Twin Valley MTB Gains School Acceptance

The following is written by Sylvia Deye’, Coach of the Twin Valley MTB Team about their journey to gain school acceptance. We encourage all our teams to seek school acknowledgement as mountain biking gains recognition as an interscholastic sport here in Pennsylvania. 

On January 16, 2017 – Twin Valley MTB became a partially sanctioned sport by the Twin Valley School District for both HS and MS.


Persistence, knowledge and open communication is the key to school acceptance…

Twin Valley overcame one hurdle at a time.

The first hurdle was during the spring of 2016 right before the first coaches summit meeting.

Mickey Rusden and his daughter Nicky approached the school Athletic Director and the school board requesting if the school district would allow the mountain biking club to represent the school and be able to use the school name.

It was made quite clear that the name could be used but sanctioning was another chapter.

Our approach – we understood that this was a new sport for the school district and one that needed to prove itself before we could ask for more support.0013-_MG_5030

The next hurdle – recruiting students and getting the word out. We approached everything from a marketing stand point – the more everyone heard about the team, the sport, and the events, the more we could get everyone excited and on board,the better chance we would have becoming a sanctioned school sport.

We focused on the Facebook page – sharing it and keeping it filled with lots of new and fun facts and info and each of the races events.

We connected with the Girl Scout Service Unit and joined in on “an everything wheels” day setting up a table with information and forms of interest so we could get contact info. The more emails we could gather the more information we could get out to the public.  Our lottery ticket was pro mountain biker Kerry Werner – a Twin Valley Alumni – who just happened to be in town – we asked him if he would spend the day with us at the school at a recruitment table during lunch – he said of course.  This was our free pass into the school – they could not say no to an Alumni that has gone pro!  The school allowed us to set up a table in the cafeteria during each lunch period and they allowed us to play the NICA DVD, Single Track High, about the sport on the closed circuit TVs in the cafeteria.  More emails…

20161106-1832-vmcWe focused on the team and posting on our team Facebook and personal pages for the rest of the race season.  We invited the school board and Athletic Director to our end of the year party and told them in the invite how great our first season was along with a few highlights, included a team photo, and the list of sponsors. Nobody from the school board came…but that was ok – we got the word out and they knew we were here to stay.

New hurdle – back to the school to get “Sanctioned”  – this is in quotes because we didn’t really know what getting sanctioned meant – we thought it was the same as our swim, lacrosse and wrestling teams – they are all sanctioned sports by the school but they are club sponsored – They do not have school paid coaches or funded school equipment.  Hey we thought – that’s us – that’s what we want!

20161106-2030-vmcWe had a great season and we felt the kids accomplishments should be announced in the morning school announcements and on the athletic dept. twitter feed like all the other sports.  So we contacted the front desk of the HS and MS requesting the announcements and were meet with a firm “No” – the Athletic Director was a wall – never explained what the problem was – just said no. Then one of the Admin staff informed us that we are not a PIAA sport and cannot be granted sanctioning – OHHHH – light bulb! We contacted PIAA and asked them about the sport – their response was – if 5 schools in PA sanction the sport and the Athletic Director from those schools requests PIAA sanctioning – then they would consider it.  Ok – forget that path – let’s just focus on the school board.

Two emails and one board meeting all in January 2017 and the final hurdle was cleared.  At the Senior recognition board meeting our entire team showed up in their race jerseys to show support for our two seniors.

Email to the School board to be placed on the agenda for the committee working meeting:

 Greetings Twin Valley School Board and (Athletic Director).

 First, the Twin Valley Mountain Biking Team would like to say thank you for allowing the Team to represent the Twin Valley School District during this past fall inaugural season.

 With the new year upon us, the Twin Valley Mountain Biking Team would like to present our organization to you and request the opportunity to begin the discussions of becoming sanctioned by the School District on some level.

 TVMBT is a 100% non-profit, self-funded club, insured on a local and national level.  All coaches and parent volunteers have all required background clearances as required by the State of PA and the National NICA organization. The TVMBT would like to request the same sponsorship agreement from the school district as the swim team, lacrosse and the high school wrestling team.

 The Twin Valley Mountain Biking Team had an amazing first year with the largest School team in the State of Pennsylvania and placing 4th overall out of 21 teams. Our Girls Team was the largest girls team with the most podiums.  

 We very much appreciate your time and understanding and request if we can be placed on the coming agenda January 9th for a brief introduction and direction of how we shall proceed for the following board meeting January 16th to answer any questions you may have.

 Happy New Year!

(attached team Photo)

Follow-up Email to the School Board after the working committee meeting:

 Good Afternoon Twin Valley 

 Thank you on behalf of the Twin Valley Mountain Biking Team for taking the time out of your schedule and your interest in understanding and embracing the TVMBT.

 As presented and discussed on January 9th

Due to the standing regarding PIAA – TVMBT is not requesting full sanction of the sport as compared to the Swim team, lacrosse and wrestling.

Instead, we are looking for similar support and acknowledgment of the students efforts while representing the School District similar to the Twin Valley Ice Hockey team.

 We are specifically looking for, but not limited to the following:

  1. Acknowledgment of our seniors
  2. Year book photo and names for High School and Middle School – 6th grade – 12th
  3. Sports awards event
  4. School announcements of individual and team success.

For this year – we would like to see 

  1. Nicole Rusden – recognized by the board and in the year book as the female Varsity Champion in the State of PA for the Inaugural season.
  2. Stefan Zangari recognized as this year’s Senior rider.

 Moving forward, please let us know what documents and information you need from us and who I shall send photos and names to for the year book.

Feel free to call me if you have any additional questions.

 Thank you


Sylvia Deye’, the Coaches and riders of the TVMBT

The results:

  • Acknowledgment of two seniors at the Feb. 21st School Board Meeting
  • Next years’ seniors will be recognized at the 2017 Fall Sports Ceremony
  • Both the HS & MS yearbook advisors will be contacted to add the Mountain Biking Team to the yearbook. 
  • The HS Mountain Biking Team will be added to the 2017 Fall Sports Ceremony. The head coach will have 5-10 minutes on stage to recognize the team.
  • The students on the Mountain Biking Team will be able to be added to the morning announcements.
  • Nicole Rusden – recognized by the board and in the year book as the female Varsity Champion in the State of PA for the Inaugural season.
  • Stefan Zangari recognized as this year’s Senior rider.