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CPASS graduate expands statewide cycling league

Cassie Smith, league director for the West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League, is using sport to jumpstart the road to a long, healthy life for West Virginia teens.

Smith, from Aldie, Va., is a 1993 graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in physical education. As a passionate mountain biker for the last 25 years, Smith works to engage youth in cycling throughout the state of West Virginia.

The WVICL continues to progress, while acquiring new student-athletes during the 2019 campaign. According to Smith, the league doubled in size from the previous season and provided scholarships to every athlete who was in need.

Furthermore, the league has seen more parents on bikes, who are becoming increasingly active within the program. “I want to show our athletes that they can become lifelong cyclists and what a positive impact cycling can have on their lives,” said Smith.

During her undergraduate years in CPASS, Smith credits former CPASS faculty member Robert Wiegand as a major influence on her studies and overall performance. “He was a great role model and taught me that dreams can be achieved through persistence and commitment,” Smith said.

Kristen Dieffenbach, associate professor, coaching and performance science, has played a major role in the advancement of the WVICL. Dieffenbach has guided Smith since the launch of the organization. Additionally, Dieffenbach encourages her doctoral students to volunteer at races and helps with presentations at the Leaders’ Summit. Dieffenbach is credited with helping plan the annual WVICL Conference and providing excellent knowledge and support to WVICL coaches.

Now entering its third season, the WVICL teams are mostly composites. The league hopes to become more integrated into schools. There were 13 teams located throughout the state of West Virginia in 2019. Smith anticipates that number to increase to at least 17 for the upcoming season.

WVICL is a chapter of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). WVICL’s mission is to build strong bodies, minds and character through mountain biking.