Personality: Dr. Kate Hoof

Spotlight on board president of Richmond Cycling Corps

5/12/2022, 6 p.m.
Dr. Kate Hoof is helping Richmond kids put the pedal to the metal.

Dr. Kate Hoof is helping Richmond kids put the pedal to the metal.

As board president of Richmond Cycling Corps, Dr. Hoof is a key part of the nonprofit organization’s efforts to educate and empower the middle and high school youths of the East End’s public housing communities by using cycling to build character and physical and mental health and lessons that go beyond the streets and bike paths of the city.

“Cycling is just the hook that we use to bring in students,” Dr. Hoof says. “Once they are in the program, we tailor our approach to each student individually. The goal is to work with schools and parents to provide student support where and when it’s needed.”

Dr. Hoof’s belief in the positive elements of cycling is clear from her experience. She has had a deep connection to multiple cycling programs over the years. She has created videos for World T.E.A.M. Sports and journeyed to southeast Asia to document grant programs for Cultural Vistas.

She extolls the benefits of what she calls the “Great Reset” that comes when you use a bicycle for exercise and stress relief.

“Study after study has shown the positive impacts that endurance exercise has on mental and physical health,” Dr. Hoof says. “It helps provide anyone of any age some clarity and focus. It also helps our participants set, work toward, and achieve goals.”

RCC aims to support the youths in the program beyond just the cycling experience. Through the students’ middle school and high school years, RCC builds support in a variety of outlets, from establishing structure and stability for youths to providing employment opportunities through local businesses and The Kickstand, a local bike rental company operated by RCC youths and alumni.

As board president, Dr. Hoof seeks to guide RCC toward longterm sustainability. A major principle behind this strategy is to “always pivot towards relevant outreach,” according to Dr. Hoof.

At 7 p.m. Monday, May 16, RCC is hosting the premiere of a short film about the program’s Legacy Cycling team that was filmed last year as the youths practiced in Richmond and raced in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The event, to be held at the Byrd Theatre in Carytown, is a fundraiser for the Richmond Cycling Corps and will feature a silent auction, raffle items and food and beverages. Tickets are $20 and are available at rccxshimano. eventbrite.com.

With a small staff of three, RCC is not able to bring in as many kids as wanted into the programs. Still, they work to maintain a high quality of service rather than a large quantity of participants. However, volunteering opportunities are available for those who want to help the group expand its outreach to more youths in the East End.

And for youths unable to afford bicycles and the related gear, Dr. Hoof says RCC works to accommodate those who may not have the means for cycling.

“The Richmond Cycling Corps provides everything,” Dr. Hoof says. “Cycling as a sport can be inherently exclusive. Bikes, helmets, cycling clothes, race fees, etc.—it all adds up!

“We offer the students in our program an open door to a sport that has a high barrier to entry.”

It’s just one aspect of an organization that regularly works to help better the lives of youths by putting rubber to he road.

Meet a leader helping youths through cycling and this week’s Personality, Dr. Kate Hoof:

No. 1 volunteer position: Board president, Richmond Cycling Corps.

Occupation: Instructional designer for Instructure, an educational tech company.

Date and place of birth: Sept. 16 in Richmond.

Where I live now: Richmond.

Education: Bachelor’s in English, master’s in education and doctorate in leadership, all from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Mission of Richmond Cycling Corps: To educate and empower the lives of Richmond youths living in the heart of the East End by constantly pivoting toward relevant outreach.

Founder: Craig Dodson.

When and why founded: The Richmond Cycling Corps was founded in early 2010 as an extension of Richmond Pro Cycling, an outreach-based professional cycling team here in Richmond. After starting an after-school cycling program, Craig Dodson, our founder, quickly realized that the students that he was working with could use more help than just what an after-school program could offer. He pivoted towards a more holistic approach to outreach and met each student where they were in order to help them with their individual needs.

Where Richmond Cycling Corps is located: The Richmond Cycling Corps operates out of the Armstrong Bike Park in Richmond’s East End. It is centrally located between Fairfield Court and Creighton Court, right next to Armstrong High School. For eight years now, the Armstrong Bike Park has been a feature in the community and a convenient home base for our program that serves youths from all over the East End.

Who does Richmond Cycling Corps serve: The Richmond Cycling Corps serves the youths of the East End. Our approach is through the lens of “quality, not quantity.” When the RCC team meets new students — usually through teacher/school administration recommendation or through word-of-mouth through the neighborhood — we stick with them. We try to work with middle school-age students and mentor them throughout their middle school and high school careers. The students in the program stay in the program.

No. 1 goal or project as board president: To guide the organization toward a sustainable future.

Strategy for achieving goals: One of our guiding principles is to always pivot toward relevant outreach. If we find that a policy or program that we have is stagnating or not keeping up with the dynamic environment that is Richmond’s East End, we will absolutely change to meet those needs. This principle has helped us to stay relevant for more than a decade, and we always find ourselves right where we want to be.

Biggest challenge Richmond Cycling Corps faces: There are always more kids that could use our programs. Not being able to help all kids in the East End is a challenge with our small staff of three that has always valued quality of service more than the quantity of service. Matt Kuhn, Ryan Hamlet and Brad Kaplan are great with the kids. If we could only have 50 Matts, Ryans and Brads, we could bring more kids into the program.

Richmond Cycling Corps partners with: The Richmond Cycling Corps is proud to partner with Shimano and Endura, two major companies in the cycling industry that provide both material and financial support. Locally, we partner with the Anna Julia Cooper School to provide cycling to their middle schoolers. We also partner with local bike shops such as Outpost, Carytown Bikes and Pedal Power.

How to become involved as a cyclist: The best way to become involved as a cyclist would be to join one of our middle school practices. We are always looking for volunteers to join these practices. They are a great way to help students and to hone your cycling skills.

How to become involved as a volunteer: Send an email to info@richmondcyclingcorps. org or a message via Instagram or Facebook.

Upcoming event: On Monday, May 16, at 7 p.m. RCC is going to premiere a short film about the program at the Byrd Theatre in Carytown. Shimano, one of our industry partners, sent a world-class film crew to town to highlight the program. The evening is also a fundraiser for RCC and will feature food, drink, raffle items and a silent auction. Proceeds from the $20 ticket price go directly to RCC. Tickets can be purchased at rccxshimano.eventbrite.com.

A perfect day for me: Would involve mountain biking, friends and pizza, preferably overseas.

Cycling for me is: A workout, a social outlet and a good time.

What I am learning about myself during the pandemic: That I’m a true introvert.

Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: Traveling solo internationally.

My friends describe me as: Adventurous.

At the top of my “to-do” list is: I don’t do lists.

Best late-night snack: I don’t do late-night snacks either. Not on my list!

Best thing my parents ever taught me: The value of education and the opportunities it brings.

Person who influenced me the most: My Mom.

Book that influenced me the most: As a former English teacher, there are too many to list, but I’ve learned important lessons about humanity from Chinua Achebe in “Things Fall Apart,” Rory Stewart in “The Places in Between,” Jhumpa Lahiri in “The Namesake” and “Calypso” by David Sedaris.

What I’m reading now: “Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue.

Next goal: Learn how to play the drums.