February 8 Director's Note We really value teamwork here at NICA – it’s the cornerstone of success for all high school mountain bike teams, and we k
Matt presenting the NICA Legacy Award to Gary Erickson, co-founder of Clif Bar and Company. Click the photo to see all the 2011 NICA Award recipients.
We really value teamwork here at NICA – it’s the cornerstone of success for all high school mountain bike teams, and we know our leagues cannot produce quality races without tremendous teamwork. And here at the NICA office, if we didn’t have our team, we’d be nowhere. But you can learn a lot from other organizations, so I recently attended a leadership workshop in Seattle, where part of our training included joining the World Famous Fish Market team for the morning. Setting up market at 6:30 AM reminded me of setting up for a race, and I was impressed with the positive spirit, the communication, and all the coaching that goes on. While NICA is known for racing, we couldn’t have the success we do without the incredible amount of coaching that goes on among the 100 teams preparing for the spring races. And I'm reminded of what brought me into this work in the first place, which was being a teacher and a coach. Teaching is still the most important part of my job, and the most rewarding. I hope it is for some of you, too.
Max digs in at his birthday part trail building session.
Student Spotlight on Max Prendergast, Washington League
Max Prendergast lives just east of Seattle, WA and participates in the Washington High School Cycling League as a member of the Eastside Composite Team. Max recently hosted a trail work day to celebrate his 16th birthday. We caught up with him to talk about the experience.
When did you start riding mountain bikes?
When I was young, my dad was, and still is, an avid cyclist and he saw riding on local trails as a way to keep us out of traffic. I did hill climbs on Grand Ridge with my dad to stay in shape. A few years back a group of friends and my brother started to ride the Soaring Eagle trails during the summer, which was an introduction to Duthie Hill and many other trails.
Tell us about what you did for your 16th birthday.
We worked on a trail at Duthie Hill called Gravy Train, from 9:00 AM to about 4:00 PM. We set up in the recently built cover in the clearing with food and drink, then went out to work for a while, came back and had some lunch, then ventured out again. We built an awesome booster on the line called the Prendergap, named after myself.
Why did you decide to host a trail work day?
I have done work parties at Duthie in the summer, and I thought it would be a great idea to get a bunch of my friends to go build trails.
What would you say to other high school mountain bikers who haven't taken part in a trail work day?
It is a great way to give back to the trails and the builders by going out and working. The trails that people shred every day have to be kept in tip-top shape in order to be rideable.
You also meet new riders and workers who are out there every day. It gives you a sense of community and place when you take part in a work party. It's pretty cool working with a bunch of guys that ride bikes just as hard as you do, even though they have a nine to five job.
Outstanding participants in Southern California, Northern California, Colorado and Washington high school cycling leagues were honored at the 2011 National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) Awards, at the Clif Bar and Co. headquarters in Emeryville, California, Saturday, January 14.
NICA presented awards in 13 categories to 21 of the individuals considered to be the most outstanding athletes, most dedicated coaches, and most passionate volunteers, and supporters to have participated in the high school mountain biking revolution.
Matt Fritzinger, executive director of NICA, said, “I am held up by the greatness of those I’m surrounded by, and it’s a privilege to serve and be in the company of such a great group of people. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to listen to the stories of those honored. NICA is something we all have created, and continue to create, and I know that for others – as it is for me – the greatest reward results directly from the effort itself that we put into this organization.”
Quick Spin with Matt Fritzinger, NICA's Executive Director
Why does a national organization need to exist?
With a national organization, there is no need for leagues to keep reinventing the wheel, which allows for rapid expansion that would be difficult if everything were run locally. NICA provides curriculum standards, procedures and policies that have been tested for more than 10 years, and all of this continues to improve because of things we keep learning and sharing as we grow.
Part of running a league is the administrative minutiae. You need to have a handle on all the systems that any small business needs, be it communication, accounting, human resources, etc. A national organization can provide templates, training and assistance to multiple regional leagues. NICA attends a dozen national events each year. We put forward the vision, we advocate on behalf of all leagues and we've been able to create strong relationships with organizations like IMBA to help further our cause.
How realistic is the goal of having high school cycling programs coast to coast by 2020?
The old saying is you can’t do it if you can’t dream it, and a great deal of the work we are doing internally is to prepare for that reality. Right now we're getting so much interest nationally that it looks very realistic. If we continue to add 2-3 leagues a year and we have nine years of development to make it happen – including the seven leagues we already have – you're looking at 25-35 leagues by 2020. Assuming new leagues are in some of the more densely populated states, as many as 100 million high school students in the U.S. will have access to high school mountain biking by 2020.
What is NICA doing for under-privileged students?
NICA is developing a Bike Booster scholarship fund to help economically challenged families purchase a bike for their child. It might be their first bike, which will enable them to participate in a high school league, or it might be a student that is moving up to varsity and needs to go from a heavy bike to a lighter one. Our goal is to have this up and running by mid-2012. In addition, incredibly valuable support comes from volunteer coaches. Nobody can match the impact of an inspired, well-trained coach who can connect with kids.
The Spring racing season is just around the corner. The NorCal, SoCal, Washington and, for the first time, the Texas Leagues are preparing for racing series starting in February and March. NICA is anticipating unprecedented growth, with over 1000 student-athletes expected to participate just in the Spring.
If you haven't made it out to a NICA race yet, now is the time!
NICA's mission is to bring high school mountain biking coast to coast by 2020.
New League Bid Process Opens
NICA has opened it's annual bid process to select next leagues in the effort to bring high school mountain biking coast to coast by 2020. The competitive bid process ends on May 15th when completed bids are due, with the accepted bids being announced shortly thereafter.
To help guide prospective league founders through the process of compiling and submitting a bid, NICA will host regular conference calls.
After a great start at the 2011 Giro d'Italia, NICA has continued its partnership with Velo Veneto in 2012 to offer discounted cycling trips to Italy for anyone involved with any league or NICA. Matt Fritzinger, then a teacher and coach at Berkeley High School, participated in a Velo Veneto camp in 2000 and came back inspired. Shortly afterwards, he started the NorCal High School Cycling League from which NICA sprung.
The first trip will visit three stages of the Giro d'Italia, as well as riding some of the same roads Matt rode in 2000. The trip dates are from May 19-26, 2012, and Velo Veneto is offering a $500 discount for any Coach, Volunteer, or League/NICA Board Member.
The second trip follows immediately after, from May 27 - June 2, 2012, and is available at special pricing as well.
Full details about both of these trips are available here.
Spring Leaders' Summits to Prepare Fall League Coaches
While student-athlete and coaches of Spring league prepare for the upcoming racing season, coaches in the Colorado League, as well as the new Utah and Minnesota Leagues, are preparing to attend Leaders' Summits.
Leaders' Summits are two-day trainings for high school mountain bike coaches that are a fantastic way for adults to get involved in high school mountain biking.
NICA Leagues will be hosting Leaders' Summits across the country this Spring. Leaders' Summits are open to any individual looking to start their own high school mountain bike team, whether as part of an existing league or as an Indie Club.
Introducing Angel Garbarino, NICA Registration Manager
Angel will be heading up NICA's registration services nation wide, and assisting leagues with their scoring systems. When Angel is not on her computer plugging away at excel, she is on her bike or out on another outdoor adventure. Having previous experience working in scoring and event management for various Race Directors, she became connected with NICA doing operations and scoring at the NorCal and Washington League races. She was immediately drawn to NICA, its passion and mission. She joined the team at the end of 2011, becoming the face of Registration and continuing to help with Scoring.