Director of Coaching Chris McGovern on the FLC campus.
One part of Chris McGovern's new job will be easy. "Fort Lewis’ reputation as a cycling school is pretty solid," he says. "We've had a lot of national champions, and many who have graduated and gone on to compete internationally."
His job, then, as Fort Lewis Cycling's new Director of Coaching is to keep the team rolling.
The program that has won 17 national championships is rolling toward another national championship -- this time in road competition -- and its fourth #1 national end-of-season ranking when the team heads to Madison, Wisconsin, this weekend to compete in the National Collegiate Cycling Association Road National Championships. The event completes the four-discipline collegiate cycling year.
McGovern, hired in January, arrived with solid reputation of his own as a professional competitor and trainer. Born in Alaska and raised in Nevada City, California, McGovern moved to Europe in 1991 to race as an amateur. He later returned to the United States to attend the University of Utah, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in commercial recreation management.
After college, McGovern turned professional, racing internationally for the Zaxby’s, Jelly Belly, HealthNet and Sierra Nevada teams. In 2005, he moved into coaching and started Cycleution, a personal-training company coaching athletes in all cycling disciplines. "I’ve formulated my philosophy based on my own successes and failures," he says. "How to eat, how to train, how to sleep. Anything I learned, I share."
Now McGovern is sharing his broad and varied experience with the nation's #1 collegiate cycling team. "My job is to make sure our cyclists are having fun, but also to make sure they know how to turn the switch on and do what they need to do," he says.
But like the program's reputation, McGovern feels like he's able to hit the ground running -- or rolling -- because of the standards of quality Director of Operations Dave Hagen and his predecessors have established with Fort Lewis Cycling. "The infrastructure here for riding is second to none. It’s pretty parallel to a professional program. No other college has the infrastructure that we have, so that’s really appealing to student athletes," he says. "We attract the best cyclists in the world. I get emails every day from kids calling me, wanting to be a part of our team."
"The reason FLC cycling is so appealing," he concludes, "is because our riders are part of a family."
And that family spirit has extended to McGovern himself, he notes. He moved to Durango in January, and his wife will be following him here once the racing season ends and he can get settled. Already, though, he says he has found a home here.
"The campus and Durango community here is unbelievably awesome," he says. "It’s just such a warm feeling. Everyone in this town loves bike racing. I’ll walk down the street downtown and people are like, 'Hey coach!' I feel like I’m the high school football coach in a some small town in Texas. And that makes me even more pumped about my role here."