U Create Macon student-athletes win national awards

U Create Macon student-athletes win national awards

When the National Interscholastic Cycling Association announced its annual awards on March 15, the U Create Macon team had reason to be proud. Actually, two reasons!

Richone Jackson won the Specialized Student-Athlete Leadership Award and Jaddarious Taylor received the GU Energy Extraordinary Courage Award. The awardees are members of the U Create Macon Bike Team and the Middle Georgia Composite Team, and are the only Georgians to bring home NICA awards.

“Richone and Jaddarrious were in disbelief that they won national awards. And when I told them there was a pool of over 25,000 students nationally, one of them got emotional,” said Charise Stephens, executive director of U Create Macon.

She jokingly said she can’t reveal which one, or else they may not speak to her again.

The NICA Awards are presented across eleven categories to individuals who have been nominated by their peers as the most outstanding student-athletes, dedicated coaches, and most supportive volunteers and sponsors that have contributed to the youth cycling movement during the past year.

Stephens said her students’ achievements have had an effect on their peers. 

 

“The announcement of the awards really inspired our kids,” she said. “Some of the U Create Macon kids in our program have never gotten an award and to see their teammates getting a national award inspired them.”

 

And it wasn’t just the students who have been heartened by their success.  

 

“To be quite honest, this award inspired the adults. We have come a long way from a club with borrowed bikes, to a team receiving national awards. I would have never thought it a million years that four people — Coach Lisa, Coach Janet, Ms. Gigi, and myself — could change our community like this,” she said. “These last two years have been magical.”

 

As news spread of the awards, interest in Stephens’ programs increased almost immediately.

 

“Since the announcement of the awards, we have gotten seven calls from parents wanting their kids to participate in our program. This momentum will be helpful as we are growing into We Bike GA chapters throughout Georgia,” she said. “Our goal is to continue to have more smiles by the mile and give every kid — no matter their financial situation — outdoor adventures.”

 

NICA President Steve Matous said, “The 2020 NICA Award recipients exemplify our mission of building strong minds, bodies, character and communities through interscholastic cycling. Even during a year when activities were restricted due to the pandemic, our student-athletes, coaches, volunteers and community found new and innovative ways to embrace our values and continue to bring NICA’s mission to our community. Through their involvement and contributions to their leagues, teams and the broader NICA community, each recipient has made a unique and profound impact.”

 

Similarly, Stephens said the U Create Macon students did not let the pandemic lessen their determination or dampen their creativity.

 

“Our goal with U Create Macon is for youths to ‘create’ their own future and this national NICA award shows that anything is possible,” she said. Our kids are dreaming bigger each day because of their love for cycling. It’s opening up a new world to them and our community will benefit from this for generations to come. Even with a global pandemic, our bike teams never stopped and our kids have flourished during these uncertain times.”

 

U Create’s success is truly the result of a team effort involving more than 20 volunteer coaches along with a dedicated group of SAG/general volunteers who support the mountain biking and road cycling programs year round.    

 

“Our volunteers have donated over 10,000 hours to the success of this program and their love shows in the accomplishments of our kids,” Stephens said. “It shows in their smiles.” 

 

While Stephens is proud of the recent awards, she said they are just getting started.

 

“So far our organization can say that we have NICA national winners, Positive Athlete regional winners, and our own awards ‘Middle Georgia Loves Bikes’ award for our students. We are looking forward to bringing more awards to Georgia,” she said.

 

Mid GA Bike Love Awards

Come join us for our end of the year celebration of youth biking in Middle Georgia. 2020 has been a transformative year and we want to share the “bike love” to all our supporters. The event is a $10 suggested donation but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. If you want to become a sponsor before the event, email ucreatemacon@gmail.com for more information.

Youth Cycle Breakers

Come join us for our last National Bike Month Event! The youths of the U Create Macon Bike Teams will be front and center as they tell you why they love biking. This webinar is family friendly and no charge. The youths will be taking live questions and there is a limited of 100 audience members so rsvp asap.

For more information email us at ucreatemacon@gmail.com

Bike Month Advocacy Organization Profile: U Create Macon Bike Team

Throughout May we are celebrating National Bike Month 2020 by sharing information on bicycle advocacy organizations around the state that are working to improve conditions for people who ride bikes in their communities. We’ll learn more about the cities they serve, their missions and goals, and how they are adapting their efforts during the pandemic. To learn more about bicycle advocacy groups in Georgia, visit our directory.

Bike Month Advocacy Organization Profile: U Create Macon Bike Teams

Tell us about your organization, your mission, and your community. 

The U Create Macon Bike Team is a very unique program. U Create Macon houses several cycling programs that maximize our opportunities to give our youth the best opportunity to have outdoor adventures. We are the only youth chapter of the Major Taylor Association (Major Taylor  – Middle Georgia Chapter), The Middle Georgia Composite Team (Mountain Biking), Trips for Kids (Trips for Kids Middle Georgia), soon we will be a Free Bikes for Kids program (Summer 2020). We are looking at bringing Little Bellas by 2021. Our goal is to continue to cultivate a relationship with US Cycling and Velodrome organizations to round out our programs.

Before the pandemic, what were your major goals, events, or initiatives for 2020?

Our major goal is to get more kids on bikes. Our strategic plan for 2020 is to have more kids on bikes (safely as possible) in the history of Macon and Middle Georgia. COVID-19 has changed our approach but the mission is still the same. We use the Georgia Bikes pocket guides and our Bike Rodeo with Georgia Bikes and OCMA Dream Team was the largest ever in Middle Georgia. It was a catalyst for our program. Without that youth bike rodeo, there would be no program like we have today. 
 

How have you adapted your plans to continue amid the pandemic?

We have incorporated more virtual opportunities and because so many races have been canceled, we are creating some local outdoor adventures. Working with Dublin OCMA Dream Team, Coach Chris is spearheading a youth-only, six-day event. We are grateful to our U Create Macon core adult volunteers — Coach Lisa Doughtery, Coach Janet Grier, Coach Sam Macfie, Coach Tommy Neaves, Coach Fred Simonelli, Coach Brian Robertson, Coach Diane Fowler, Coach Nathan Robertson, Coach Wesley Altram, Coach Chris Johnson, Coach Daylon Martin, Coach Tom Glover, Coach “in training” Michael Robinson, Victor Chatfield and Ms. Gigi Weaver — for keeping our programs moving forward.
 

How has your community changed during the pandemic? Do you see more people biking, walking, and rolling for recreation and transportation? 

COVID-19 has changed our community forever but I do see more people walking, biking, and practicing self-care. Macon has a high number of preventable diseases (obesity, diabetes, etc.) and we are hoping that U Create Macon can be a community partner to help our community get healthier. Our program is award winning. We just won the Safe Routes to School Friend Partner of the Year for the East/Central Georgia region.
 
 
 

Charise Stephens, U Create Macon Founder 

For more information visit the U Create Macon Bike Team Facebook Page or contact them via email