Sweeping the podium at Superior Morgul.
Jackson Hootman, Matthew Scavuzzo, Stephen Haas
You might recall reading a bit about the Prestige Jr Elite Development Team at the beginning of the road season. 11 kids that were committed to taking their racing to the next level. I recently connected with Adam Zimmerman, (head coach) for a phone interview after Steamboat. Find out how their season went, and where these young men and women are going next.
[303 Cycling:] Give our readers a general feel for how your first season went.
Adam: Overall this inaugural season was a huge undertaking but at the same time we had such a successful season. Not only have we done well locally, but we've had success while traveling to surrounding states, the Dairy Region, and the Southwest.
[303 Cycling:] Can you elaborate on that success? (You can brag a bit here. We like it).
Adam: (laughing) Okay, then. We are currently leading BRAC in points for the 17-18 year old jr category. Locally we’ve had over 30 podiums. 36 podiums overall and over half of those were first place. We started meshing really well together about mid-season and it paid off.
[303 Cycling:] Anything beyond that local/national success?
Adam: One of our jr’s got chosen for USA cycling International Jr. Talent ID camp. He was one of only six 15-16 year olds in the country--Maxl Freman (Lakewood). He stayed at USA cycling headquarters in Sittard, Netherlands and then traveled in Europe. It was a total win-win. There he was racing, getting more motivated and motivating others. He had a wonderful experience.
Maxl Freeman riding in Eruope wearing the USA Cycling jersey.
Another one of our jr's who had major progression--came from down-hilling background--Samuel Fogel. At Bannock, he got 3rd in the 17/18's at State. To see his progression in such a short amount of time was really amazing. It was the perfect end of the season for him. He's a huge field sprinter with huge quads. And he’s never been in the weight room. ;)
[303 Cycling:] Tell us about your team. Ages, sizes, range of kids, etc.
Adam: We started with 10 kids and then had a few add-ons, bringing our final roster up to 13. The majority are 17/18. Three are 15-16. Savannah (Adams) was the only female. She just left for college to race for KU but plans on coming back to race for us in the summer. We're hoping to do a U23 team next year for those young adults who plan on sticking around. We don't want there to be a gap in their development simply because they graduate high-school.
The one thing for this team that we aimed for (and got) was a big roster. Against suggestions, We made it big. And that’s great because we get a variety of skills. More is better. You get specialties. Logistically it’s tricky. But because we had so many, we could plug in our specialties and rotate. Looking for the right sponsorships is difficult, and financially it can be tough, but then came more podiums and more exposure.
[303 Cycling:] What were your major goals of the season (aside from wins)?
Adam: Our major goal was not only to be a junior development team, but also acting as a pipe-line for future cycling endeavors. Of course we want to promote junior cycling. But for those few who want to make it a career we want to be there for them for guidance.
[303 Cycling:] Junior's cycling has sometimes gotten a bad rap regarding parental (over) involvement. How did you set the standard you wanted?
Adam: Luckily, our parental community was super supportive. All the parents were at the majority of the races. Not only helping set up the little logistical things, but also being there with support. We also have lots of support from a great team manager (Eric Short) and I wouldn't have been able to do any of this without him. The local cycling community and atmosphere outside of our team was very supportive about this junior program becoming a reality. Everyone was really helpful and shared the knowledge they had.
Savannah Adams winning Bannock.
[303 Cycling:] Cross is officially rolling. Is your team interested?
Adam: Our team is primarily road but we do have some that will race cx. Especially Maxl--he's one of our best and a few will do it for fun. My future goal is to have small pockets of riders in each discipline; a few track, mtb, cx but primarily road.
[303 Cycling:] If you had one bit of advice for someone considering taking this something like this on, what would it be?
Adam: Commitment. This would go for any cycling team. You have to be willing to sacrifice things in your own personal life and your own competition. Push for the integration into the racing scene. At the same time it also takes some will-power, luck and a generally supportive community. This could obviously vary greatly from region to region.
[303 Cycling:] Any advice for kids (or parents) who are considering this path?
Adam: There are a huge amount of jr’s programs out there. My suggestion--let’s say you’re 14. Find a program that fits the needs you are truly looking for. What kind of support will they give at races? Will there be a coach for tactical advice, a tent for warming up, off the bike events, etc. Logistics are so important. Look at the team dynamic. Are they smiling, talking with each other, looking like they get along? Just go and approach them. Talk with them. Get in touch with the team director.
Here’s the thing: Parents, no matter what sport it is, are always involved. But the trick is to give your child space to progress through the team without over-involvement. Give them space to fail and succeed within the ranks of the team without getting too involved.
Sam Fogel and Coach Adam at the track.
Let them figure out--what they like to do. Is it climbing, sprinting or an all-arounder. You might see them as a skinny kid who is a climber--but they may turn sprinter later on. I started off as a climber. I was 125 pounds when I started cycling. Later I became a sprinter. Let them enjoy the types of races they want to do. They might love climbing but if they are say, 165 pounds they will figure out where their strengths lie.
For all our Jr's we try to get them out of their comfort zone. We want them to try all the disciplines of road racing. If you're a great sprinter, but you can’t hang in there on road races, this is a problem and we can help. One of our jr’s is an amazing climber--the best in the state. He finally started enjoying crits at the end of the season.
[303 Cycling:] Looking at results, I see that your team raced within the Senior's categories as well.
Adam: Yes. We also thought this was a good move. Learning to race in the senior categories can be intimidating. We want our racers to be good people in the community outside of a jr. race or outside of racing altogether. We talked a lot about how they needed to present themselves at races, events, school, etc. It was this attitude that allowed many Senior racers to embrace our riders with open arms. From my perspective, they really acted like young ladies and gentlemen.
If you are interested in the Prestige Jr. Elite Development Team, please contact Adam Zimmerman: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the team on facebook!