Why you should get a coach

June 21st, 2018 by tcoffey

Hello! My name is Tim Coffey and I am 18 years. I race mountain, road, and cyclocross. In the fall I will be attending Brevard College in Brevard, NC to be on the cycling team. I am new to Team Athletic Mentors and am excited to by supported and surrounded by such awesome people.

So as I wrapped up my season last fall I started figuring out ways I could race in the winter. I made some phone calls and send some emails and ended up racing Fat Bikes for a custom bike company, which was pretty cool but it was only a 4 month deal. During this time of freezing my butt off everyday riding in northern Michigan I started to look for a team I could join. I had frequented the Team Athletic Mentors website over the years because I enjoyed reading the blogs which is ironic because I’m writing one now. Anyway, when looking for a team I kept finding myself back to the Team Athletic Mentors website. I decided to send in an application and the rest is history.

Fast forward a couple of months. It was my first day of training camp in Brevard. After talking to Terry Ritter on the phone a couple of times and texting camp details back and forth I wasn’t quite sure what the dude would be like. We were standing in the kitchen making breakfast, having conversation about the days ride, and Terry was weighting his strawberry. I looked at him and went “Terry, what are you doing” in that (I’m 18 and I know everything about everything voice). He went on to tell me about his stuff with measuring his food, tracking everything, and his masters degree in food (nutrition). I knew he had coached people in the past and as the week went on I realized this dude knows his stuff. Short after camp I asked Terry to start coaching me and it’s pretty cool.

After about a month of being coached,here are my reasons why you should get a coach:

1.Ever ride had a purpose. Something that purpose hurts and other times is all about having fun.

2.You will get faster. Doing threshold or Vo2 Max intervals may not be fun but they will make you faster.

3.You have someone to ask questions to. Having someone you can text who has been racing bikes for several years is so helpful when you need answers.

4.You’ll have someone to watch you and tell you what you’re doing well on and what you can improve on.

5.You learn to recover better off and on the bike. Either in between intervals or when you’re in street clothes you’ll take every moment you can to recover.

6.It gives you a plan. Whether it’s long-term or short-term you’ll have a plan laid out of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.

7.It’s cool. Having someone to give you workouts is simply cool.

8.Gives you excuses. When you’re on your next fast group ride or in a practice race and someone wants you to pull you can pull the famous “sorry, coach says I have to keep my heart rate below 150 today.”

9.You open doors. “Every person you meet knows someone you don’t”. Your coach will have connections and know a lot of people in the cycling industry that you don’t. Use them and build some bridges.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with asking someone for help. Some people consider asking for help is only for the week but when that help is a coach, you will only get stronger.

Ego and the Team

June 13th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

Every cyclist that races has some ego attached to what they do. Whether they are racing for a win or racing for their own best effort, the ego is ever-present and hard to ignore.

But, when you race for a team, the ego has to take a back seat (or a back wheel) to the team. When you are competing on a team in a road race or criterium, it has to be about the team’s podium – whether that is yours or your teammate’s.

This past weekend, my teammate, Elaine and I, raced the BTR criterium (in the pouring rain) on Saturday and Race for the Wishes road race on Sunday. There are only 2 of us, and we both are best in time trial mode… meaning, we have our best results when we can get away from the pack. In racing, we call this a “break,” when a rider or group of riders has broken away from the pack to win the race. With this in mind, our mutual goal was to get one of us in a break.

If one makes a break, it is the other teammate’s job to slow the peloton’s chase by not participating in any efforts to reel the break back into the peloton, and chasing down any other break, sitting second wheel, and again no participating in the pull efforts.

Toward the end of the race on Saturday, at BTR criterium, I chased a rider who went for a prime (a prize for crossing the line first on a bell lap) and got away. The person I chased couldn’t hold on, so I rode solo 4-5 miles, building distance between myself and the rest of the riders. Because I had a teammate in the peloton, I knew that one of the strongest riders behind me, Elaine, would not be pulling to reel me back in.

