Women in Cycling

How USA Cycling will #LeadHerForward

By: Cecilia Patten  February 05, 2020

Sports are much more than just a game or just a competition. Sports are an opportunity to learn more about yourself and develop skills that will benefit you in and out of competition. National Girls and Women in Sports Day is all about celebrating and encouraging the involvement of females in sports, so more women can emerge as leaders in sports and life. At USA Cycling, we are lucky to have so many talented and passionate women that are committed to connecting girls and women to sports. Here’s what they have to say about their experiences in sports and how they use their love for sports to enact change.

Cecilia Patten, Social Media Specialist

"As soon as I was old enough, my parents signed me up for team-sports because they believed it played a critical part in our development. I learned teamwork, leadership, confidence, and among other things, I built a sense of community. I live by these values today in everything I do.

I was a multi-sport athlete in high school and went on to play Division II lacrosse while majoring in Sport Management for my undergrad. All of these experiences drove me to understand the power of sport. Most importantly, I learned that sport has an incredible ability to connect communities that otherwise would be divided.   

USA Cycling's focus on grassroots and enthusiast cyclists, as well as elite riders, enables me to continue to empower various communities through sport. Every day I strive to make a positive difference in people's lives. If it means there are more minorities involved in cycling or we create a safer space for people to ride, I want to continue to be a voice for the voiceless."

Nancy Cowan, Executive Assistant, Office Manager & an Officer on the Board of Directors of USA Cycling

"I’ve been with this sports organization for just over 10 years. On a daily basis, I live and breathe cycling in my job. I’m passionate about athlete development, the Olympic movement, Team USA, and our objectives of providing Fun, Safe, Equitable and Measured cycling in the United States. The red, white, blue and stars on the flag really move me. Winning moves me. Motivation moves me. And I get these things by working here. Watching and supporting athletes gives me the drive to do my job, and do it well, under pressure, and with confidence and determination. Seeing the discipline our athletes have, encourages me to be the best I can be in my position. Everything I do in some small way helps our athletes and our members. Athletes and Members send me letters, cards, and sometimes a bottle of wine. I do my job for them. And I love being able to help.

Cycling for me personally gives me my own “me time” and space to think and just be. Recently I purchased an E-bike, and it gives me great pleasure on the weekends and the ability to get up Colorado hills easier. I love the freedom riding a bike gives you. I love the health & wellness aspect of the sport. I’m not a competitor, just the casual rider, but in our sport, we have all kinds of riders and that’s a good thing. To quote John F. Kennedy 'Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.'"

Kelsey Erickson, SafeSport Director

"I have been involved in sport for as long as I can remember. I was a multi-sport high school athlete and then a collegiate basketball (undergrad) and volleyball (master’s) student-athlete, and ultimately got my degrees in Sport Psychology. My involvement in sport as an athlete has evolved into my current passion for creating and cultivating a positive, safe and successful athletic experience for all. My role at USA Cycling is SafeSport Director and Anti-Doping Lead and I would define my overarching responsibility (and passion) as sporting integrity and athlete well-being.

I have always been amazed and enthralled by the way that sport can break down barriers and unite communities and people. No matter where you are from, what language you speak or what experiences you have had, we can all come together through the universal language of sport. Sports have a unique way of empowering and uniting people and my desire is for each individual who enters the sport of cycling in the USA to experience that – a sense of belonging, comradery and success."     

Lindsay Goldman, Director of Marketing & Membership

"I'm a cyclist, mother, wife, and the Director of Marketing & Membership at USA Cycling (although not necessarily in that order). Bikes have been a huge part of my life for the last 13 years; I started by riding trails, dabbled in cyclocross, switched to the road after a few years, built somewhat of a career there, and am now mixing gravel events into my race schedule. My experience in professional cycling led me to founding and running the Hagens Berman Supermint Women's Pro Cycling Team from 2016-2019, which was the most incredible experience for learning how to work with, inspire, and lead strong female athletes.

