Cyclist helps kids pedal through rough patches

Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Published Aug. 1, 2016
Steve Goolsby bikes around the Space and Rocket Center.

Steve Goolsby bikes around the Space and Rocket Center.

Steve Goolsby poses with the NICA biking team he mentors.

Steve Goolsby poses with the NICA biking team he mentors.

A Facilities Division Branch Chief at the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, turned his mountain biking hobby into a way to give back to the community.

Through the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, Steve Goolsby is a certified head coach and encourages kids to keep pedaling through rough terrain, whether it is on the bike path or in life.

He mentors kids from the Huntsville area between the sixth and twelfth grade and teaches them the ways of the trail.

“(NICA) is all about taking kids from the sixth grade to seniors and getting them into a sport, where it’s just a big family,” Goolsby said. “It’s competitive, sure, but everybody’s a huge fan.”

From October to March, the biking season, the kids practice four times a week, Goolsby said.

“We spend well over 150 hours a season with the kids,” he said.

But NICA goes beyond teaching kids a new sport.

“I bought into teaching teenage kids mountain biking but (it is) more than that,” he said.

NICA tries to instill five core values in kids. Those values are inclusiveness, equality, strong body, strong mind and strong character, Goolsby said.

Through these values, students learn there are “no bench warmers”, everyone makes the team, physical health is important, their studies are top priority and to “respect others”, according to the association’s website.

One student, who Goolsby mentored through NICA, recently competed in the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships.

“I just kind of mentored him, brought him along, and then along that way he got really good,” Goolsby said. “I kept pushing him and kept motivating him, kept talking to him.”

Not only did the NICA program bring out the student’s talent for biking, it also helped keep him out of trouble, Goolsby said.

Goolsby also shares his love of the sport with his family, particularly his 5-year-old daughter Kinsley, who learned to ride a bike at one of the races.

“This excitement (for biking) is shared between the two of us, and it is our activity that we usually do to give mom a break,” Goolsby said. “My favorite thing is her sheer joy to be with me and take part in an activity that I enjoy so much.”

Goolsby enjoys road biking too. He tries to hit the road or trail once a week, and normally spends two or three hours at a time riding, he said.

“Anything less is just to keep me sane,” Goolsby said

The physical, as well as the social, side of biking contributes to Goolsby’s sanity.

“I’m an extrovert,” he said. “I love the outgoing aspect of (biking). I don’t like to go ride by myself; that’s boring. That’s no fun. I prefer to be with a group.”

Goolsby’s outgoing nature and desire to give back to others reflects in his work environment.

“Around the building I see many of our teams working extremely hard to meet mission requirements,” he said. “This takes a toll on them and their families.  Therefore, part of my leadership goal is to help the organization work smarter and not harder.”

When Goolsby is not helping others at work or in the community, he is helping himself to a dose of trail riding, but the trails come with more than steep terrain.   

Although mountain biking is fun for Goolsby, it also has a dangerous side, too.

“I’ve had a concussion (while mountain biking),” he said. “I’ve had two series of broken ribs.”

Goolsby can handle a few broken bones— just not a trail danger of another kind, he said.

“I can have a wreck and skin myself up or whatever, but I just don’t want to run across a snake in the path,” Goolsby said. “That drives me crazy, and yes, I have. Your adrenaline goes sky high, and you have to learn how to jump your bike. You just hope it’s not in attack mode.”

Goolsby started to learn the ins and outs of the sport, including jumping his bike over snakes, when he moved to Huntsville.

“I just started mountain biking on Monte Sano,” he said. “Then it turned into a hobby. The community here is really strong with biking.”

And it is that same tight-knit community feel that makes Goolsby want to reach out to others so they can experience it for themselves.

He organized several bike rides for his coworkers and their children at the Engineer Day Picnic, an annual Huntsville Center event, so they could also experience the fun biking offers.

“I host the rides and introduce people to Monte Sano,” he said. “Most people haven’t been on the trails. Some have and just want a friend to ride with, (but) watching the kids is the most fun.”

Goolsby’s passion for the sport developed from a biking enthusiast to a biking educator. 

“Nowadays I love teaching it, passing it on to kids,” Goolsby said. “We’ve got so many kids stuck in bad situations.”

NICA offers kids an escape from bad circumstances and also gives them a tool to improve those situations.

“I wanted to find something to give back, and the day I heard about (NICA), I was like ‘I’m in,’” Goolsby said.