Left to right: Laura Webb, Stephanie Baklarz, Courtney Greening, Sami Maldonado, and Gwen Urbain
8 years shredding with Norte = Leadership
Today we shine a spotlight on Liderato Youth Council President Gwen Urbain. Gwen is a senior at Traverse City Central High School and has been riding bikes with Norte since 2014. She now rides on Norte’s Varsity team and is president of the Liderato.
As we begin registration for a new year of youth programs, we sat down with Gwen to talk about her experience representing Team Orange on the trails and in the community.
Norte: How did you begin riding bikes and being involved with Norte?
Gwen: When I was little, my dad would take my brother and me riding every Wednesday on the Vasa. Around 2014, my brother and I would ride the VASA Domingos with Norte. I just loved the sport.
It wasn’t until Varsity started that I became more into training. So, I’ve been getting into the more competitive and local pro level for the past four years on Varsity.
N: What are some of your memories of riding with that core group on Norte Varsity?
G: All the seniors on Varsity right now were that base group when Norte started. We were the first generation of Norte. We’re all going to graduate this year, and it’s super sad.
When Varsity started, we became more like a family and would ride outside the program. Some of my favorite memories were the summer of freshman year when we’d go down the Boardman Trail to hammock and swim. So we’ve made these special memories outside of Norte because Norte bred this little family that we have.
N: You’re currently Norte’s President of Liderato Youth Council. When did you start on the council?
G: I was there at the beginning of Liderato, in 7th grade. It was all about getting together and eating pizza, and brainstorming ideas. Our first focus was a paved trail leading to East Middle School (Three Mile Trail Project).
N: What have been some results of those brainstorming ideas?
G: It’s not about whether or not you can create something incredible. It’s about developing the skills to create different ideas and different goals. So Liderato is producing a bunch of young people who can do great things in the future.
N: As you move into graduation and go off to college, what are you looking forward to from Norte in the coming years?
G: I want to see more girls involved in the sport. We had maybe two girls and ten boys in Varsity when I started. At first, I was like, ‘Oh, they’re boys, they’re allowed to be faster, which is why I’m not as fast as them.’ And then my dad told me, “if you start beating them, they’ll start talking to you.”
That’s how I got over that hill — by realizing that as long as you train, you can totally kick their butts. And that’s how I made some of my best friends.
N: Do you have anything to add?
G: I love how Norte encourages youth in all the different ways, in both leadership and being on a bike. I’m looking forward to seeing others come out of Norte’s programs.
Gwen is currently exploring colleges that will allow her to continue riding and cross country skiing at a competitive level. In addition, she plans to study psychology and neuroscience and pursue her interest in music.
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