Over the past twenty years, Proctor Academy’s Mountain Bike team has grown from a group of eight students and one coach riding on hardtail bikes on a rocky, aging trail infrastructure behind campus to a program of over 40 riders, five coaches, and one of the nicest trail networks, bike mechanics shops, and outdoor center in the region under the guidance of coaches Josh Norris, Chris Farrell, Chris Grotnes, Jennifer Summers, and Justin Sperry.
Proctor's 2005 Mountain Biking Team
Proctor's 2023 Mountain Biking Team
As the team wrapped up the season with the Northern New England Mountain Bike Championship at Holderness School on Saturday, it was not only the Top 10 finishes in all classes that stood out, but the amount of fun the team had riding and competing against the other 300+ riders in the league. As a few of the team’s seniors reflect in their responses below, it is the combination of camaraderie, pushing of physical limits, exploring the natural world, and serving the community through weekly trail maintenance that has allowed Proctor’s Mountain Biking Team to grow into what it is today.
At the league championship, Proctor’s team finished 9th place overall, with Cortland Parker ‘27 earning 14th place in the Boys A category, while Henry Wagler ‘25 placed 3rd in Boys B, Bode Dodge ‘27 earned 9th in Boys B, Alex Skinner ‘26 snagged 3rd overall in Boys C, Ollie Grotnes ‘26 9th place in Boys C, Lisle Coombs ‘24 earned 3rd in Girls C and Julia Elkind placed 6th in Girls C. These finishes capped a season where the depth of Proctor’s field allowed the team to go on daily rides extending to all corners of Proctor’s extensive trail network, weaving around all 2,500 acres of Proctor’s land. Check out more season results HERE and read from the student perspective why the Mountain Biking Team continues to make a difference in the Proctor community.
What is your favorite part about the Mountain Biking program at Proctor? Why?
Lisle Coombs ‘24: My favorite part about the mountain biking team is that we get to go outside and be a part of nature every day! “Adventure days” are the best.
Will Lunder ‘24: My favorite part of the program is easily making friends. I consider myself to be a people person, so biking and getting to know people is really fun to me. There are other reasons why I like to bike; it’s good exercise, but also it’s mentally stimulating. It really makes your mind think about your ride. Biking also is a destresser for me. Being out in the woods, breathing the fresh air, and not having to think about stressful college applications is a great reward.
Kiefer Reutlinger '24: My favorite part about the mountain biking program is simply that I can get outside with great people every day. I get to look forward to biking with friends and coaches every afternoon. As we near the end of the season, I know that I will miss that a lot.
Whitney Hollenbeck '24: My favorite part of the mountain bike team is the community. It's not an easy sport, but the team members and coaches make it fun daily. We get to travel across northern New England, riding some of the prettiest places, which is an additional bonus.
As seniors on the team, how have you tried to sustain/create a positive culture on the team?
Lisle ‘24: Sometimes, one negative comment can snowball into everyone having a bad ride. When I hear something negative, I try to nip it in the bud while also acknowledging frustrations. Sure, riding in the rain is cold, but the puddles are so fun to splash in! Usually, saying something positive is enough to get everybody to start thinking the same way.
Will ‘24: Positive team culture is a really big part of our team. We work hard to make everyone feel accepted into the team. The older students help the newer kids with many things, from cleaning to maintaining their bikes. I hand out snacks on the bus and am affectionately called the “Flight Attendant.” It’s the little things that make the team such a tightly-knit group.
Kiefer '24: It starts with us just being positive. It is really easy to feed into a negative atmosphere so we do not amplify a problem. It is also important to recognize people who are being positive and help make practice a fun environment.
Whitney '24: Being a senior is crazy, this year, we have worked a lot on inclusion and bringing together our group of nearly 40 riders. It can be isolating at points, but you can get through the challenging rides without each other.
What makes your coaches such a special group of adults?
Lisle ‘24: Our coaches are simply the best. They always take Will’s pranks with a laugh—which is good because there are a lot of them.
Will ‘24: The coaches are some of the best bikers I have ever seen. They have great attitudes no matter how bad the weather is or how much I prank them. As one of the captains, I assist in planning our week for what will be our rides. They are always accommodating of what can or can’t be done. Over the four years of my “career,” they have become some of my best faculty “friends.” There are no other coaches I would want than them.
Kiefer '24: Our coaches are one of the best parts of our team. They are always happy to get outside with us and just make biking so much fun. We can joke around and have a good time with our coaches and they can also push us to be faster. I am grateful that our coaches create an environment where we can all show up and enjoy riding bikes.
Whitney '24: We couldn't have a more amazing four coaches; they are here to teach and work hard daily. They participate in every practice, which isn't normal for coaches. They always have smiles on their faces, and our conversations during rides can be the best parts of my day. The program wouldn't be the same without them; from the trails they build to the environment on the team, they embody the values of Proctor.
What are you most proud of in terms of individual or team accomplishments this year?
Lisle ‘24: This year, our team has had a very positive atmosphere. I’m especially proud of the new members of the team for contributing to that culture. Everybody here loves biking, and we’re all excited to have a good time!
Will ‘24: I’m most proud of my improvement in all aspects. I have helped the coaches more, trying to take more weight off their backs, as we all know they do so much for us. I'll carry snacks to eat during the rides for the team; I will help load and unload people's bikes, and fill our water jug to bring on our off-campus rides. I’m arguably the best rider, as you can tell by my placing of 80 out of 84. I’m proud of my achievements this year, which include becoming a “B” rider.
Kiefer '24: I am proud of the biker that I have become. I, along with many others, like to track my rides on Strava and I love to see that I am improving and just getting faster. My goal in general is to become a better and faster rider, so I like to see that I am actually improving my times.
Whitney '24: I am very proud of the community we have created this year; even though the ratio of girls to guys is very divided, we do a fantastic job joining together, whether it be cheering at races, conversations during rides, or even van trips. Some of this is due to the captainship and how we have done such a great job making the team; we couldn't have done it without Will and Kiefer.