The CCAP - What made you want to get involved with leading the cycling club/team?
Wayne - Karen Franzen came to me and explained the grant that the CCAP was offering. In a school with 50% attendance rate, I was hoping that it would encourage the students to come to school even if it was for race days or practice days.
The CCAP - What progress have you seen from the kids over the time you have been the coach?
Wayne - In the beginning 5-8 students would tell me they were going to the race, but the day of the race only 1 or 2 students would show up. They were able to complete 2-3 laps or not finish the race at all. This year I have 10-12 who want to race, with 5 showing up on race day. That was due to the limited seating in the truck I was renting to transport the students. The students would not only finish, but 2 dedicated students placed 1st and 2nd in the series.
The CCAP - Have there been any surprises along the way, good or bad?
Wayne - Yes. So for good, some of the most ill-behaved students in the school are absolutely amazing during the races. I have many stories that come to mind, but one student this year was especially impressive. Travis was just back from a 5-day suspension and stopped by my room to ask if he could go to the race that was occurring that day. I was a little apprehensive because I did not have a relationship with Travis yet and I knew he had a quick temper and hated school, but I decided to say yes anyway. Travis started the race strong and kept it going for many laps, but on the last lap, his front tire went flat. As he was walking off the course the other coaches, and I tried to encourage him to at least walk the bike to finish the race because his team needed the points He shrugged his shoulders and agreed but instead of walking the bike the rest of the way he popped a wheelie and rode the rest of the course on one wheel. Not only was he weaving around the turns but passing some exhausted racers, as he crossed the finish line people from all teams clapped and cheered and his teammates ran over to congratulate him at the finish line. I have never seen a bigger smile on a student's face, and now anytime I see that Travis is having a bad day, I mention that moment, knowing it brings a smile to his face.
The CCAP - That's an excellent story. We have photos from that race, and the wheelies were terrific! On that note, New Haven is a focus for the CCAP. Have you seen a general increase in awareness for riding among youth and other teachers?
Wayne - Many schools have expressed interest in the program but do not have a dedicated person to coach the team. I know for a fact that there are many students interested in racing in other schools but without a school coach, they do not have an opportunity to go to a race.