Team Hardwood-Trek expands with Trillium Grant.
Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop, right, is pictured with Team Hardwood-Trek at Hardwood Ski and Bike Saturday. Team Hardwood-Trek will receive $75,800 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation over three years. SARA ROSS – THE PACKET & TIMES
Team Hardwood-Trek is opening its mountain bike development program to younger and older riders with help from a$75,800 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, says head coach Rob Fex.
“We’ve been looking to expand. Part of the challenge is funding and to have the money to give you the resources to do this,” Fex said. “This is our kick in the pants to get us going.”
To date, the team, based out of Hardwood Ski and Bike in Oro-Medonte Township, has focused its efforts on training eight- to 18-year-olds. The $75,800 grant, doled out over three years, will allow Team Hardwood-Trek to teach ages six to 70.
“We take these kids into introductory mountain biking and cycling, we develop them and we have a path that can lead them right up to being some of the best athletes in Canada,” Fex said.
Team Hardwood-Trek will develop a program for newcomers, aged six to seven, and will create a masters program for the parents of young athletes.
“It’s a family sport,” Fex said. “Even if you can’t keep up to your kid, you can still go out and ride with them. You don’t have to sit on an arena bench and watch them.”
On Saturday, Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop and Frank Steeve, Trillium’s Simcoe-York grant review team, congratulated Team Hardwood-Trek on its achievement.
“We want to give money to things that benefit the youth. We want to benefit communities,” Steeve said. “When you get young people involved, then it carries on.”
Dunlop said the grant is worth much more than its cash value.
“The reality is that turns into so much more money with the volunteer time, the in-kind work, the donations you get from different projects and that sort of thing,” he said. “Quite often, these grants turn out to be at least twice or three times the amount of money you actually receive in the value it is to your community.”
Team Hardwood-Trek is one of Canada’s largest mountain bike development programs, Fex said. In 2013, Hardwood hosted the Canadian XC Mountain Bike Championships. Five of the national champions were trained through Team Hardwood-Trek, Fex said.
“The focus of what we do is having fun, family and developing friendships. The by-product of that is we develop really fast cyclists,” he said.
In 2013, Team Hardwood-Trek was made up of 48 families.
“This year, we hope to expand by 20%,” Fex said.
With the grant funding, Team Hardwood-Trek plans to upgrade its coaching certification by sending its coaches to professional development programs, Fex said.
“Coaching is probably the best thing we do. So, to keep good coaches and to train good coaches … some extra money was absolutely crucial for us,” he said.
The team also plans to purchase equipment like additional indoor cycling trainers.
Racing her mountain bike through the forest is what got Dana Gilligan involved with Team Hardwood-Trek.
“I just came out for the Wednesday night series and I got hooked and came back ever since. It’s just fun,” the 14-year-old said.
Gilligan began four years ago and is now on Team Hardwood-Trek’s gold team.
She is pleased to see the program recognized by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
“It’s great and (will get) more people to ride their bike,” Gilligan said.