She let the others try to chase me down without lending a hand. And, I can tell you- this is hard to do. When you know your lack of contribution to the chase means likely giving up a podium spot – the ego has to be set aside. But, this is what being on a team is all about.
Sunday, I had the opportunity to do the same thing for Elaine. 


She chased a break that stuck and worked with the two other women to build a comfortable lead going into the last lap of a 17 mile course (3 total laps for the race). Meanwhile, I was sitting in the peloton, frustrating the other riders by refusing to assist in chasing the break. I set my ego aside and took joy in knowing that Elaine would take well-earned podium spot.

The end result? I was able to maintain my break for a win at BTR. Elaine hammered home a 2nd place finish at the State Championship road race. But, really, we both stood on the podium at both races because we accomplished these things together.

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Tour of the Gila: Part 2: Bobby’s Journey

June 11th, 2018 by Elaine Sheikh

We’re on about hour 10 of the 26 hour drive to New Mexico. Teammate Bobby (Robert) Munro (who happens to be my significant other as well) and I are crammed into a Kia Soul with our bikes, camping equipment and luggage.

I can’t believe we’re actually going to the Tour of the Gila!” I exclaim: “I’m going to blog about this, so don’t steal my blog.”

“Well, actually I was thinking about that.” Bobby says with a smile while he looks ahead at the road. “We can write about each other’s races! I’ll give you the highlights of my race, and you can do the same for me. We’re riding on the same course so we can just write about each other’s’ experiences.”

Hence, this blog. You’ve already read Bobby’s recap, you know that Tour of the Gila is a UCI professional stage race held in Silver City, New Mexico. Silver City rests at 6,000 ft of elevation, and every stage of the road race crosses the continental divide, often climbing above 8,000 ft. Rob Britton, 2x Tour of the Gila champion and professional cyclist for Rally, has been quoted to say that the combination of climbing and elevation makes this race the hardest of the North American stage races leading into Tour of California. The professionals tend to use this race as a tune-up event for Tour of California, but this is one of the few stage races that features an amateur field. As such, the amateurs show up fit and ready to go.

Now for an introduction to Bobby:

  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 82 kg
  • Strengths: Strong in breakaways, respectable sprint, expert donut eater
  • Weaknesses: Climbs with a gradient > 4%

With those intros out of the way, we can jump into the race.

Day 1: Race to Mogollon (Pronounced Moe-ghee-on): This is a 75 mile point-to-point that is essentially a net downhill until the base of Mogollon, which is an iconic climb to a mountain top finish. Bobby knew he wouldn’t be competitive at the finish against the field of young up-and-coming juniors smashing their way through the cat 3 field on their way to a pro contract. His goal was to crush the intermediate sprints. He was able to snag a 2nd in the first intermediate sprint, but soon after a break was established and as their gap grew, they were able to easily sweep the rest of the sprints. Bobbystayed with the main pack until the base of the climb, then rode it in to the finish. Mountains aren’t kind to the big boys.

Day 2: Inner Loop Road Race. The juniors of Lux and Team Swift started flexing their quads early in the day. The pack was blown to shreds and groups of 2 and 3 battled their way through the crosswinds and up the final climb. Bobby needed to work with others and give it some real effort to make the time cut, which were strictly enforced in the men’s 3 field. He succeeded and rode in just in time. He would get to fight another day.

Day 3: Tyrone TT. For one, neither of us own TT bikes. For two, a windy day in New Mexico is sustained winds of 25 mph with 40 mph gusts. Not ideal when you have a crosswind for the entire TT. Knowing he was under-equipped for the TT and is a strong criterium rider, Bobby chose to conserve his energy for the next day.

Day 4: Criterium. We quickly learned that we in the Midwest are much more experienced with criteriums than our Western amateur colleagues. Bobby raced a smart crit but unfortunately was second wheel to an inexperienced rider who grabbed his brakes coming into the last turn. Bobby was able to get around him and sprint to 5th, but the split second of slowing and loss of momentum allowed a line of racers to come around the inside.  This unfortunately cost Bobby a podium position.

