Waterford High School senior plans to hit the road after graduation
Waterford — Ethan DelGrosso is taking the path less traveled after he graduates from Waterford High School.
Though he was accepted to the University of Connecticut, the only school he applied to, DelGrosso is instead pursuing a professional cycling career with aspirations of performing on the world’s biggest stage ― the Tour de France.
“You only get one chance to say you’re a pro athlete,” the 18-year-old told The Day.
DelGrosso, a Waterford native, has been cycling competitively since he was in sixth grade and has competed in approximately 300 races across the country. He has won his share of state and regional championships and has a fourth-place finish in a national championship race to his credit, but is working to race in the sport’s premier races as part of the professional cycling’s World Tour.
Like professional golf, cycling has a number of different professional tours. DelGrosso compared the World Tour to golf’s PGA Tour, where the best of the professionals compete. He’s currently on a developmental portion of a team based in Massachusetts named CompEdge Racing that he hopes he can eventually out grow and advance his career.
Cycling and golf, DelGrosso’s leisure sport of choice to clear his mind, are similar in that there are no teammates for support. While he has his coach, Stephen Hyde, who helps schedule his 10 to15 hours of weekly training, DelGrosso said his performance ultimately comes down to him.
“I can’t fall on someone else when I’m not doing well,” he said. “It’s on me.”
DelGrosso’s family first got him on a motorbike, with training wheels, when he was just 2 years old. He said everyone in his family — including his parents, siblings and uncles — road motorbikes so he was naturally introduced. He and his dad, Shane, took a liking to cycling, a big component of motorcross training, and found that he excelled at it after entering their first race. While his dad no longer races, and his older siblings stopped riding before he made the transition to cycling, DelGrosso’s mom, Sandy, continues to ride and race, though not at the same level as her son.
“It’s nice for family time,” DelGrosso said of their weekend trips to races. “Most kids don’t spend that much time with their families.”
DelGrosso explained that the high school staff, including his counselor Jason Adler, have helped him work his class schedule to accommodate his cycling passion, but he said he always pushed himself in the classroom. DelGrosso said he took seven advanced placement courses while at Waterford High School and will graduate with a 3.69 GPA, even if homework was not always his strong suit.
Where DelGrosso found his classroom passion was with the school’s unified program. As a Unified Partner, DelGrosso worked with special needs students and helped them participate in sports and activities that may otherwise be a challenge. The program encompasses a broad range of activities from basketball to culinary classes and even a prom, which was held in early May.
DelGrosso said he stops by the unified classroom every morning and has built relationships with all the students. He said it’s what he devotes his time to while in school and enjoys having a positive impact on the lives of others, like a girl named Morgan whom he’s been in school with since preschool. At one point, Morgan used a wheelchair but now is on crutches that DelGrosso said she barely uses when the two work together playing basketball.
“We really create a community,” DelGrosso said.
Unified PE teacher Andy Walker said having DelGrosso in the classroom is like having another certified teacher. Walker said that DelGrosso has built relationships and understanding of all the needs of the unified athletes and “goes above and beyond” on a daily basis. He called DelGrosso a natural and nurturing leader who will be missed by all.
“Ethan does not take lightly his role in the classroom,” Walker said. “He embraces it and finds so much enjoyment from it.”
DelGrosso said if he does ever decide that his cycling career isn’t going as planned, he can always return to school, where he would pursue a degree in physical education for special education, as that is “what I love to do.”
But for now, DelGrosso is going to let the bike path take him as far as it can and push himself to reach his goal of one day riding in the Tour de France while representing the United States.
“I gotta give it my all,” DelGrosso said .
Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.