2013 Collegiate Club Membership Contest Winners Announced!


USA Cycling is pleased to congratulate our Collegiate Membership Contest Winners for 2013, and announce this spring's new membership contest:

  • Established Team with the Most Growth in 2013: University of Arizona, with 20 more members than 2012

  • Biggest New Team for 2013: University of Texas at Dallas, with 17 members

The final totals for 2013 can be found here. The winning teams each received a hefty supply of Gatorade products and new for this year’s contest, cases of Bonk Breaker energy bars!

Bonk Breaker Logo 2

But fear not, there is one more contest this spring for your team to win, too! The first team to surpass their 2013 membership by 15 will win, the prize is still to be determined. (This contest does not apply to new clubs.)

But there's more in this for the sport than just Gatorade and Bonk Breakers bars for your team. Collegiate cycling has a lot to gain from increased participation, namely better competition, more financial support for the conferences and your racing experience, and a better support structure for the sport as a whole. On top of that, the bigger your team is, the more legacy it will have and the more likely it is to survive for years beyond your graduation.

Think about it another way. What if there were twice as many collegiate cyclists out there as we have now? Then we could potentially look at breaking some conferences into more, smaller conferences, to decrease driving distances for teams and help grow the sport even further. There are a multitude of benefits like this when the sport grows, but we need you to make it happen.

So how can you recruit new members to grow the sport we all love, and win your team some Gatorade and Bonk Breaker energy bars, too? We interviewed both the University of Arizona and the University of Texas at Dallas to find out.

Most Growth in 2013: University of Arizona, 20 more members than 2012

Interview with Benjamin Elias- Club President, and Joey Iuliano- Club Vice President

University of Arizona Group Ride

How did you grow the team this year? What kind of recruiting techniques did you use?
In January 2013, we had all new officers and our initial thought was, "We should have the largest team in the country." Tucson is the winter training capital of the world (http://www.visittucson.org/about/winter-training-capital/) and we knew students were choosing the University of Arizona, in part, because of the fantastic riding and weather. Our goal was to get out off the sidelines and into the spotlight. To do so, we reserved some space the first three days of each semester in the center of campus and set up a table, tent, and some trainers. Each day for several hours we'd have members riding trainers or rollers to get attention and we just talked to anyone who stopped by or walked by with a bike. We also made sure to have a variety of bikes present since we do more than just road. Our club roster went from 15 to 52 this fall, with 40 USAC licenses by the end of the year.
What is your membership like (male/female, mtb/road, beginner/advanced, etc.)?
We've been very pleased by the diversity our club has now! We have 15 women on the team now and hopefully we'll get over 20 in the spring. We're very committed to women's cycling and support the Women's Cycling Association of Arizona and give equal race time and payout to women's fields in our races. In terms of disciplines, we are predominately a road team. However, we have about 15 riders who mountain bike, including the SWCCC omnium champion, and 5 cyclocross riders. We have several who are interested in track but not having one in Arizona is a hindrance. We're working on getting into BMX as well. We're also pretty evenly split in terms of beginners and advanced riders. Our advanced riders lead our daily group rides and try to teach the beginners new skills.
What advice would you give to other student run teams for growing their membership?
Our best advice is to be visible! Hold your recruitment tent or table at the busiest spot on campus, generally by the student union, and have trainers and rollers to make noise and get attention. Nothing generates attention like someone riding a set of rollers! Also, have group rides meet at a central part of campus so people walking by can see. We had several kids stop by on their ride to class when they saw our group and ask about joining. We also went out and left small fliers on parked bicycles at racks with our club meeting information and website. You just have to be friendly and outgoing, just start by talking to everyone who owns a bike!
What do you see for the future of the team? How can you make this growth sustainable?
Our plan is to become the first varsity team at a major institution by 2016. We know we can attract great riders because of the opportunities Tucson offers and they can get an education at a world class university. For 2014, we plan on recruiting more women and focusing more on increasing participation in CX, BMX and Track disciplines. Maintaining a presence at Nationals is another important goal, we were proud to make it out again to Collegiate Road Nationals and we're sending three riders to Cyclocross Nationals in Boulder, which is a first for us. To sustain the growth, we're planning more campus activities, more community volunteering, and a larger media presence. Geographically, Tucson has given us the resources to have the largest and best team in the nation and it’s our task to put these resources to work with the help of our community, members and alumni.

