Thanks to Coach Will Brown for giving us the inside scoop on the Oconee County Composite MTB Team. Coach Brown is a Parent Coach with the Oconee County team and helps Head Coach, Ben Hobbs, with the team administration/logistics.
Georgia League: Can you give us some general stats on the team – area, # of students, make-up of the team (i.e. schools, # of boys # of girls, # of MS and HS, where do you practice?
Coach Will: We have 15 total riders, including 3 girls. We have riders from North Oconee High School, Malcom Bridge Middle School, Prince Avenue Christian School and home school. We practice at Heritage Park with the Oconee County High School Team
Georgia League: How did your team get started?
Coach Will:Our Head Coach, Ben Hobbs, has known most of the team for a long time. He worked at a local bike shop and has run mountain bike camps through Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department for years. I think my son went to his first one in 4th or 5th grade and has gone every year. There are two or three others that have also been there every year also. My son is a junior now and helps Ben run the camp with the other veterans. Ben has also been informally coaching a number of our riders for Enduro races throughout the southeast. They are all very successful, making the podium in youth, mens/womens sport, and even expert/pro class. When Ben decided to start the NICA team a year and a half ago, many kids that he knew from racing enduros, the bike shop and camps decided to join. Because of the number of riders we have, the team had to split for scoring this season. But we still do everything together except the team podium.
Georgia League: What is your Coaching Philosophy and what are your goals for the 2018 season?
Coach Will: The emphasis is on everyone on the team doing their best and supporting all of the other riders on the team. One thing that has helped our team bond is the team dinners that we have before races. We started this last year. Everyone goes to one families home for a potluck on friday night. The student athletes and the parents have gotten to know each other much better and look forward to these events. With the new race format this year, we aren’t able to do it for every race, which makes everyone look forward to it even more.
Georgia League: Are there any compelling stories of student-athletes or coaches on your team?
Coach Will: . I think we should highlight our only senior on the composite team, Brenna Griggs. Brenna provides great leadership to the team with her positive attitude, hard work and never-quit determination. She really showed the team what she is made of at the Dauset race last year. During the race Brenna’s chain snapped. Determined to finish, Brenna ran the rest of the race, pushing her bike. As Brenna sprinted to the finish, the entire team was out there cheering her on.
Brenna worked hard over this past summer to prepare for this season, hoping to race in the Varsity category as a senior. While she didn’t qualify initially, she kept working hard at practice and pushing herself during races. Her hard work paid of when her race time at Bartram qualified her for Varsity. She went on to take 3rd Place at Heritage. This was a personal best finish for Brenna and her points helped the team take first place at the race. Brenna exemplifies what our team is about. She always works hard, has a smile on her face and does everything she can to support her teammates.
Georgia League: What’s the most important detail you want to communicate to the public about your team – i.e. accomplishments, major changes, challenges, needs, awareness to recruit more athletes, etc.
Coach Will: We are all about having fun riding! Even though we practice twice a week, we have riders that try to get out on the trail everyday because they love it. I also want to highlight our head coach, Ben Hobbs. We do have many student athletes that are excelling and showing excellent leadership and I attribute a lot of this to Ben. He also shows excellent leadership and personal sacrifice for the team. Ben is an Oconee native and graduated from North Oconee High School. Ben works with Bikefettish in Clayton, and has been able to balance his head coach duties with his career. I am very impressed by his commitment to the team, his leadership and all the time he volunteers to make each of our student athletes and our team a success. Ben is also very successful in racing. He recently place 5th at USA cycling national championship. His passion for biking is contagious. I know from talking with him that he also has a passion for coaching, watching kids develop and excel throughout the season and beyond.