Day 5: Gila Monster. Gila Monster boasts a 10 mile climb to the finish. The pack stuck together for 60 miles to the base of the climb. Then it was go time. Bobby spun his way up the mountain with time to walk around and recover before watching the women’s finish.

I asked Bobby at the end of the week what he took away from this race. “It’s important as a cyclist to experience different things – things that take you out of your comfort zone to improve yourself” was his response. He certainly stepped outside his comfort zone last week. As a flat-lander from Michigan, elevation is a crushing experience, and as someone who isn’t a strong climber, this race was just about the hardest thing to attempt. Bobby fought through it and came away stronger and smarter. He’s looking forward to a summer of racing in the flat, fast criteriums we specialize in here in the Midwest!

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Tour of the Gila: Elaine’s journey to the podium

May 30th, 2018 by Bobby Munro

Tour of the Gila is a professional stage race in New Mexico that is the highlight of many pro calendars. The best teams from around the country send their riders for glory up high mountain passes. This stage race debuts the best roads around Silver City with Iconic climbs like the road to Pinos Altos and to the Ghost town of Mogollon. What separates this race from many other pro stage races here in America (like Tour of California, Tour of Utah, and Redlands) is that it is open to amateurs. That’s where Elaine comes in. She competed in the Women’s 3/4/5 field.

Stage 1: Inner loop road race. 61 miles. 4,400 ft of climbing
Stage 1 started at Pinos Altos (elv 7,000ft!). The skies were clear but the temps in the mid 30’s. Elaine dressed lighter knowing that it would warm up fast. She stocked up on gels and Infinite drink mix to endure what would be her longest road race ever. She also got a look at the competition. It can be hard to judge your competition by what they look like. However, one thing was clear, she was outnumbered. El Groupo youth cycling sent 3 riders and ALP cycles (as in Alison Powers) sent a whopping 7 riders! The hills can make numbers count for nothing, but this was not reassuring.

Elaine finally relaxed after months of anticipation as the field rolled down the mountain and into battle. Unfortunately for some, the race got off to a bumpy start. There was a crash on the tricky descent 15 miles in and the field neutralized (the right thing to do). All riders were ok but a couple riders opted to slow roll the rest of the stage knowing that there was plenty of action to come in the days to follow. The remainder of the field stayed slow on the ensuing miles of rollers. No one was willing to burn themselves up with a significant climb near the end of the stage.

With 25mi to go, the Cat 3 climb finally broke up the field and 4 riders pulled away (Cory, Tamatha, Brook, and Elaine). The group stayed together and descended towards the finish for a bunch sprint. With 200m to go Cory kicked and the group followed. She was able to make it count and took the red jersey. Elaine claimed 2nd and kept her hopes alive of a strong finish in the overall.

Stage 2. Time Trial. 16 miles

Elaine went into the time trial with confidence. She knew she could lean on her strong triathlon background to bring her to the finish line. But this race presented a new challenge, CROSSWINDS! New Mexico crosswinds are not like Michigan crosswinds. The land of Enchantment brought 20mph sustained winds and 30+mph gusts! Luckily everyone stayed on their bikes, but there were quite a few pucker moments.

Unfortunately Elaine lost time on her competitors on the downhills. A compact chainset was not enough to keep her from spinning out and loosing time on the 3-4% descents. She slid to 4th, over 4 minutes behind Tamatha who stormed the TT.

Stage 3. THE CRIT

Elaine wanted to race aggressively given how prominent criteriums are back in the mitten but the voice of reason prevailed. There was little to gain and so much to lose. ALP constantly sent riders up the road as any strong squad should. Elaine stayed tucked near the front and followed the red jersey as it was primarily her responsibility to chase. With a lap to go, Cory accelerated off the front to take her 2nd win of the race! She took 10 bonus seconds at the line but the overall did not change. Elaine sat in for 6th.

Stage 4. The inner loop road race (counterclockwise this time). 68miles 5,800 ft climbing

While the roads are beautiful in New Mexico, they are not plentiful. There are only really 4 roads out of Silver City, and it just so happens that 2 of them reconnect. Hence, you get stage 1 backwards. This results in a massive climb at the end of 70miles that never disappoints.

