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Little Bellas hopes to get girls on the trail

Nathan Baker • Jan 12, 2020 at 12:00 AM

A new outdoors program in the the city hopes to get girls interested in mountain biking.

Little Bellas, a national mentoring and biking program for girls, will hold sessions this spring at Johnson City’s Winged Deer Park. It’s one of only 42 local programs in 16 states.

Program leader Sherri Cole also coaches Science Hill High School’s mountain biking team. She decided to lead the Little Bellas because she noticed the sport was a little one-sided.

“There are a lot of boys interested, but there aren’t a lot of girls,” she said Thursday. “We hope it will really help feed our cycling community.”

The eight-week program is open to girls ages 7 to 13. Participants will ride Winged Deer’s trails and play off-bike games at the park.

Cole said no level of skill is required, and The Bike Shop on the Bristol Highway will provide bicycles and fittings to girls who need them.

The cost for the program sessions is $199, but scholarships are available.

“We don’t care where they’re from, where they go to school, what their socioeconomic background is, we just want them to come out and ride bikes with us,” Cole said. “We can make sure everybody has what they need to participate.”

With new trails at Tannery Knobs and a growing interest in outdoor recreation in the region, Cole said now is a great time to start cycling.

Little Bellas can help teach girls the skills they need for mountain biking and promote positive character traits and an active lifestyle, she said.

But the program would not have been possible without support from adult mentors.

Cole said she was overwhelmed by the flood of applications from women who wanted to help with Little Bellas. For 11 mentoring spots, 24 applied.

“This is about little girls, but it’s pulling women together, too,” she said. “We hope this will help form lifelong friendships for women and girls.”

If there’s interest in the program and it’s successful, Cole said she hopes to have Little Bellas programming in the spring and fall.

“We want to get as many girls as possible out on the trail,” she said.

For more information, including the dates and times of the spring sessions, visit littlebellas.com/camp/johnson-city-tn-weekly-program/.

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