Biggest New Team in 2013: University of Texas at Dallas, 17 members

Interview with Zack Sutton- Club President

UTD cycling team

What instigated the formation of the team? Who was behind it and what did it take to make it happen?

I would say that the team was formed more out of "need" than "want". With ample cycling resources in north Dallas from miles of paths and trails to dozens of group rides on the weekends, it's an ideal location for a developing collegiate club like ourselves. I myself had been racing collegiately for a few years before arriving at UTD, but met our current Vice President and U23 racer through our athletics department as he additionally had expressed interest in creating a club. With little debate and a first meeting under our belt, we were able to focus on recruiting members and establish a timeline for goals we wanted for the club. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have the support of Jim Hoyt and the Richardson Bike Mart team in addition to our sponsor Zevlin cycling products, but it was most certainly a group effort between our club, our sponsors, and our diligent sport club director Chris McAlpine that were able to make this dream a reality.

How did you grow it so quickly? What kind of recruiting techniques did you use? What is your membership like?

Club growth was a complete task within itself! As a biology major, I had little experience with marketing and branding in the past, but had a few crazy ideas to implement that ended up working in our favor! I vividly remember the first meeting with soggy fruit salad I brought and an over-rehearsed PowerPoint, only to give the spiel to four times as many people as I had projected. I'm not sure what's in the water here in Richardson, but I knew from that point that the club was not going to be a fluke. I quickly learned that #1. You can't make everyone happy #2. Word of mouth is the most powerful recruiting tool and #3. A collegiate club needs tangible items (Bear with me here). The first meeting we had everyone from unicyclists to triathletes and Cat 1's to Cat lovers. We made a command decision from that point to focus on the road, mountain, and triathlon disciplines until we felt we had ample resources to expand. Word of mouth I quickly realized was worth more than the weight of flyers in gold. Focusing on creating value for our members was a top priority and word soon got out that our club wasn't just a clique of racers who train 30 hours a week. We soon had exposure to a majority of the student body and were able to tailor our club towards our three disciplines in both a racing and leisure aspect. The third point of having a tangible aspect of the club was where we decided to take a gamble. We began an incentive program that year that worked to the club's favor and improved overall member fitness, but having additional items that members can wear, carry around, and talk about only increased our presence around campus. This came at both a financial cost and substantial effort to cut through the red tape of licensing, but nothing good ever comes easy. We continue to branch out throughout different mediums to expand our presence on campus and in the community, but our efforts have worked out well for the club thus far. Membership is currently at 17 USAC Collegiate licenses, but a number of our members are unlicensed and enjoy the casual aspect of the club. It may be a few more years before we have a trials unicycling team though!

What do you see for the future of the team? How can you make this growth sustainable?

As for the future of the team, I'm not only planning an increase membership numbers throughout the next few years, but allowing our current members a greater number of opportunities to become involved with racing and bicycle advocacy. Our focus of the club in this first year was not the importance of winning races, but the focus on having fun and the camaraderie of cycling. The first year can prove to be shaky when trying to retain membership, yet push to be the example of the conference. We took this upon ourselves to give back not only through volunteering for events to assist with, but through bicycle safety talks with local elementary schools and providing tune-ups for commuters and students on campus. This not only builds upon our reputation that we have created, but will keep compounding throughout the years to come as we maintain our efforts. Fundraising was crucial this first year and with the aid of our sponsors, we were able to budget team water bottles, two team road bikes, one team mountain bike, team racing and leisure apparel, and a plethora of marketing materials for next year. I believe that providing value to our members will lead to the growth that we desire, but ultimately look forward to recruiting cyclists to consider The University of Texas at Dallas for more than it's cycling program.

I love collegiate cycling and I hope to see this continuous growth over the coming years, but if you are unsure of starting a club or would ever like a second opinion, feel free to e-mail myself at UTDCycling@gmail.com, as I am more than willing to assist with questions.

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