When the group hit the rollers a large break of 6 formed which contained 3 ALP riders. The leaders all sat back and conserved their legs. This also meant that Cory (team ALP) got a free ride to the base of the climb. With 15 miles to go the leaders hit the hill and immediately lit it up. Elaine knew that she needed to start early if she wanted a chance to move up in GC. The Red Jersey couldn’t follow and would ultimately loose a spot on the podium.
The 3 remaining GC riders chipped away at the break which had a 6min lead at the base of the undulating climb. With 500m to go, Elaine made one last ditch effort to grab the stage win catch the last escapee but it was not to be. A junior rider from El Groupo stayed the course and took a monumental victory. Cory passed Elaine at the line, which left Elaine with her second stage podium!

Elaine learned a lot this week and held her own against a talented field of racers. Now its back to the flatlands for criterium season in Michigan.

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Stepping out of my comfort zone… the Lexus Velodrome

April 22nd, 2018 by Elaine Sheikh

In January 2018, the Lexus Velodrome opened its doors right in downtown Detroit. This is great news for the Michigan cycling scene. At a time where USAC memberships are declining, road race and criterium participation continues to decrease, and cyclists are gravitating towards gravel road events, where there are in slightly less danger from vehicular traffic, the future of amateur bicycle racing is unknown. Participation by women is especially low, leaving advocates searching for ways to entice more women to ride competitively.

Personally, I’m a roadie. I’ve never had any interest in track cycling. At 5’1” and under 110 lbs, I fly up hills, but lack the raw power that track cyclists are known for. I’m also a little bit afraid of going fast, as anyone who has waited for me at the bottom of a mountain (while I ride the brakes all the way down) knows. If you have spent any time on youtube watching the “track cycling fails” videos,  walking into the center of the velodrome and staring up at the 50 degree banked turns that rise up like a wooden wall before you, will make you shake a little bit. But, I’m a firm believer in stepping outside your comfort zone and doing things that scare you. So in March, I signed up for a Track 101 course on a Saturday morning.

The velodrome provides fixed gear bicycle rentals for only $10, and has multiple bicycles in every size. The bicycles were in excellent condition. They are fitted with Shimano clip-less pedals, but if you don’t have compatible cleats, the velodrome provides shoes as well for no additional cost. The morning started with about 20 participants sitting in the infield while Dale Hughes, the velodrome designer, gave initial instructions on the track itself and riding a fixed gear. As he talked, I looked around. There was only one other female participant besides myself. The majority of the male participants were over the age of 40. Welcome to cycling.

Soon, we were up on the track! I was petrified going into the first turn, convinced I was going to slide down the track and end up with a side full of splinters. When I finally realized that I’m not special and I was going to keep my tires down on the track just like everyone else, I relaxed and began to actually enjoy the speed I could maintain. All in all, we each got to be up on the track at least three times for 5-10 minutes during the 2 hour class. There were three sit-down instructional segments, and then 1 solo attempt on the track and 2 group exercises. Afterwards, there was open track so teammate, Bobby Munro, and I were able to work on additional skills.

Overall, it was an excellent experience. Dale did a great job with instructing, and the bikes and shoes were of good quality and excellent condition. I’m not planning on switching to track cycling any time soon, but I would highly recommend that other cyclists give this a try if given a chance! It’s definitely a “bucket list” experience!
My tips: don’t worry if you’ve never ridden a fixed gear bicycle. As long as you are comfortable riding with clipless pedals, you will be fine. Make sure you bring CLEAR glasses. The air can dry out your eyes when you are traveling at high speeds, but you will be indoors so sunglasses are not ideal. It’s also a little chilly in the velodrome so bring a jacket to wear while sitting around the infield.

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The “Professional” Athlete

April 13th, 2018 by Terry Ritter

One definition offered by the Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word professional as “characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession”. Further, it defines a profession as “a principal calling, vocation, or employment”, another way of saying a profession is a job. Seriousness of conduct is at a higher level then what one would approach with a hobby. Though we don’t race for a living, everyone on a team benefits from professionalism. Here are a few ways to be “professional” and how it positively impacts yourself and the team?