Cycling, racing, team ownership, and juggling the challenges of being an athlete with daily life obligations has shaped me into the person, mother, and leader I am today and I'm so grateful for these opportunities and learning experiences. I'm constantly surrounded by women on and off the bike who inspire and motivate me to keep going in the face of adversity, embrace my strengths and imperfections, and be fearless in pursuit of goals. I hope to inspire my daughter and other women and girls to face challenges without fear, go after what they want, and show up to rides with the confidence to crush souls with their legs and lungs."

Lauren Hall, Regional Gift Officer for USA Cycling Foundation

"Growing up I wanted nothing more than to be outside, playing football with my brothers and was always heartbroken when I asked why I couldn't play football like they do. I soon found the 'other' football - soccer and excelled. I played soccer at Mississippi State University on a full scholarship and met some of my best friends in my life in those four years.

After my soccer career was over I was a little lost in my athletic endeavors until I found cycling. Ten years of traveling the world with some of the most amazing women I've met in my life. My female, athletic, driven, confident circle grew tenfold. These are the women that motivate me, daily, to be the best person I can be. I lean on them for advice, guidance, help and any time I need help. From my female coaches in high school, to my soccer teammates and continued with my cycling family, more women in sports equals confidence, support and lifelong friendships.

I joined the USAC foundation team because I want to give to others what was given to me. I want the next generation of athletes have every opportunity to fulfill their dreams, have the exposure to the world as I had and build their confidence in life year after year."

Liz Kollar, Director of Youth & Collegiate Development

"I began my competitive cycling career in triathlon in 2001 and have been riding my bike ever since. I am a mountain biker, road biker, gravel racer and plopped my big toe into CX this last year. I am embarrassed to say I have more bikes in my garage than shoes in my closet – but hey, priorities! I love riding my bike. The sport has embraced me into its community of passionate weekend warriors, opened up a world of new adventures and given me the special gift of extraordinary people in my life. Simply put, all my best buddies, I met riding my bike!

I love my job at USA Cycling because my purpose here is to figure out ways to introduce kids to bikes and then build programs that help foster a life-long love of riding. For young riders a bike is so much more than transportation. Riding bike is the original form of social network. It empowers us to take risks and step outside our comfort zone, it builds self-confidence and community. This is particularly important for young girls and I am proud of what we are doing as an organization to build a more welcoming environment for riders of all ages, genders, levels and abilities."

Angelina Palermo, Marketing Content Specialist

"When I was younger, I always thought it would be cool to work with bikes, and why not work at the country’s cycling headquarters. What once seemed to be an unattainable long-term goal, turned into moving across the country by myself, a year after college graduation, for my first day of work at my dream job. Now I have the opportunity to tell the stories of the inspirational people I have met growing up, as well as the many more that I will continue to meet along the way.

I started racing cross-country mountain bikes at a young age and was part of the Kate Courtney generation of racing. It’s so inspiring to see all that she’s accomplished in the sport and the impact she has made on the community, showing us what is possible and what is still to come. I later gravitated toward downhill mountain biking, racing professionally in college. With noticeably less woman than men, it made woman want to see change more than ever. There was always prize money and results on the line, but we all wanted to grow the sport and help one another. We would ride together in practices, encourage each other to take new lines, and aim to boost confidence, no matter the level of racer or competition. To this day, all of the people I have met through cycling, even my biggest competitors, have become my life-long friends."

Mari Holden, Women’s Road Coach

"Why I am proud to be working at USA Cycling? I’m here because representing my country at the Olympic Games was one of the proudest moments in my life. It was something I dreamed about and struggled to accomplish from the time I was first inspired by watching the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. I didn’t know it at the time, but 1984 was the first-time women were allowed to compete in Cycling at the Olympics. My goal at USA Cycling is to continue to pursue excellence, equality and inclusion for women in our sport. If in 2028 when the Olympic Games return to LA the women standing on the podium have been treated with fairness and equality in our sport I will be proud to know that I played a small part in making that happen. But, at the end of the day, I love riding my bike and I want more girls on bikes!"

History of the Celebration from Women's Sports Foundation

"The Women’s Sports Foundation was established in 1974 to advance the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity. February 5, 2020, marks the 34th Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). This celebration inspires girls and women to play and be active, to realize their full power. The confidence, strength and character gained through sports participation are the very tools girls and women need to become strong leaders in sports and life."