we’re competing in five NICA races, plus the state championships against the NorCal League. Many riders on the team also compete in local race series to improve their skills.
Team building in the canyons of Arizona.
How many boys and how many girls are on the team?
Currently, we have 19 high school boys and four high school girls. We also have three middle school boys and one middle school girl as part of our middle school component. Our average practice this year had 21 riders and three or four coaches.
What is your favorite course?
The team’s favorite course is Vail Lake in Temecula, California. It’s a fun roller-coaster-type course with lots of great singletrack. We always get a large campsite where the whole team, plus family members, can relax, have great food, set up an outdoor movie the night before the race, and bond.
Any team or school fun facts?
For the first five years in the league, the team had never placed higher than ninth overall. This year we’ve maintained third place overall in the league through the first three races, which is extremely impressive, as we don’t have any varsity riders this year. We’ll have several next year and are looking to improve our rank!
Over the last six years, the team has gone on many bonding trips. We’ve been rappelling down canyons in Arizona, ridden through the Valley of Fire north of Las Vegas and gone river rafting down the Middle Fork of the American River.
Many members of the team have gotten jobs at local cycling shops, such as Incycle in San Dimas, to help support their cycling addiction.
Our road biking team cycles from August through November and mountain bikes from December to May. We also run a one-week camp for middle school and new high school riders over the summer that existing riders help out with.
We host an annual (four so far!) food truck movie night to fundraise for the team. For the last six years, the team has been 100-percent financially self-sustained. These funds have been used to purchase and maintain a set of team bikes for students who can’t afford them and 10 Wahoo Kickers for our indoor training room.
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