The cycling community and industry has been quick to back the fledgling Southern California Interscholastic Cycling League (SoCal League), which has made rapid progress since the announcement of its formation on August 4.
Matt Fritzinger, founder and director of the NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League, and now also director of the SoCal League, said, "It's amazing what has happened since our original announcement and launch of the SoCal website. So many teachers, potential coaches, parents, and students have contacted us. Because of the newly formed and enthusiastic founding committee, and receptive bloggers, the word has spread fast. Last week while scouting venues for camps and races, we kept running into mountain bikers of all ages that already knew about it. With this kind of growth potential we are grateful to have so much industry support."
Easton Sports Development Foundation II provided the seed money for the new league, and other companies, including Clif Bar, Specialized, Trek Bikes, Wilderness Trail Bikes and Crank Brothers, have not hesitated to come to the party.
"It's very exciting to see the cycling community come together so quickly and so generously, so that high school students from Southern California have an opportunity to compete in a school-based sport that has been so successful in Northern California," said Jim Easton, head of the Easton Sports Development Foundation II. "Future competition, not only between the schools but between the best riders in Northern and Southern California, can only increase the interest and growth of high school cycling."
Working closely with Fritzinger, the SoCal League president, Quintin Easton, has already gathered a founding committee, and identified 15 prospective teams, including the Rim of the World High School, which already existed and had been preparing to join the NorCal League.
"There's a lot of singletrack right out the back of our school, so it made sense for me to start teaching mountain biking," said Rim of the World PE teacher, Scott Craft, who actually teaches mountain biking as a PE class, using a pool of 50 mountain bikes. Craft says he will soon approach the school board to change the team's status from a club to a school sporting team. Located at Lake Arrowhead, the Rim of the World High School team has 25 members.
Craft and a former masters national cross country champion, Jon Tanklage, are heading the effort at Rim of the World school. Both are members of the new League's founding committee along with Easton, Dorothy Wong, Tonya Bray, Robert Herber, Stephanie Gaudreau, Anna Lang, Cici Arenas, Matt Gunnell and Patrick OKane. This team will help the SoCal League get off the ground with its inaugural five-race cross-country series slated to begin in January 2009.
The SoCal League has the potential to provide access to cycling for young people who need a hand getting involved," said Christina Orlandella of Crank Brothers, explain why industry has so quickly come on board. "This is a benefit to the students, to the schools, to the community and to the sport itself. The SoCal League will bring new people into the sport, and many will become avid racers or recreational cyclists for life. SoCal League members represent the future of our sport."