My Story: Jamie Youngblood, Paulding County Team Founder

Hello, My name is Jamie Youngblood, husband to Lisa and father to Sydney and Mason. I helped create and start what would become the Paulding County Composite MTB Racing Team.

 

I was born and raised in Carroll County, GA. I got my first bike at age 7 , a super sweet yellow and black Huffy Pro Thunder, which I promptly sent straight into a tree in our front yard! My father liked to take the family to the movies once a month for entertainment no matter what movie was playing,(small town only had one screen) so I got to see Rad, American Flyers, Quicksilver and Breaking Away in theaters and I wanted nothing more than to be racing hell track and be a bike courier while training for the “tour”. I was that kid who rode his bicycle everywhere: to school, to work, to football practice, to church sometimes, you might even say I was the bicycle Forest Gump of Villa Rica. If I was going somewhere, I was riding my bicycle……. and then I turned 17, bought a car and all my bikes got hung up on the garage wall or sold off over time as I went off to school, built my career and started a family.

 

 

I was reintroduced to the sport 20 years later by my dear friend and mentor, Chris Wade, who at the time was my running buddy, He invited me to a SORBA event called “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day” at MT Tabor park in Paulding County, knowing I had a heart for youth ministries.  As luck would have it, the local SORBA chapter loaned me this super janky full rigid Raleigh bike and then rode off leaving me to conquer Mt Tabor on my own, on a full rigid, first bike ride in 20 years…..by myself!!!!  It was the best day ever, I was completely inept and fell so many times, my arms hurt, my butt hurt, my shins were shredded, my heart was pounding in my chest, I couldn’t breathe and I was completely hooked!!!!!!!

 

 

Derek Boyd was also there and we struck up a friendship that day , he would later go on to start the Cherokee County Warrior MTB racing team. We would also go on to serve together as MTB Patrol and on the SORBA boards. Fast Forward a few years and several bike upgrades later, while Derek was starting the Cherokee team he asked if I would help him out by riding sweep at some of the team practices on Evans farm. Once a week I would ride sweep for them and every week this girl would be in the back struggling, crying and having a hard time but she never gave up and would listen and apply all the tips we would give her. That girl ended up getting on the podium for her last race that year, that’s when I decided I wanted to be a coach. That same year , I think it was the 3rd season for the league, Derek let me tag along to a NICA race at the Georgia International Horse Park, where I got to witness what a race weekend was all about and meet some of the core staff and discuss what starting a team was about. That day, I decided that Paulding County needed a youth MTB racing team.

 

 

Starting a team is not for the faint of heart, our first year was fraught with some abnormally difficult obstacles, to the point that I considered quitting. It was ultimately my daughter, Sydney that said to me “Dad, you can’t let these kids down, they need this as much as you do” and she was right. At that point, I called a parent meeting and laid it all out, that it is not “my team” but that it’s “our team” and if we wanted it to survive and be successful that we had to do it together. All of the parents stepped up and became coaches! Our 2nd year was unbelievable!!!!!! We doubled in size, my daughter joined the team and fell in love with cycling , we won 3rd for the team competition (TWICE!) and my coaches became some of the best friends I could have ever asked for.

 

 

The best thing about the decision to join GICL and become a coach is watching your kids progress, when they get that skill , conquer that obstacle, get that first podium and now, when they themselves become a coach. My daughter was one of these kids, joining the team with zero cycling experience and a hand me down bike, she was that girl crying in the woods, struggling but she had grit, she trained hard, earned the respect of her teammates and finished her senior year #6 in the state , Not bad for a girl that had never ridden a bike until two years ago! That story is not uncommon in our sport, I can look at each kid on our team and name at least 10 things about how much they have grown over the years. The decision to join GICL and become a coach was absolutely the best decision I made as an adult! It has brought my family together, we all cycle now. It has given me some of the most meaningful and rewarding relationships. It has allowed us to change the landscape of youth sports in our county.  I can go on and on!!!

 

My advice is that if you are on the fence about joining or starting a team , DO IT!!!! It will be one of the most rewarding decision of your adult life!