Sharp Dressed (Wo)man

Nothing says “conforming to the technical” like a group that looks the same. More than matching jerseys and bibs, a truly professional look includes socks, helmets, accessory equipment (glasses, gloves, shoe covers, bikes, etc.) and even cool weather wear. It’s imperative riders maintain a clean bike and kit. Team Athletic Mentors’ management puts a lot of attention and effort towards projecting a brand and we all have a role in that.

Take Pride in Your Team

A professionally run team establishes a vision and follows it. TAM has looked to develop riders. Some have gone on to higher ranks, like the ProTour, and even become nationa

l champions. As a member of the team, you are part of that legacy. When other riders see you, they see a team with high standards and a history of success. You have been chosen to continue an image, so take pride. This pride is not just racing or riding in your kit, but wearing the team casual wear during cycling and promotional events.

Team Mates and Sponsors First

Being professional means holding up your end of a bargain. Part of this is supporting the sponsors that provide resources to the team. Take every opportunity to promote sponsors’ products, keeping negative assessments within the team. Following through on your contractual agreements maintains the team’s ability to keep and hold sponsors. Think of your actions as reflecting those on your jersey and in your jersey.

Be an Ambassador

True professionals take responsibility to foster their livelihood. At our level, that means promoting the sport we love. Be approachable by strangers. Look to help more novice racers. Get in front of the camera. Most of us aren’t genetic freaks destine for greatness in cycling, but, rather, people passionate about a sport. Project that passion by supporting it any positive way so people see it means something to someone. People appreciate passion.

Make a Good First Impression

A professional conducts themselves at a high character level consistently. Sharp looking, organized teams get noticed, which makes the need to act your best even more important. Maintain an even keel during the heat of racing. Communicate with others through social media, in person, or other means, as if the spotlight was always on. This includes when giving our opinion with race officials and promoters. Don’t forget having your attire leave no doubt who you race for while on the podium.

Add Value to Your Team

A well run team has a lot of moving pieces. Those pieces working in concert are what make an organization better than the sum of its parts. Try to look for ways to help, even if it’s just to offer your assistance. Most athletes have an expertise in some area(s), even if it’s just time, that can benefit everyone. Few good things happen by chance, but through effort by someone that cared.

Support Your Team Mates

One quality of a good team is people want to be a part of it. This usually isn’t the clothes they get, bikes they ride or deals offered. It comes down to feeling part of something where they are supported. Giving assistance, passing on knowledge, watching a fellow team mate and cheering them on are part of this support. It’s always best to feel we can share our triumphs and tragedies.

It’s a privilege to be on any well run team, but especially ours. Show that appreciation by projecting a professional image and sportsmanship. Represent yourself, your team, and the sport of cycling well.

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50-Mile Ultramarathon: Race Day Tips

April 7th, 2018 by Erin Young

Feeling Anxious and Nervous

You have trained for your first 50-mile ultramarathon. You have been visualizing your run and you’ve trimmed up the toenails. But you might be a bit anxious and nervous. Doubt is creeping into your psyche. You even had a nightmare that you missed the start of the race. This is perfectly normal. To ease your anxieties, calm your nerves, diminish any doubt, and get you pumped, consider the following tips and what to expect.

What to Pack

Well before the night before you travel to the race site, make a list of everything you need to bring. Check the course for “drop bag”  locations and know where the water stations will be. Put what you will wear on race day in a clear plastic Ziplock. Pack two or three pairs of running shoes and at least three pairs of socks in case the race becomes wet and muddy. Pack a rain jacket, especially if the forecast calls for rain. Arm warmers that go on and off without a wardrobe change, are a lifesaver if you start in the cool morning or run through the night. Pack a hydration bottle/belt/backpack, and a cap to protect you from the rain and the sun. You pack a second set of clothes. Some like to change sweaty running clothes after the first 25 miles.

