Should My Novice Join a Team?

October 16, 2018 by  

Should My Novice BMX Racer Join a Team
This is a reader letter, in verbal form, as a parent asked News at a recent local race if her fresh-out-of-League Novice should join a team.

“More than a few local teams have asked my son to join their team. What do you think about that?”

The following is a (much) longer version of what I told this freshly-minted BMX Mom about the topic.

Let me first say that teams in BMX Racing are among the best part of our sport. Joining the fold of a track or local team gives riders an unequaled sense of camaraderie and a group to hang out with, usually with the Team Manager and more experienced riders coaching-up the newer and/or younger riders.

That said, the goals of track and local teams are as varied as the number of teams, themselves.

Some are strictly “all about the fun,” committed to racing locally, and bringing everyone together at the local track each week, to have a shared experience.

Others are more “serious” in their approach, and want team families to travel to state races, Gold Cup (regional) races, and near-by nationals.

Those are two very-different scenarios. Both types of teams can be great for your rider and your family, but only if the “fit” is right. If the team is expecting one thing, and you are expecting another, it sets the table for frustration and, perhaps, hard feelings on one side or another.

In this article, we hope to help families ask the right questions, so everyone understands, going in, the expectations of the other.

Before we set-out those questions: let’s talk some brief definitions of locally-oriented teams:

The “Privateer”
A rider who is not on a team. Being a privateer does not necessarily mean you’re all on your own. You will always find friends at the track similarly-situated. In fact, most “Track Teams” are born from groups of “Privateer” families wanting to group together, in a more-formal construct. And that’s a beautiful thing.

The “Track Team”

The North Bay BMX "dReam Team" is a BMX Racing Track Team

Donny Robinson’s “dReam Team” is a BMX Racing Track Team at North Bay BMX in Napa, CA.

A Track Team is generally made-up of riders who race primarily at that-one track and, on off-days of their track, may travel a short-distance to other tracks. A Track Team generally does not abandon their track if a big race is happening nearby–or, at the very least–does not require or encourage team members to do so. Families are free to do as they please, without expectation or pressure.

The “Local Team”
It’s subtle, but there is a big difference between a Track Team and a Local Team. A Local Team welcomes Novice riders to their ranks, but may place certain expectations on team members. Those expectations may be a requirement to purchase a specific uniform, bike/frame and other team co-sponsor products. Local Teams also may encourage/require you to attend certain “team” races (State, Regional, Nationals and/or Grands).

That’s not bad, in and of itself, but if your current sensibilities are to “keep it fun,” a Local Team could be a bad fit for your family.

Now, six good questions to ask when joining a Track/Local Team:

* What is the “investment” to join the team? (Usually, it will be the purchase of a jersey, maybe matching pants–typically $100-$150, if it is both jersey and pants).

* Does the team have any expectations or timeline for our rider to progress to Intermediate, then Expert?

* What are the team’s expectations for us, in terms of traveling to races beyond the local track?

* In order to be part of the team, what products will we be expected to buy? If any, what is the approximate cost of that?

* Does the team provide any “team-only” training or coaching? (Not necessarily a deal-breaker if not, but helpful for you to know).

* What is the team’s commitment to the local track?”

You will likely have additional questions, and that is great. You SHOULD be asking probing questions of your prospective Team Manager. If it will be a good fit, the Team Manager will address your questions with respect.

We know that you will find whatever BMX Racing structure fits best for your family. The most-important thing to remember is that, stripping-away the team stuff, BMX Racing is a great activity for your family, and y’all need to keep doing it–even if that means running a League jersey and jeans, well into your time in “Open Racing.”

—Mike Carruth

Photo Credits:
Top Photo: via Troy Lee Designs
dReam Team Photo via Facebook