THREE WEEKS LEFT! Wow! The SoCal Finals are this weekend, State Championships is in just over two weeks, and that's it! A few fun rides, thanking spo


Coaching high fives at the Hog Canyon Classic! -Photo by Phil Beckman


Wow! The SoCal Finals are this weekend, State Championships is in just over two weeks, and that's it! A few fun rides, thanking sponsors, maybe a BBQ with team recognition, and the 2012 season will only be a memory!

While everyone is in the home stretch for the 2012 season I know some are already looking ahead toward 2013 and beyond. To that end, here are some things to think about before everyone goes their separate ways for the summer:

Composite clubs: Are you spinning off single school clubs for 2013? Start thinking about who will coach those clubs, what families from your existing clubs will be helping out, and have you made contact with your schools? Don't forget that it's absolutely fine to have clubs practice together! If you've put together a good rhythm and structure within the composite club there's no reason why you can't repurpose much of it while simultaneously putting clubs on campus where the kids intuitively know that they are competing for "their school."
New coaches: Do you have moms, dads, or supporters who look like they're ready to jump in and become coaches? Remember that you don't need to be an expert level rider to be a fantastic coach! Start marking your calendars for the fall 2012 Leaders' Summit (tentatively scheduled for October 20-21 and hosted by Hemet High School) and Wilderness First Aid (tentatively scheduled for December 8-9 and hosted by St. Francis High School.
Alumni: It's awesome to see SoCal League alumni staying involved. Some are involved in cycling at the collegiate level, some at the professional level, and some at the COACHING level. Our alumni are extremely valuable to us on so many levels. We hope they will stay involved in cycling. If you have graduating seniors who you see as leaders, encourage them to stay involved. While it's not realistic to think that all will stay involved with your clubs we have several SoCal teams where alumni are now coaching. With NICA expanding across the country, there's a strong chance that there will be a high school club nearby. Encourage interested alumni to contact either SoCal or their local league about getting involved. Several NICA staff members have come from the ranks of NorCal alumni and we can always use dedicated alumni who want to get involved in race logistics. You never know what might come out of it down the road.
Outreach Tour: The League will be having a multi-stop outreach tour the last week of May. More to come soon but this is a great chance for people interested in starting clubs to come out and ask questions.

But first we have two more great high school races...

See you in the Dirt Zone!

Matt Gunnell
SoCal League Director


Coaches meeting at Keyesville. Before the rain came. -Photo by Phil Beckman


I have heard from several coaches over the last few weeks in regards to challenging coaching situations. Remember the slide at Leaders' Summit? "I bet you didn't think you were signing up to be a youth worker."

As much as we just want to go out and ride mountain bikes, there's much more to being a COACH than that. We are dealing with teenagers trying to find their way in the world, trying to create or find an identity, and trying to learn or improve in a sport. All of that is set against the backdrop of challenging economic times, widely different family tapestries, physical and emotional limitations, and hormonal changes. We're truly helping to guide 9th graders --- who are barely more than children --- into graduating 12th graders --- who are adults that can vote, drive, and join the military.

First know that you are not alone! It is exceedingly rare to have a group of teens for any period of time without having to address behavioral issues! However, you have many resources at hand that you should tap into. Many issues are addressed in the NICA (NorCal) Coaching Manual. Periodically refer back to it. The Facebook Coach Zone is a great resource. It's rare to see a question asked go unanswered by several experienced coaches. NICA webinars are becoming a more robust resource which will continue to develop. If you haven't looked at the Positive Coaching Alliance website you should. There are so many powerful resources there and they are a great NICA partner. And finally, this is the time to think ahead to next year. As clubs move forward, coaches learn from their experiences and put things into play (including rider participation contracts) that will help to prevent as many issues as possible.

No plan is foolproof but we are a vital community of youth development workers with a vast pool of experience. Reach out and tap in! It's not just about the bike.


