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Get To Know 2022 Junior Club of the Year, Team Velosport

By: Cassie Peterinelli  March 06, 2023

USA Cycling's 2022 Junior Club of the Year, Team Velosport is consistently a strong and reliable source of support for junior racers in Irvine, California.

Check out what club owner, Jeff Shein has to say about his incredible staff, directors, athletes and volunteers that led this team to victory this year.

What sets your club apart?

    We have the most incredible staff, parents and members! Our two elite team directors—Drew Kogon and Eric Oien—put their heart and soul into the program and have generated amazing results. Our elite squad of 10-12 passionate cyclists (age 15-18) have learned to work selflessly as a team with Drew and Eric's guidance. The results in 2022 were fabulous, with a National Championship and countless wins and podiums at local, regional, national and even international events.

    At every event, Drew and Eric gather the racers for pre-race meetings to discuss strategies and planning. After the race, the group gathers for a formal post-race review. At our most recent race in Arizona, Drew used a new drone to record overhead video footage of the final moments of the race. The footage was reviewed moments afterwards to show the team what the winning moves looked like so the riders could easily visualize and learn from it.

    Those meetings, along with extensive training at quarterly 3-day team camps, have led to incredible results like winning all three Cat 2/3 criterium events in SoCal this year. The teamwork and lead out strategies are definitely working!

    More than that, there's just a feeling of a cohesive bond between all the riders. Friends on and off the bike. That extends to the parents and relatives who travel together, share their homes for hosting those team camps, participate in race day support (like helping to set up, bringing meals, doing bottle feeds, etc). We really have a blast throughout the year and at our annual beach BBQ event.

    We also have a very active club team that does beginner/intermediate rides every Saturday in Orange County. Up to a dozen riders participate in that program, which provides safe road riding skills to our newer and/or younger riders. We encourage those riders to try racing. We support them at most SoCal races with junior-specific fields. "Support" means a tent setup with a place to gather and warm up, nutrition (courtesy of one of our great sponsors GU Energy), mechanical support by an active and USA Cycling certified bike technician (yours truly!), and encouragement by coaches and parents.

    We also do an annual camp for the club team with great rides and instruction and overnight accommodations away from the "usual" Orange County rides.

    Dedicated parents support the club program and handle ride scheduling, communications about race events, and leading those weekly rides.

    We have more volunteers who handle other important tasks. Volunteers who handle administration tasks like accounting, website maintenance, membership, sponsor interaction, taxes, insurance, communications. We have an incredibly talented social media expert who maintains an instagram account that has grown to over 18,000 followers (more than some pro teams!)

    Another reason for our success and longevity are our great sponsors. Financial and product sponsors definitely help us to achieve our goals!

    We've had over 500 juniors wear a Velosport jersey since our start way back in 2008. We've taken over 60 juniors to Europe to experience international travel and racing at the top level for Juniors.

    We've also "graduated" many riders to other top national programs like Hot Tubes or LUX. That might seem strange to promote your best riders to competitor teams, but the reality is we are here primarily to develop and advance our athletes (it's not just about winning races). Those programs tend to have more exposure, better connections and larger budgets to support riders and advance them to the highest levels of the sport, including possible pro careers.

    What is your club's focus for the upcoming year?

    Our #1 goal is always to grow and advance our athletes to achieve their highest potential. But if you mean which race goal is #1, well, we would love to have a great result at Nationals in Roanoake again! We also have high hopes for success at Junior Tour of Ireland and possibly some racing in Belgium later in the season. And we will likely cap the season out at Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont.

    What advice do you have for a new club?

    1. Make it fun! Lots of rides in fun (and safe) places. Keep rides no-drop and appropriate (skill level, speed, distance) for the members. Have a fun mini challenge for each ride (like a hill climb) so everyone gets a sense of accomplishment and success.
    2. Do other fun stuff as a group, like rides in a different discipline or off the bike stuff (BBQ, pool or beach party, etc)
    3. Participate at race events as a group to make it a friendly, family atmosphere
    4. Find the best way to communicate with current members (athletes and parents). Group texts, facebook private group, email, etc. Keep it active with at least weekly notes on ride / race plans
    5. No "pressure" or stress on the athlete (especially younger ones age 10-14). Words of encouragement only!
    6. Spread the workload among the parents! Delegate tasks like sourcing jerseys, communications, sponsorship, administration, raceday support. Too many tasks will burn someone out quickly.
    7. Get financial support from a city government, local bike shop or some local businesses. Seek out some product sponsorships from the cycling industry. A bake sale or other fund raiser could work, but many people are busy and don't want to be bothered.
    8. Promote your club through social media and/or a website
    9. Hire a coach if you have athletes who are more advanced / passionate about racing (or if the athlete's skills exceed that of the parents!)
    10. Have a pathway for the future. Pass the torch of club leadership on to parents of the younger riders before your kid is ready to age-out of juniors!
    11. Follow all safety guidelines (have liability insurance, be safesport certified, follow all road rules on team rides, etc.)
    12. This is worth mentioning again... HAVE FUN! If it's not fun, it won't last.

    Stay tuned for more features on our other winners in the coming weeks!