By Cady Inabinett
The start of the new academic year also marks the beginning of new seasons for Montevallo’s fall athletics. This includes the university’s new cycling team, which will be led by Coach Jennifer Nichols—who was announced as the team’s inaugural coach this July.
Nichols said that cycling has always been a huge part of her life, starting with BMX as a child before getting involved with mountain biking as a teenager.
“Cycling was a hobby that became a passion and eventually turned into coaching opportunity,” Nichols noted, going on to say, “I love mentoring student athletes and seeing their progress and success.”
She also spoke on the connection between athletic training and athletes’ lives outside of sports, saying, “Helping athletes develop mental fortitude not only helps them reach their athletic goals but also helps them with everyday life experiences.”
Nichols has a history of coaching, too. She worked as team director and coach of Helena High School’s Mountain biking team from 2019 until being hired as UM’s coach.
Collegiate mountain biking has a fall race series. Nichols said the UM team will be competing on a schedule set by the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference and USA Cycling. The season will culminate in the national championships, taking place from Oct. 13-16 at the Purgatory Resort in Durango, Colo.
Montevallo is looking to one day be a host site for races as well. The university’s former golf course is being transformed into a biking course that will serve as the team’s home course and host competitions.
Cyclists from UM’s team, which currently has six cyclists, will compete in both endurance and gravity—a type of mountain biking in which cyclers focus on using gravity to propel themselves downhill — mountain biking events.
Montevallo’s team is the first varsity cycling program in Alabama. Nichols points to this as, “a great opportunity to recruit and retain local talent.” She also pointed out that scholarship will be available for cyclists.
Nichol’s is focused on developing UM’s cycling team for future seasons as well, saying, “We also look forward to developing a large, diverse team of riders at all levels equally contributing to the team’s success in conference competition but also developing elite riders to compete at the national level.”
Cady Inabinett is the managing editor of content for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies and generally just being pretentious in her free time.