While the sport of mountain biking has skyrocketed in popularity across Alabama during the pandemic, our state does not yet have a varsity-level collegiate team. Thanks to the University of Montevallo (UM), that’s about to change. We spoke to Kim Moon, Director of Health Services, and Dr. Shawn Mitchell, Head Coach, to find out as much as we could about their new program, course and scholarships.
The University of Montevallo is currently recruiting riders for the inaugural Falcons Cycling mountain biking team for Fall 2022
UM is getting ready to welcome their first class of riders. This will give high school riders in Alabama and Mississippi their first opportunity to continue racing and be part of the community while staying close to home. While there’s currently a club team at Auburn, there’s nothing at the varsity level—yet.
- Head coach: Dr. Shawn Mitchell, Associate Professor and Chair of Exercise and Nutrition Science at UM
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UM is planning to transform the city’s former golf course into a world-class mountain biking course
Can you think of a better use for a former golf course than riding and experiencing other fitness trails? When it’s completed, the course will serve as the home course for the Falcons Cycling program.
Here are some of the features they want to include:
- Bike shop
- Wash station
- Work areas for each student athlete on the team
There will be scholarships for the new mountain biking team
Because this team will be at the varsity level, there will be scholarships available. While organizers are currently working out the details, they know the scholarships will come from UM President Dr. John W. Stewart III’s office.
This follows the model of the University’s successful Outdoor Scholars/Bass Fishing team, which took the national title last year.
Meet some of the key people behind the new team
Dr. Shawn Mitchell, Head Coach
As we mentioned before, Dr. Shawn Mitchell is the head coach for the Falcons Cycling program. He grew up in Arizona and has been riding mountain bikes for over 30 years.
“We were riding old cattle trails before they were mountain bike trails. We just rode bikes—that’s all we ever did.”Dr. Mitchell
He’s so passionate about mountain biking, he did his doctoral research on the sport, studying the physiological characteristics of mountain bikers as well as the ways they were training.
While this will be his first venture into coaching mountain biking, he loves the sport and rides all the time. In addition, Mitchell is a certified strength conditioning specialist with the National Strength Conditioning Association. He’s looking forward to bringing strength training to the team.
Kimberly Moon, Director of Health Services
Kimberly Moon is Director of Health Services at UM. Professionally, she’s a physician assistant and has been working at UM for eight years.
She and her husband Lenny live in Alabaster, where they serve as parent volunteer coaches for the Thompson High School team. They started the team last year and their daughters currently compete. They’ve been a part of Birmingham’s cycling community since before they had children.
“I love the University of Montevallo. I love the atmosphere here and the size of our school. Being able to add a cycling team is so exciting because I’ve seen how much it’s done for my family. Adding the sport’s community atmosphere to our campus will bring another set of people to campus and will give our high school riders an opportunity to continue their sport in college, whether for competition or for fun.”Kim Moon
Five things the new Head Coach of the Falcons Cycling program is most excited about
- Getting the team started is a dream come true.
- The golf course provides a lot of land for the trail system.
- There’s a lot of support within the University.
- UM will be able to provide opportunities for high school riders to stay and ride locally if they want to.
- Riders will play an active role in putting the trail system together.