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Empowering youth mountain bikers: Dawn Cooper, ‘07

Dawn Cooper weds her passions for mountain biking, stewardship and education in Boneshaker Adventures, a youth-focused mountain bike program she established in 2015.

In addition to private and small group mountain bike coaching, Boneshaker offers after-school programming in the spring and the fall, along with summer camps.

“The most important thing about the program is that it’s non-competitive,” said Cooper, who also works full time with the Colorado Canyons Association as the river program director. “It’s a safe space for children to grow and push their perceived boundaries.”

Cooper’s talents for teaching and outdoor education burgeoned as a CMU student. She was introduced to the world of professional mountain biking while working in the Outdoor Program and pursuing her applied professional Spanish degree.

Two weeks later, she registered for her first race. She joined the mountain biking team that fall and spent a few years racing professionally before returning to the classroom.

“I wasn’t willing to make the sacrifice to be a professional athlete,” she said. “I wanted to focus on teaching.”

Cooper’s teaching experience extends beyond sports. She taught middle school and high school Spanish, advanced placement classes, and leadership and outdoor education in a variety of classroom settings. She taught at Grand Junction High School and the Alzar School, where students spend half a semester living abroad in Chile.

It’s experiential learning opportunities like these that Cooper hopes to give her students to help empower and instill confidence. Since its first season, Boneshaker’s youth program has grown exponentially. Cooper now contracts with 22 coaches and has more than 130 kids enrolled in the after-school program.

“I’ve never been more humbled and proud of anything I’ve ever done. It’s really illuminating how much this means to other people,” said Cooper. “The most positive thing about mountain biking is the successes you find on the trail can transfer to everyday life.”


Written by Cloie Sandlin