Athens you asked, we answered, see you in 2020! | Little Bellas


Little Bellas

Athens you asked, we answered, see you in 2020!

This post is part of our “Postcard from…” series to introduce the new Little Bellas programs for 2020.

Once a trading settlement called Cedar Shoals on the banks of the Oconee River, Athens, Ga. now trades in something far more valuable than material goods: knowledge. Athens’s intellectual and cultural prosperity have been evolving for more than two centuries since the chartering of Georgia’s first state-funded university. It was the University of Georgia that brought Jade Fernandez to Athens, and now it’s Jade, a former mentor for Little Bellas’ Woodstock, Ga. chapter, who is bringing Little Bellas to Athens.

Little Bellas gave Trail Creek Park a whirl and this happened...

Last September Athens hosted a “Give It a Whirl Day,” which invited girls to Trail Creek Park just north of the city to get a taste of what the Little Bellas program is all about. Each year Little Bellas hosts Give It a Whirl Days in various locations throughout the country to introduce the program into communities that are interested in starting a Little Bellas chapter. The Athens event reached the maximum number of 20 participants in no time, which may be the direct result of the city’s rich cycling culture that includes the first person to bike around the world in 1934-1935, Athens native Fred Birchmore, and currently an all-women’s cycling club.

“At our Give it a Whirl Day, the girls were so excited about the riding and games, and so so brave,” Jade said. “They had so much personality, which was awesome to see. I think we have the potential and the community to create a strong presence of young, female riders.”

Introducing Jade Fernandez

Little Bellas Athens lead Jade Fernandez pets a pig

Jade “cut her teeth” mountain biking on the flow-y trails laced with tree roots and studded with punchy climbs of Fort Yargo State Park, just west of Athens. Little Bellas will be able to test out their newly earned skills at Trail Creek Park, which has some of the same trail features as Fort Yargo. Jade’s experience as a beginner mountain biker in the not-so-distant past (2016) will lend a lot of empathy and understanding to Little Bellas who are trying out mountain biking for the first time, but it’s her work as a professional actress that will define Jade’s style.

Jade on improv and comedy and how they relate to mountain biking

Athens Little Bellas lead Jade Fernandez gives us a glimpse of her silly side

“I definitely love to be silly, so that's a plus,” she said. “The key to being successful at improv or comedy is to commit to whatever you're doing. If you only halfway commit to your joke or premise, it fails. The same thing applies to mountain biking — when you're trying something new on the bike, you have to really commit (though it may not end in laughter).”

Athens is a foodie haven where going out is inexpensive, delicious, and where choice and creativity rule the local fare. Jade called out a few of her favorites, which include Juarito's Taqueria, The National, Maepole, Seabear, Peppino's Pizzeria, Taqueria del Sol, and Tlaloc. So for post-ride eats, you’ve got options that span local traditions, cultures, and continents. Once you get the main course out of the way, you’ll want to chase it with an ice cream sandwich from Condor Chocolates, cupcakes from Viva, or guava empanadas from Punta Cana.

The National restaurant in Athens is famous for its pizzette
Yum! Post-ride pizzette from The National
photo: Rinne Allen

There’s one more thing that Athens owes its cultural depth and range to.

“Athens is its own little microcosm in northeast Georgia,” Jade added. “Most people here are hyphenates with tons of interests, so even if you’re not a fan of college football, you'll find Athens charming.”

Registration for the Athens chapter of Little Bellas opens on February 1, 2020. To learn more about the new chapter, visit the program description here While you're there, follow the "Register" link to sign up for a reminder to let you know when registration is open!