Meet Letamarie Highsmith: Our Newest League Cycling Coach
The League’s Smart Cycling program achieved a major milestone in 2022 — certifying its 7,000th League Cycling Instructor (LCI). That’s thousands of bike educators spread out across the country, and their numbers continue to grow as we train, certify and empower more LCIs who teach what they love — bike riding!
Hundreds of these bicycling experts are newly certified each year after completing our LCI course, which includes testing assessments and training during our three-day LCI Seminar.
Who instructs the instructors?
League Cycling Coaches are the talented people who train our LCIs on the Smart Cycling curriculum and how to teach it. They are active advocates in their communities, have assisted with multiple LCI seminars, and have proven their ability to run an effective and efficient LCI Seminar independently. Read on to meet our newest Coach: Letamarie Highsmith!
Letamarie Highsmith became an LCI prior to joining the New Haven Coalition for Active Transportation (NCAT) as a board member and instructor. Leta, like many LCIs, sees being a bike educator as an opportunity to share a love of cycling, but as the first black female League Cycling Coach, she also shares that getting more involved in bike education has given her the opportunity to help more BIPOC cyclists feel represented by the people teaching them to ride. We’re so thrilled to have her on board!
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY YOU ENJOY TEACHING OTHERS TO BIKE.
I enjoy teaching bike education to anyone who wants to learn. It is so important to meet our students where they are and then allow them to build their skills and knowledge for safe riding. I just give the tools necessary for the learner to become empowered to ride safely and with confidence. Their joy gives me joy and the cycle (no pun intended) repeats.
WHAT FIRST MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME AN LCI?
I was asked to become an LCI. I enjoy riding. I enjoy teaching. So why not? I learned to ride as a child and rode often until I turned 16 and started to drive. From then on, I rode for recreation and very sporadically. One day I took my bike out of the garage, had it serviced, and the rest is history. So much changed over the years. There were more cars, and quite frankly, I grew more cautious since I was no longer a fearless kid, but an adult who was a bit intimidated riding in the street. Fast forward to when I started taking Smart Cycling courses and I knew in my heart that the things I learned from the class were lessons worth sharing.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REWARD IN TEACHING BIKE EDUCATION?
I get so much joy when a student masters a new bike skill or when a learn-to-ride child giggles with delight when they get their pedals. However, the highlight to date was a gearing and hill climbing class. All of the students in this particular class were African American females. One of the ladies was clearly delighted and said “I never imagined I would have a black lady bike instructor that looks like us! Bravo!” Then and there I realized there is a segment of our population that is thirsty for minority bike educators. To these students, the messenger was as valuable as the message. Now as a Coach, I look forward to being a part of the League’s commitment to diversifying the LCI and Coach network!
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR LCIS WHO WANTS TO TEACH A CLASS BUT AREN’T SURE HOW TO GET STARTED?
The best advice I would offer is to plan and set up a class through your local bike advocacy organization. I would also suggest they build a relationship with their favorite local bike shop to offer classes.
You can use the League’s Connect Locally map to find these local resources!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING ON A BIKE?
I have no one favorite thing about being on a bike. I enjoy watching life go by….the flavor of neighborhoods, fields, pastures, and vistas…it is all beautiful.
Our League Cycling Coaches and League Cycling Instructors are truly changing the world one bike lesson at a time! If you would like to join them, learn how to become a League Cycling Instructor, the first step to becoming a League Cycling Coach.