Rick Spittler, NICA's board president, on course at the Colorado State Champs.
A Note From Our President
During this holiday season, I would like to give thanks to all of you who have given your time, energy and financial resources to help create the opportunity for high school students to participate in high school mountain bike racing.
In this effort to take high school mountain biking across the country, the student-athletes are what keeps us going. Seeing the faces of the racers at the recent Colorado High School State Championships I couldn't help but be inspired at their enthusiasm, spirit and determination. Walking around the Pit Zone, it struck me that the people there supporting the student-athletes came from all corners of the community, but that spirit and enthusiasm had spread to each and every one of them.
One of the things that makes our movement unique is that the entire community rallies behind their high school mountain bike league. Bike shops, supporting both teams and leagues financially, have seen employees get on their bikes as ride leaders, team mechanics and coaches. Adults in the community, many of which don't have children in the program, are stepping in to support their local teams.
That network of support extends from the local to the national level. Even the individual league directors, separated by hundreds or thousands of miles, form a support network that supports each league in times of hardship. Whether it be lending expertise in an area of work or stepping in to help at an event in times of need, the league directors are there supporting one another to ensure the success of our movement.
Why do they do it? What brings this huge network of people together to support this high school sport? You see the smile on the face of a student-athlete as he or she finishes their first race. You see the pride on the face of a rider when they wear their team jersey to school the day before a race weekend.
It's the student-athletes that are inspiring this national movement and it is you and all of us together that is bringing high school mountain biking to high school students. The benefits go beyond athletics; we are building core values in our students . . . strong minds, strong bodies and strong character in an equal and inclusive environment.
We wish you a great Thanksgiving holiday –
NICA Board President
Pre-order your official NICA gear today!
Mountain Hardwear Jackets and Backpacks – Pre Order Only!
Back by popular demand . . . but by pre-order only! While we don't have the budget to stock the various colors and sizes, we do want to make these popular and high quality league items available.
Pre-order a League Mountain Hardwear jacket and/or backpack! Athletic, wind resistant, water resistant, warm and cozy in hip, minimalist designs. Take a peak, and place your order.
These items are available by pre-order only. Pre-order ends Monday, December 5th, 2011 at Midnight. 100% of the proceeds benefit your League.
Click here to go to the store
Team Talk with Sean Ahmadi, Texas League Coach
Westlake Mountain Bike Team, in the middle of Austin, Texas, is a success story in the quickly-unfolding Texas High School Mountain Bike League. The league was fortunate to attract the attention of Sean Ahmadi, a coach who already was focusing on youth development, and the results have been very rapid. We talked to Sean, now the head coach of the Westlake Team, about his motives, triumphs and challenges.
What got you interested in doing this?
About 10 years ago, when one of my riders competed in Europe, I had an opportunity to look at the successful program running in Switzerland. I saw that they introduce the sport in elementary school and concentrate on nothing but skills and fun, then around middle school age they focus on teaching those kids how to train and work with coaches. Amazing program. I started thinking about starting a junior development program here, recruiting from local schools, but that’s easier said than done.
How has the response been from kids, parents and the school?
Amazing. I thought we would start with five or six kids, but now it looks like it may be 10 to 20. And it’s not only the kids that are participating. We have been getting tremendous help from some of the parents, too.
What are the main challenges you have and are facing?
Of course the main challenge is funding, since there are really no funds right now, and so everyone is volunteering their time. I am hoping to get sponsors on board to help with funding.
The school decided not to grant us Official Club status, but that has allowed us to have students from other schools in our team, which is a great way of spreading awareness of the program.
How is the team management coming together?
I am very lucky. Some of my racing team-mates have stepped up and so far I have six assistant coaches and ride leaders. The parents have also been tremendous help. There is no way I could have gotten through all the school-related paper work without their help. With all this help I feel very confident we will have a successful team.
Why is the Texas League important?
All the State Leagues are very important, it’s all about providing mountain biking opportunities to kids, no matter their skills or background. Texas is a big state with a huge mountain bike program, and can be a great contributor to cycling in the USA.
