Lees McCrae College, a tiny Presbyterian school in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, offers a degree in Cycling.
Students can now earn a minor in cycling through their one of a kind Bicycle Studies Program, with classes, field study and an internship.
The college has won 10 collegiate national championships in various cycling categories since 2003. The new college president, Dr Barry Buxton, is himself an avid cyclist and he loves the program.
“We want to give our cyclists another avenue in which to explore the ever-growing and dynamic world of cycling. Our students are talented riders and mechanics, and we want to provide them with opportunities outside of team racing,” said Dr. Buxton. “With the College’s new cycling minor in place, our graduates can be extremely competitive in the cycling industry as coaches, managers, officials, planners, team directors, designers, promoters, or trainers.”
“My goal is to ultimately have 150 cyclists enrolled at Lees-McRae,” he continues. “We plan to continue to win national championships, but we also want to prepare our graduates to assume positions of leadership in the business world of bicycling.” Lees-McRae’s enrollment is under 900 students.
Students in the program will learn the history and principles of bicycling; obtain skills needed to integrate cycling into the environment, city planning and recreation tourism; envision and develop a realized cycling-related business and synthesize the sport of cycling. This program will position graduates to obtain positions in fields such as team management, bicycle design, coaching, education, urban design, training, retail, planning, event promotion, marketing and more.
Goals of the program include promoting the art and science of the bicycling industry, providing quality education to support the knowledge and skills of bicycling competitors and enthusiasts, promoting bicycle safety and preparing future generations of bicyclists.
Courses that make up the program range from History and Principles of Bicycling to Business and Economics of Sports and from Nutrition and Athletic Performance to Creativity and Innovation. Students will also complete a field study in cycling and an internship in cycling before graduation.
Since its inception, the Bobcat cycling team turned out a number of professional cyclists. Noted alumni currently competing at the professional level include Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team), Aaron Bradford (OnSite Racing), Ally Stacher (HTC-Highroad), Scott Stewart (Team Type 1), and Andrew Talansky (Giant-Specialized), among others. 23-year-old Carla Swart, who was killed last January when she was hit by a car in South Africa, was also a Lees-McCrae alumni.