By Shaun Szkolnik, for The Journal
TRUSSVILLE — This week’s Bedzzz Express MVP of the week is Hewitt-Trussville student-athlete Izzy Haley.
Haley is a junior and competes on the Hewitt-Trussville Mountain Bike Team. She finished fourth overall for sophomore girls last year. This year, Haley is set to finish no lower than second place for the JV class.
“The girls (in JV) are stronger, they’re a little bit more competitive,” said HT Mountain Bike Team Coach Rhonda Brittain. “And there are 25 girls in the JV class and second out of 25, to me, is pretty huge.”
For Brittain, the work that Haley has put in is outstanding.
“She rode last year for us,” said Brittain. “It was her first year, and her trail skills have developed so much just in one year. She’s placed second in both of the races in the JV category, which is very competitive. She has a lot of fitness…she’s been working very hard during the season, but she also rode last summer, and she rode in the fall. She’s been riding outside of the season, which has helped her improve her trail skills and her fitness, as well.”
The decision to get into mountain bike racing was not a slam-dunk for Haley. She considered it for a year before finally committing to it. Since doing so, however, she has not regretted the decision.
“In Alabama, there’s not really a big mountain biking scene,” said Haley. “So, I was never really exposed to it. But I knew that my school had a team and I was interested, and I had looked on Craigslist and found the perfect bike…it was listed for $700, but I had been working, and I had that money, and so I was like, ‘I’m just going to do it.’”
One thing that appeals to Haley is how mountain bike racing encourages an individual to perfect themselves on their own terms.
“There is no level of mountain biking that you have to reach,” said Haley. “If you just want to ride a bike on the trail…it still counts. There is no one you have to beat or be better than. You just have to compete with yourself. It is a very independent sport.”
Although only a junior, Haley has already given some consideration to her future and how the sport of mountain bike racing might fit into it.
“I definitely want to go to a college with a collegiate racing team, even if it is just for fun,” said Haley. “I definitely find mountain biking to be more on the fun side. I am very competitive, but I always make sure to keep it fun, so it’s definitely a sport that I would see myself doing for the rest of my life.”
Hayley’s time with the team has been rewarding for Brittain, as well.
“(I’ve enjoyed seeing) how much she’s grown as a person and with her confidence,” said Brittain “…she really just jumped in there like she was a pro.
“What’s cool about it, she is racing for the individual points, but she’s also contributing a great deal to the team points, so there are two aspects there.”
Brittain explained the dynamics of the sport and how Haley has managed to excel at it.
“What you put into it personally is what you are going to get out of it,” she said. “There is definitely a direct correlation there.”
Brittain also expressed her appreciation for Haley as a valuable member of the team.
“We really are happy that she is on the team,” Brittain said. “We don’t really have a lot of girls, and it is something that is a little bit harder to get into…but don’t be scared. Challenge yourself, and you’re gonna be successful at it.”