Get behind the Furman cycling team

Here we are in the midst of the college basketball season. It’s not going to well for me. I’ve been a Tar Heel fan for as long as I can remember. I used to have Woody Durham calling the game over the radio while I would shoot baskets out in the driveway. This year, I think the team should be shooting more baskets in my driveway! They could use the practice!

However, this post isn’t about basketball — though it is related to college sports. Did you know that there is a collegiate cycling race team here in Greenville? Yep, the Furman University Cycling Team rides in purple and white during the collegiate cycling season.

I asked Spencer “Piglet” Beamer about the team and learned a lot about some students who have a desire to race their bikes — enough of a desire to start the team with very little support. They have enjoyed some success and if things hold together this year, I’m betting they’ll have some more in 2010.

They have already gotten off to a great start with Chris Butler and Jimmy Mitchel leading the way for the team. Click here to read in Velonews.com a recent report of their exploits. These guys are doing a good deed for Furman… but also the Greenville cycling community. Let’s get behind them.

LowCadence: Who are the members on the team this year?

Spencer Beamer: There are six full-time riders and about 10 more students who are active members. The six  full-time riders are Chris Butler, Spencer Beamer, Andy Baker, Jimmy Mitchell, Craig Mckinney, and Megan Lordi.

LC: Do you guys get any type of scholarships for representing the school?

SB: We get NO scholarships for representing the school. We do get a small amount of money from the club sports department but it is not even close to the amount of money needed to fund a team.

LC: So, you are not considered an official sports team of Furman athletics?

SB: We are a student-run club. This basically means that the club members do all grunt work and the majority of the money we have is from fund raising and sponsorship. We have tried to obtain varsity status but don’t have enough support within the school to make this happen. There isn’t a really great example of another club like ours because we are so much better than the other club sports at Furman (most just do the sport for fun and aren’t competitive), but the Furman Rugby team would be the most similar club to the cycling team.

LC: Do you get any support from the school?

SB: We get minimal monetary support from Furman. Owen McFadden runs the clubs sports department and he has been a tremendous help to us and has done everything in his power to help us. We have to pay our own way to the races, pay the entry fees, pay the hotel fees, and basically pay for all expenses that a normal race weekend would incur. The problem with this is that we are students with no money and no jobs, which makes affording these expenses quite difficult.

LC: When you are operational, do you get any publicity or promotion from the University?

BC: We get tons of publicity for Furman. The first year at Nationals every other cyclist asked at least once, “Who are you guys and where are you from?” We were on the front of GO Magazine this past May and have been in our own local and state newspapers.

LC: Do you guys see yourselves as the beginning of something bigger or is this an opportunity you see for now to enjoy the sport?

SB: I personally want this to be the start of something much bigger and I believe that the other members of the team want this as well. My dream is actually to come back to Furman in 20 years and be greeted by the Varsity Furman Cycling Team. I want to leave my mark on Furman and the Greenville cycling community.

Greenville is a growing hotbed for cycling. The Furman University Cycling Team certainly adds to that sense of connection between the community and cycling. These guys aren’t half-bad either! Just put the 3B’s together (Butler, Beamer, and Baker) and that is a formidable team in and of itself.

So, consider that these guys are going out riding and representing not only Furman University, but the Greenville community as well. If you have the means, why not consider sponsoring the team? You can contact Spencer at spencer.beamer@furman.edu or call him at (865) 705-3527. Can’t sponsor? Get a hold of Spencer and learn how you can donate to the club.