Pack a small transparent storage container to help you or your crew easily locate the following essentials: body glide, zinc oxide, toenail clippers, tweezers, scissors, ibuprofen, Neosporin, Tiger Balm, bandages, athletic tape, athletic bandages, wipes, tissues, sunscreen, headlamp, flashlight, extra batteries, sunglasses, bug spray, lip balm, Benadryl, vitamins, and duct tape.

If the course is tricky or if you are nervous about zoning out and missing that flag on a turn, also tuck in a copy of the course and aid stations. Put it in a ziplock to keep it dry. Although the aid stations are usually stocked, pack a big cooler with water, your sport drink of choice, coconut water, fruit, and food that you want your crew to feed you throughout the 8 – 13 hour race day. One time I cut up a giant burrito for my crew to dangle in front of me each lap. Turns out it was not that appetizing and the on course broth and grilled cheese had super powers. Just eat what you can stomach. Don’t force anything unless its fluids. You won’t make it far without those.


What to Expect The Night Before The Race

  1. What to Eat – Some races offer a pasta dinner the night before for a fee. Eat what you are accustomed to eating and what works for you. You don’t need pasta! I like a giant salad with a good protein, just as I do at home.
  2. Lay Out Your Running Clothes – Shorts, running tights, top/tank, sport bra, arm warmers, socks, running shoes, jacket, rain gear, etc. If I am camping, I sleep with them on!
  3. Set Your Alarm – Set 3 alarms! Everyone staying with you should set his/her cell phone alarm.
  4. You Might Not Sleep – I can never sleep the night before an ultra. I toss and turn. I worry the alarm won’t go off and that I will oversleep. You will be ok not having a good night sleep that night prior. It is the days and weeks leading up to it where rest and sleep are crucial.

What to Expect The Morning of The Race

  1. Prepare Your Body – Smear generous amounts of body glide or sport wax around your toes, feet, nipples (guys), below your sport bra (gals), and throughout parts of your body that will chafe.
  2. Dress – Strap on your running watch or other gadget. Dress appropriately for race day weather. Again, arm warmers! If you’re running on a cold day, dress in layers. I like old socks for my hands so I can throw them away when it warms up.
  3. Consume Calories – Eat a breakfast that you know you can stomach. It might not taste good, but eat a little something. Amino Acids prior to race start is a good practice if this is something that is not new.
  4. Butterflies and Diarrhea – It’s an exciting day and you’re a tad nervous. Experiencing butterflies and diarrhea is not uncommon at the start of any race. If you can’t go to the bathroom, a little warm salt water can help, but a little nervousness usually does the trick.
  5. Pack Your Car – Don’t forget your bib number, timing chip, extra running gear, cooler, and the container with the essentials.

During The Run

  1. Start Slow – An ultra is an endurance run, not a sprint! You can’t win a 50 mile race in the first mile, but you sure can lose it!  Plan on giving yourself walk breaks! If your goal is to finish, walk early in the race and you will feel much better that last 10!
  2. Bask in Nature’s Beauty – Enjoy the sunrise, the sunset, and the bright rainbow that adorns the sky after a rainfall. Enjoy that you CAN do this… not everyone has the ability.
  3. Hydrate – Always fill your bottle at the aid stations. If you arrive with a full bottle that is a red flag that you aren’t sipping enough. Eating small amounts frequently is usually easier than a small meal. Take small bites and keep moving your feet. Be mindful to drink or consume some electrolytes and not just water.
  4. Take Care of Your Feet– If your feet get wet, it is wise to change socks or even shoes. If the blister feels small, take care of it early to avoid a major problem later on. Unless it is hurting, avoid popping a blister. The fluid in the blister is healing. I prefer to put a good amount of neosporin over the blister and cover with athletic or duct tape. I like duct because that is not coming off!
  5. You Might Bite It– If you trip over a tree root, a rock, or slip on a switchback or in a creek, dust yourself off and carry on! You will likely fall later in the race when you are fatigued and fantasizing about an ice cold beer.
  6. Carry Wipes – Depending on the course, there will be moments when the woods are the only place to go. Don’t litter and be mindful of poison ivy. And check out Tom’s wipes if you’re a little chapped!
  7. Thank The Aid Station Volunteers, Race Directors, and Your Crew – They are on their feet longer than you are!

