It’s 4:45pm on a Monday afternoon when I pull up to the Panther Branch Boys & Girls Club in Fort Worth. I unload my bike and cruise around the parking lot looking for our Southlake Store Director, Liesel McAllister, and the group she coaches here. Kids are chasing each other in the playground. Soccer balls are flying around and hundreds of separate conversations blend together to form a symphony of sound, occasionally pierced by shrieks of delight.
I don’t have children.
I don’t know how to act around children.
In a back corner of the parking lot I finally spy her, pulling bikes out of a trailer and having kids try on helmets. I roll over and announce myself. Liesel says hi, and I get introduced to the other adult volunteers who help run the Southside Triathlon Club, a 501(c)3 youth and juniors non-profit. The children of the club eye me warily for a minute or two, then, deciding I'm no threat, they go about their business. It's obvious that they're excited to ride.
Today is a brick workout, and the volunteers are spending the first few minutes getting everyone sized to their bike. Well... The bikes that the Southside Tri Club provide them.
“The current group of kids are from Sudan, Iraq, Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the US,” Liesel tells me.
Just before we’re about to roll out, I watch a tiny girl named Izzy. She’s wearing Wonder Woman socks with little capes on the back. The girl bends down and tucks the capes into the socks carefully, so that they don’t get caught in the drivetrain of her bike.
Alright… That’s pretty dang cute.