What have been your biggest rewards so far?
Of course its always a great reward when you are able to get someone riding and racing when they would otherwise not be able to afford it or enjoy it. I feel great every time I get an email or text about how one or another of my riders has improved in some area of biking. I love to see the sport grow. It has brought me lot of joy over the past 20 years and when I see more kids with THAT smile on their face after a hard fun ride or race I know they are hooked.
Freshman girls celebrate fun day of racing: 1st place, Ellie Welshon, Green Mountain Composite, 2nd place, Rae Lemon, Golden High School, 3rd place Lara Lufking, Pville Pedalers. Photo by Carrie Dittmer.
Colorado League Wraps Up Series With State Champs
The Colorado High School Cycling League wrapped up its second season on November 13 at the Ridgeline Rally. Twice postponed because of early snows, the finals were worth the wait, as riders praised the buff singletrack and spectators enjoyed seeing the progress that many riders made over the season.
All together 31 teams and 325 riders participated in the league’s sophomore season, doubling since last year.
The Championship race opened with a jazzy version of the national anthem sung by JV rider Annie Deveney from Salida Racing, but League Director Kate Rau was just glad to be there at all. "I am thrilled that everyone rallied. It's a miracle that we're able to celebrate the series with this championship race. Thanks to several local teams and the Castle Rock cycling community who mobilized to help clear snow off the north facing trail sections.”
NICA's Board President, Rick Spittler, was on hand as a roving course marshal. "The Colorado League has an incredibly strong base of support. The entire NICA office was watching the weather closely, hoping this race would happen."
Boulder High School and Vail Valley Composite won the season titles for Divisions 1 and 2, respectively.
Click here for the full race report.
Adam Craig guest of honor at 2011 NICA Awards
US Mountain Bike champion and Olympian Adam Craig will be the guest of honor at the 2011 NICA Awards banquet, January 14th, 2012. The event, hosted by the Clif Bar and Co. headquarters in Emeryville, CA, honors individuals that the Association considers to be the most outstanding athletes, the most dedicated coaches, and the most passionate volunteers to have supported high school mountain biking in the past 12 months as it progresses on its quest to reach from coast to coast by 2020.
Craig, who grew up in Maine, is a 2008 Olympian, and holder of 16 US national titles in cross country Mountain Biking, Cyclo-Cross and the Super D hybrid cross country/downhill event. He is on a quest to compete in the 2012 London Olympics Mountain Bike event and earn a coveted Olympic medal. He will talk about the highs and lows of his journey from high school athlete to his effort to make the US Olympic team for London 2012.
Craig said, “I first heard whisperings about the NorCal League when I landed in Oregon in 2003, and shortly thereafter saw the student mountain bikers at the Sea Otter Classic. But it wasn't until the world championships in 2008 that I truly realized the depth of talent coming through the ranks with (NorCal alum.) John Bennett's inclusion on our relay team, and then our subsequent rides together. I'm pumped for this opportunity to learn more about the NICA mission and those that support it across the spectrum, from the kids to the donors and everyone who works hard in between.”
To view the list of awards presented at last year's event, go to 2010 NICA Awards.
For more information on the 2011 NICA Awards and to purchase tickets, go to NICA Awards.
Upcoming Webinar: How to Start and Manage a High School Mountain Bike Team
Join NICA for an online "webinar" titled How to Start and Manage a High School Mountain Bike Team. This webinar is a great starting place for new coaches or for individuals looking to start a new high school mountain bike team. Matt Gunnell, the director of the SoCal League and a former high school mountain bike team coach, will lead the webinar. Participants will learn about different club formats, coaching philosophies, a timeline for club formation and other guidelines for successful team management.
Who: Anyone interested in getting involved with high school mountain biking
What: How to Start and Manage a High School Mountain Bike Team
When: Thursday, December 1st at 5:30 PM PST
How: Register Here! (cost is free)