You Are A Rare Breed May you run many more!

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D1 Hockey Champ Tessa Ward Brings Ladies’ Hockey Home This Summer!

April 3rd, 2018 by Athletic Mentors

What do the Winter Olympics, the KOHA, and Athletic Mentors have in common? They’re scoring awareness for the sport of Girls & Women’s hockey.

This summer, Division I Northeastern Husky Forward Tessa Ward will suit up to help coach Mark Olson lead Athletic Mentors’ first Ladies Dryland Summer Training Camp. The freshman and her team earned the Hockey East Championship this season before being sidelined on the way to the NCAA’s Final Four.

For Ward, growing up with a dad in the NHL (Eddie Ward) and four brothers who vied for ice time in their backyard hockey rink, playing came naturally. The basement of her childhood home is still riddled with holes in the wall from their games of competitive mini-stick. Dad was in the mix, much to her mom’s chagrin.

Ward’s older brother, Keegan, now plays for Northern Michigan University. When they were younger, watching him play inspired her.

“I was so jealous. I saw him having fun on the ice, and thought I could do it better than him…” Ward recalls. She’s played since she was four years old, entirely on boys’ teams until Bantam major level. Then she switched over to girls hockey, playing on the Lansing Spartans.

“That’s when I really realized this was something I can do and want to do at the collegiate level.”

For Ward, the dryland camp is the kind of thing she wished she would have had growing up.

“I think it would have been motivating to see girls my age working, getting stronger, growing in the game. I had to travel to play on a girls’ team. It’s great they’re building a program. I’m really looking forward to mentoring young girls.”

Ward credits in part the Team USA Women’s Olympic win this year with the surge in popularity experienced in women’s hockey. “I think it’s shown a lot of girls that hockey is a sport was can all play. It’s not just for boys anymore.”

Earlier this year, the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association teamed up with Athletic Mentors to offer 40 girls, ages 8U to 16U, an opportunity to train both on and off the ice. The program turned heads at USA Hockey.

“The excitement and buzz that is surrounding girls and women’s hockey right now is contagious,” said Emily West, USA Hockey’s ADM manager. “The staff in Kalamazoo is continuing to go above and beyond for these girls and it’s an awesome thing to see how much those girls enjoyed the event.”

That trend will continue this summer in Richland under the tutelage of Coach Mark Olson, former D1 player and national champion, and Tessa Ward. In Dryland training, Athletic Mentor’s unique blend of performance-powered mental and physical conditioning with precise skill development will help serious players ratchet up their level of play. On-Ice skills and conditioning will also be available for those who want to hone their stride strength, power and explosive stops and starts. The coaching team includes former NHL Pro Eddie Ward; pro power skating coach Stacey Barber, and new team member, Nicole Reitz. For Ward, it’s a pleasure to work alongside one of her most influential coaches.

“I’ve worked with Mark since I was ten years old. I trust him as a trainer more than anybody else. He’s honest, works hard, and keeps you working towards a goal. He’s been wonderful to me and my brothers, and has taken me to the next level as a hockey player and a person.”

She hopes she can give some of that back to the program.

“My advice to younger girls is to keep working hard. Keep your head up, and have fun playing hockey. Make a goal and stick to it and don’t let anybody tell you no. Hockey is not just for boys anymore.”

For more information about Athletic Mentors’ program, visit  Ladies Summer Dryland Camp or call 269.743.2277.

Why I Raced an Impromptu Half Marathon

March 25th, 2018 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Kaitlyn Patterson

I love empowered, passionate people. And when such people have a mission that especially resonates with me, I will likely be a long-time admirer (albeit possibly a quiet admirer).

