AV grad back to lead Shepherd Mountain Bike Park operations
The new director of operations for Shepherd Mountain Bike Park is a familiar face in Ironton and in the mountain biking community.
After graduating from Arcadia Valley High School then moving away for college, Lacee Cofer is back in her hometown with her husband, David, who introduced her to the sport of mountain biking.
In 2008, she got a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri in anthropology, sociology, and multi-cultural studies. After that, she moved to Florida to study geographic information systems and business administration at the University of West Florida. Then she spent eight years working for the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
“My husband is a really active mountain biker,” she said. “And we had kind of been toying with the idea of moving back to the area for a while, and the bike park really sold it for us. We bought a house here. And we were planning on going back and forth between Florida and here and using the house as a vacation rental. But then this job opportunity presented itself so we decided to move here full time.”
Although she says she’s not that good at it, Cofer enjoys mountain bike riding.
“I never really thought about it as a sport that I could do or would have really be interested in,” she said. “But it’s actually really fun. And (David) really introduced this to me. He was on the Mizzou cycling team.
“And so we kind of knew several people that were in the local mountain bike community before all of this. So it was really nice to have a group of people that are really interested and passionate about the park that we’ve known for a really long time and to just see something like this happen.”
You can normally find her on the trails at Shepherd Mountain one day a week.
“These trails here are pretty challenging,” she said.
Her husband rides the trails two to three times a week.
“He loves it,” she added. “He loves living so close. And he loves having a park that is challenging but just so unique and in such a pretty area.”
In June, Cofer was hired as the first administrator for park, which opened in April. In September, she transitioned into the role as director of operations.
“I’m kind of wearing a lot of hats right now,” she explained. “(I’ll) focus on social media marketing, managing both the bike park and the wheelhouse and the staff, budgeting, strategic planning, and event planning.
‘I’ll be coordinating all of the events for the bike park. And then I also work with some of the funding opportunities like funding events, our sponsorship program, and grant writing, things like that.”
She has two big goals she’s working on right now for the bike park. The first is to get funding to build phase two of the trails.
“It’s going to be more cross country style trails and easier beginner downhill trails,” she said.
Her other goal is to get the community more involved.
“I think building those additional trails will provide more of an opportunity for people in the community to learn how to mountain bike,” she continued.
Right now, Cofer is working on events and opportunities to bring community members to the mountain to see what they are doing, even if they aren’t into mountain biking.
“There’s a little bit of a disconnect,” she explained. “Most of the mountain bikers that visit are from out of town, a lot from out of state. I really think the mountain bike park is an awesome thing for our community. I want to share it with everyone, so everyone can experience how cool it is and take pride in something that our community has and should be really proud of.”
One of those events is a community day on Oct. 30. It will be an open house where community members can take free shuttle rides up the mountain to check out the trails and watch some of the riders. There will also be music and refreshments.
“We’re going to be there just talking about how the park is doing, what we’ve been up to, future plans, and things like that,” she said. “So it’s going to be a really fun all-day event for people to just come and learn and check everything out.”
Nikki Overfelt-Chifalu is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.