MSU's New Cycling Director is Ready to Roll

Charlie Zamastil is ready for this job, and it's a good thing. The new Director of the MSU Cycling Team has arrived from Philadelphia just in time for two of the team's prime events - the Hotter 'N Hell Hundred and the Collegiate Track Nationals in September.

Zamastil's experience in working with college teams comes courtesy of his past five years as assistant coach and director of performance services at Breakaway Bikes and Fitness in Philadelphia, a city known for its top-level cyclists. Through the bike shop, he worked with teams from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, and he managed and raced with the Temple University Cycling Team. He wasn't the only one to think he would be good as MSU's cycling team director. When the job description was posted, others forwarded it to him, telling him he would be perfect for the job because of his previous experience with managing cycling teams; recruiting sponsors to help fund travel, equipment and uniforms; signing new team members; and making travel arrangements.

Zamastil's work with college teams is just one aspect of why he was chosen to be MSU's Cycling Team director. "Not only is Charlie an accomplished and nationally ranked cyclist himself, but the enthusiasm and the expertise he brings to managing and coaching a national caliber collegiate cycling team along with his understanding of the collegiate environment made him the ideal choice," said Dr. Robert Clark, MSU's Vice President of Administration and Institutional Effectiveness. Zamastil has finished in the top 20 of multiple national championship collegiate and pro races. He is well known in the cycling community for his blog posts and contributions to other cycling media sites.

Although Zamastil is a champion cyclist, his background may not be what you'd expect for a cycling director. He has a liberal arts background, graduating magna cum laude from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., with majors in philosophy and history. At Temple, Zamastil is near completion of his doctorate in philosophy. That education is one that he thinks will fit well with MSU's membership in the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. "Liberal arts schools teach you how to be selective about what you think about," Zamastil said. "You chose to pursue the things that make you happy, and for me that was cycling."

Just over five years ago, cycling director is not the career Zamastil might have imagined for himself. He had long ridden a bike to get places, but not competitively. When he was approached to race by a member of the well-known Temple University Cycling Team, Zamastil laughed. But he tried, and in January 2008, regular rides turned into training rides. He hopes to continue club racing and racing with the domestic elite 160over90/VIE13 team that he helped form. Domestic elite teams are a new team category between amateur and pro cycling.

Zamastil is excited to be part of MSU's cycling program just as the new MSU HHH Cycling Performance Center opens and the cycling minor begins. Zamastil has already met with Dr. Frank Wyatt, director of the cycling performance center, and believes they are kindred spirits, and he has great respect for Wyatt's research in cycling performance. "The resources we have at this university are rare," Zamastil said. "And to work with Dr. Wyatt, that's special."

Cycling is a demanding, physical sport, and knowing how to train a cyclist is an integral part of Zamastil's duties - both the physical and the mental aspects. He is familiar with the stresses faced by college athletes as they train and compete. "Students are going through a lot," Zamastil said. "They're away from home. They may be away from their home country. They have a lot on their minds."

Zamastil began his duties Aug. 7, and with HHH August 23-26, he will hit the road at full speed. Along with getting the team ready for HHH, the Collegiate Track Nationals are in Frisco, Texas, Sept. 20-22, and Zamastil is counting on bringing home some hardware from that contest. Four men and four women will compete. Right now, MSU's cycling team has approximately 25 members - Zamastil would like to see that number double. "People think they have to race or be super competitive, but there's a category for everybody. You don't have to have the latest carbon fiber equipment, you just have to have a bike with drop handlebars and gears and you can race."