Emily Schaller is one of the people who has won me over. Emily came to our first year medical school class last year as one of our “patient presentations.”  One of the more impactful parts of the first year of medical school, patient presentations involve volunteers dealing with chronic diseases come talk to us about the textbooks don’t tell us, namely what life is really like.  I was highly impressed with all the people who volunteer to be honest and vulnerable with 170 future-physicians, often year after year. 

Emily has cystic fibrosis, a condition that causes mucus to be thick and sticky, causing chronic lung problems as well as difficulty absorbing nutrients. It can be devastating and even with current treatments, the median life span is 41.  Emily is an exceptionally charismatic person and captivated all of us as she told her story of essentially taking back her lung function and life through running and improved nutrition. Her story is also captured in a series of short videos by BreadTruck films.

She started the Rock CF Foundation in 2007, an organization devoted to CF awareness, fundraising and advocacy in the greater Detroit area. This involves raising money to donate running shoes and race entries to people with CF through “Kicks Back” and advocating CF research, including integrating exercise as as a treatment tool.  One of the big Rock CF events is the Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon held around Grosse Ile in March.

She gave a quick plug for the race during her talk last year and it has stuck on my radar since then. I have been fortunate enough to remain injury free while running this winter and when my clinical schedule was free this weekend, I decided to go for it.  I hadn’t been specifically preparing for it but felt that my running was consistent enough that it wasn’t a stupid idea either.

Yes, it was cold enough to justify the ski suit!

This was the eighth year of the race and it has grown to thousands-strong, a testament to Emily’s efforts and the strong sense of community and purpose surrounding the foundation and the race. The event was extremely well run and it was awesome to see so many people out and excited to race on a windy, chilly day in March.


Although I’ve identified as a cyclist for years, it is always fun and a bit nostalgic for me to jump back into an open running race. With minimal fitness tests and irregular training over the winter, I had no idea what to expect. I managed to pace it pretty well and ended up 3rd in 1:25 in a strong women’s field. 

Kudos to the Rock CF Foundation and Emily for an impressive mission and great day!

Full results

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One of the best days of the year…

March 14th, 2018 by Aric Dershem

As a cyclist in Michigan, there are some monumental days on the calendar:

  1. Yankee Springs Time Trial – the opening of the MTB race season
  2. Barry-Roubaix – the largest and one of the most popular gravel road races in MI
  3. Race for the wishes – the road race that often serves as our state championship
  4. Alma GP of CX – the kick-off for cyclocrossers
  5. Iceman Cometh – the point-to-point MTB race that draws thousands of participants and a stacked pro field to Traverse City

Then there’s the day that every cyclist on a team looks forward to as much (or more) than these monuments of the Michigan cycling calendar . . . new kit arrival day! That’s right – the day that our new lycra arrives is one of the highlights of the year. This is especially true when your new kit is from Giordana.

I am anything but a professional racer, but as someone who logs between 7,000 – 8,000 miles on his bike each year, I most definitely have an appreciation for the equipment that makes my riding more comfortable and enjoyable.


Since joining Athletic Mentors cycling team, I have had the opportunity to wear Giordana gear. I anticipated the change from another brand to be difficult, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality, comfort, durability and aesthetic of our Giordana kit. When we head outside in the chilly morning in the Spring, the lined Roubaix line of bibs, jerseys and arm warmers are just right to keep me focused on my miles and not the air temperature. When the long rides of a hot summer afternoon hit, I have come to appreciate the breathability of the Scatto jerseys that allow enough ventilation to keep me feeling cool. Regardless of the weather, I most appreciate the comfort and quality of the chamois. I know, no one likes to talk about those parts, but if you are going to log serious miles, this becomes a critical contact point between cyclist and bike. I have been amazed not just at the comfort of the chamois, but the durability. With other brands, this critical component of the kit had a definite shelf life. I have yet to experience that with my Giordana chamois.

Finally, the aesthetic of the kit looks great. Whether I find myself logging some solo miles, riding in the peloton or on the those rare occasions I get to stand on a podium, I look forward to wearing my team colors in my Giordana kit. And I always look forward to new kit arrival day each spring . . .

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