The infield is tight but the course and views at Pinnacles are incredible! -Photo by Phil Beckman


Power the Pinnacles (aka SoCal Series Finals) is this weekend! Please review the notes below:

Tight Venue: For those who were at Pinnacles last year you KNOW the venue is extremely tight. It will only be tighter this year. In anticipation you can help us and your clubs be advising them of a few key points:
* Venue in the parking is limited and will be filled early and then locked down until after all the racing is finished. If you park in the venue you will not be able to get out.
* Please have people carpool as much as possible. Even if this means parking on the road a ways from the venue and taking fewer cars into the venue.
* We will have one Suburban and one pickup truck to help shuttle people and equipment in. Look for the vehicles with "SoCal Shuttle" on the sides.
* Parking volunteers are YOUR riders' parents and will be doing their best. Please encourage patience.
* When parking fills we will put a sign at the highway noting the lot is full. We can't close the road so look for the signs. If it's full, it's full. Driving up and clogging the road will only lead to traffic jams and frustration.
* Please have the vehicle bringing equipment to the Pit Zone park in the venue if possible.
* Pit Zone drop offs will have to be quick. Drop and park.

Volunteers: the clubs assigned to staff this race are St. Francis, Woodcrest, Rim of the World, Victor Valley, and Santa Ynez . If you are from those clubs PLEASE go to the volunteer registration page and sign up. We need "all hands" to build Saturday morning and take down at race end Sunday afternoon. Special needs for this race are course marshals and Sunday morning parking.

Staging and start: Staging takes place on the Willow Creek Jeep Trail just below the infield. Access to staging is down through a grassy gully just past the built in outhouse in the Pit Zone. Due to the fact the start takes place on a road we will be staging 4 across. Please pay attention to stagers and let your riders know not to crowd staging or attempt to move forward past people waiting. Staging for a field can begin 15 minutes ahead of that field's start time.

Coaches meeting: one representative coach from each team for a 9:00 am meeting. Listen for an announcement about location.

Awards: Because this is the final race of the SoCal Series we will be giving out race day awards as well as season overall awards for both individual riders and teams. Additionally, we will take our traditional photo of all the graduating seniors as well as (for the first time ever) a photo of the graduating seniors who have raced all 4 years of high school!


State Champs is big! -Photo by Phil Beckman


State Championships will again be hosted by the SoCal League on Sunday May 20th at the Dirt Club near Los Olivos. State Champs is open to qualified riders from both the NorCal and SoCal Leagues. In 2011 the race featured over 450 student-athletes.

We will need all the help we can get to pull this race off as it's likely to be twice as big as the biggest race in SoCal this year. As hosts, we want to show NorCal that we can put on a top flight event. We did last year and we can do it again! With State Champs scheduled to be hosted by NorCal in 2013 and 2014 this is our last chance put impress before SoCal hosts again in 2015 and 2016.

The race flyer and course map with information on qualifying for and registering for (NO ONSITE REGISTRATION) the race are on the RACE PAGE while the volunteer registration page is HERE. If you are a coach or parent coming please try to take time to sign up for at least one volunteer position.


Dillen Maurer of Crescenta Valley won a Specialized Student-Athlete Leadership Award in 2011. Who will win awards for 2012?


The NICA Annual Awards were established in 2010 to honor those individuals, student-athletes, coaches, volunteers and partners that have made outstanding contributions toward the development of high school cycling and the national high school mountain biking movement.

We are constantly inspired by the tremendous commitment of our student-athletes, dedicated coaches, and passionate volunteers that form our close-knit and dynamic community. The NICA Annual Awards are a means of formally recognizing the tremendous contributions the individuals that have been made in the name high school cycling and the national high school mountain biking movement.

Please take the time to look through the NICA Award pages and make nominations for those who you think best represent NICA ideals in 2012!


The SoCal League has a coach and staff only facebook group. Since it launched near the start of the 2011 season, coaches have been sharing ideas and information and the League has used the group to put timely information out to coaches. We strongly encourage you to join if you facebook! The group can be found HERE. Please feel free to use this group as a touchstone to share coaching ideas, coaching questions, and equipment and clothing exchanges.

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