For the first time in 10 years, UF’s cycling team, Team Florida, won the overall championship for Division 1 schools in the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference in Charleston, S.C., last weekend.
“I felt a lot of relief, a lot of joy, and it was fun to get up on a podium and showboat for a little bit,” joked Dustin White, president of Team Florida and a 22-year-old UF mechanical engineering senior.
Competing universities generally have rosters of about 40 students, said Neal Shepherd, vice president of the team. This year, Team Florida had 16 members competing in the conference.
“We really have to do outstanding in almost all the categories,” said Mandi Hall, a Team Florida member.
Shepherd said competing universities often have buses and stationary trainers for team members to warm up on, but because Team Florida operates on a sports club budget, it’s pressed for funds.
“We’ve taken it as a moment of pride to stick it to the varsity program,” said Shepherd, a 19-year-old UF applied physiology and kinesiology sophomore.
The conference runs on a point system, and the team with the highest total wins.
So far UF has 2,380 points for the season, White said. Hall, a 34-year-old Ph.D. candidate in the department of health and education behavior, attributed Team Florida’s overall team victory to many aspects.
“Right now, there is great leadership, great involvement and a lot of enthusiasm from avid cyclists who just love the sport,” she said.
Hall said she is excited to compete in nationals, which is the first weekend of May in Ogden, Utah.
“We’re flatlanders, and we’re going to a place where we have to compete in the mountains and there is altitude,” she said. “We come in as underdogs, but this year we have a phenomenal team of cyclists.”