BizVoice July/August 2014 - page 48

BizVoice/Indiana Chamber – July/August 2014
Picture a sports fan bellying up to a bar, only to be
challenged by this stumper: “What Indiana university
sports team boasts 26 national championships since
It’s most unlikely the patron would come up with the correct
answer: the Marian University cycling team. Yet through years of
perseverance and growth, the Knights are among the nation’s leading
cycling programs and compete in many disciplines, including track,
road, mountain biking, cyclo-cross and BMX.
“Some of it’s based on geography, but there are so many
interesting ways to create teams,” reveals head coach Dean Peterson,
who’s been at the helm for eight years. “It’s still an emerging sport.”
Peterson notes that there are 4,700 licensed collegiate riders and over
300 teams and clubs. Marian races at the Division I level and competes
with top cycling schools, including other small institutions that carry big
weight in the cycling world: Lees-McRae College (North Carolina); Fort
Lewis College (Colorado); Midwestern State (Texas); Lindenwood University
(Missouri) and Lindsey Wilson College (Kentucky), among others.
Free wheelin’
Peterson explains there’s a “grassroots” ability to build a team, as
the sport is governed by USA Cycling – not the National Collegiate
Athletic Association (NCAA) or National Association of Intercollegiate
Athletics (NAIA), as some might assume.
“We don’t have a very thick book like the NCAA,” he explains,
adding that graduate students can ride. “You just have to be a full-time
student, and in good social and academic standing with the school, and
compete in conference racing to be eligible for the national championships.”
Marian possesses a unique asset in the Major Taylor Velodrome
and Indy Cycloplex, which the school operates (and Peterson leads as
executive director) via a recent agreement with the city. He cites the
facility as a blessing for the program and the community – and a
recruiting tool for the team. Peterson adds that the cycling team’s
success helps Marian attract more students, many of whom hail from
far beyond county or state borders.
“We have riders from Ecuador, England, Germany, and about 15
different states are represented,” he quantifies. Peterson anticipates the
team will feature over 60 riders next year, growing from just eight
participants in 2006.
“Women’s and men’s scores go together for nationals and
conference racing. They race separately, but there’s not a men’s and
women’s national title. So you have to be built on both sides – and
that’s a great way to encourage and build female cycling, which is
volume-wise a much smaller group. A lot of what collegiate cycling
was started as – and still is – is around development of cyclists in the
country. It’s one of the best pathways they have in getting new riders
in and making it a fun, team-oriented experience.”
Business of building a winner
Marian cycling also partners with Indiana businesses that support
the team (and the Indy Cycloplex), including world-class bike
component company Zipp Speed Weaponry/SRAM, Ratio Architects,
LincLogix, TruTrainer, Nuvo, Klipsch, St. Vincent Sports Performance
and many more. In fact, the school’s PowerBooster program also helps fund
the team by offering students and the public a premier indoor cycling
studio featuring Computrainer units that provide a rigorous training
system for cyclists.
Peterson offers his gratitude for local businesses and “community
connectors” who have aided his team’s development and the state of
cycling in Central Indiana.
That growth – along with the entrepreneurial impact of
PowerBooster and the fact that the team utilizes an advisory board –
illustrates Marian’s creative approach to building a winning program.
Yet cycling at Marian is far more than just an athletic undertaking,
and the school’s approach would hardly be confused with that of some
major college sports that often serve as feeder systems for professional
“Scholarships here are packaged, so it’s not just cycling. It’s an athletic
and academic kind of thing,” Peterson clarifies. “We look for high-
achieving students and people who have a desire to race bikes or have a
proven history. But the classroom performance is the most important.”
He adds that team members have gone on to work in different
aspects of the cycling profession and interned at local businesses that
support the team (like Zipp). Many team members study sports
performance, biology and science-based curriculum while at school.
According to Peterson, success is no accident and building a
championship quality program requires a great deal of work and
fortitude by Marian’s coaches and riders. Formerly a teacher who
owned his own coaching business, Peterson himself has sacrificed to
focus full time on the program as it competes 25 to 30 weekends per
year – and on managing the Indy Cycloplex.
“It takes more than money. It takes time, commitment, a will and
leaning into discomfort and the challenges that can occur with young
people who are sorting out life. But it has deep intrinsic value to me
and the people we have working here.”
Dean Peterson, Marian University, at
Marian Cycling Sets Course for Champions
Marian University has reached the pinnacle of collegiate cycling by
developing champions in all disciplines of the sport.
OFC...,38,39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46,47 49,50,51,52,53,54,55,56,57,58,...OBC
Powered by FlippingBook