Berkeley High School (BHS) offers many non-traditional sports. The BHS mountain biking team (BHS MTB) has been consistently popular among every graduating class since its creation in 1998. BHS was the first public high school in the country to offer a mountain biking team to students, and it continues to be a dominating team on the west coast. The team was created by BHS math teacher, Matt Fritzinger, who continued to be the head coach until his departure from BHS. At the time, the only MTB races that youth could compete in were the youth sections of adult races, but in 2001, Fritzinger created the NorCal High School Cycling League. Since its creation, the cycling league has gained over fifty participating schools.
Fritzinger proceeded to create the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), which now is the standard mountain biking league for schools in America. He worked to progress NICA across the country until his departure from the organization in 2013. Since then, mountain biking has grown drastically, with hundreds of high school teams across the country participating in NICA’s races. BHS MTB currently has upwards of ninety members across all grades.
Unfortunately, because it is a club sport, BHS MTB doesn’t get the same type of school funding that bigger sports like football or basketball get. One would think that being a part of this club would be wildly expensive because of gear costs. However, BHS MTB does an immaculate job fundraising, so the cost of participating for some students can be nearly zero dollars.
BHS sophomore, Ulysses Noe, said: “The grants are a huge part of why so many people are able to love mountain biking. There wouldn’t be half as many people on the team if you had to buy your own bike. It takes a huge burden off your family, and that way all sorts of people can enjoy the sport together.” Because of Fritzinger and other coaches across the country, it is predicted that by 2020 there will be more than twenty thousand student participants in this up-and-coming sport.