Local mountain biking group looks to grow the sport in Mississippi

The East Mississippi Scorpions are a mountain biking team in Mississippi's new NICA League, and are looking to grow the sport in the Magnolia State.
Published: Oct. 22, 2023 at 9:33 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The East Mississippi Scorpions held a free event at Bonita Lakes Park Sunday afternoon for teenagers in grades six through 12 to learn the basics of mountain biking.

The Scorpions are a mountain biking team who are trying to grow the sport in the state of Mississippi.

“Cycling is not an easy sport at all. That’s why a lot of people don’t get into it,” said Scorpions’ head coach, Ryan Whitaker. “Its tough, it challenges you mentally, it challenges you physically, and there’s a lot of life lessons that can be learned through cycling. That’s the intention of our team... to teach kids life lessons on how to persevere, how to over come obstacles, how to be a part of a team, how to work together and how to support each other.”

Whitaker and his team hosted a group of several people today to teach them proper technique and safety tips. They set up a cone drill, gave live examples, and all rode through Bonita Lakes Park together for practice.

The Scorpions are apart of the new Mississippi National Interscholastic Cycling League (NICA). There are currently five other teams around the state in the NICA League as well.

Mountain biking is not as popular in the southern states as it is in the Midwest and in the Western US, but hosting “try it out” events, like the Scorpions did today, grow the popularity of the sport and the numbers are rising here in the Magnolia State.

The Rankin County Mountain Biking team also hosted a “try it out” event of their own today, doing their part to grow the sport state-wide.

“From what I’ve seen so far, my mind is blown, I’m almost speechless. We can’t believe that we have the turnout that we have today,” said Whitaker. “It makes me very very happy to see the state of Mississippi and our communities coming together and bringing a new sport like mountain biking to the state.”