DIRECTOR'S NOTE Now that June is coming to a close it's a sure thing that virtually all of you with kids find them out of school and the final team g

Now that June is coming to a close it's a sure thing that virtually all of you with kids find them out of school and the final team gatherings are a month gone by. The weather is heating up and summer school has begun in many cases. Some of you last saw your athletes around State Champs while some of you still see your athletes frequently as you ride the same trails and race the same off season races. I just returned from the largest ever high school mountain bike camp where 42 kids from SoCal, NorCal, and Washington along with 12 coaches from the same three leagues spent 5 days being challenged to expand their mountain biking horizons on the incredible UC Santa Cruz campus. If you ever have the opportunity to coach at a residential mountain biking camp I highly recommend it!

With the conclusion of the racing season also comes the conclusion of the high school mountain biking season. NICA training limits for a spring league state that a club may begin pre-season practice no earlier than October 15 and end no later than 2 weeks after the State Championships (essentially the end of May). Though the temptation can sometimes be there, please remember that any organized practices under the guise of your high school club could lead to serious consequences. Unfortunately, in some cases, even casual rides with coaches and club members could be confused as organized practices by parents and student-athletes. Please be sure that student-athletes and their parents know that any "off season" riding is outside of the League, outside of the high school club, and not insured by NICA. If you simply can't get enough and you want to form a club where kids can ride and race in the "off season" it must be done through another sanctioning body and you cannot compel student-athletes to ride on it as a condition of their "in season" club membership. There are plenty of outside clubs and races out there that you can inform your student-athletes about while reserving the high school clubs for high school races.

At the end of the racing season we conducted a survey to determine your opinions on race venues, race courses, and the race calendar. When asked if you would support a 5 race SoCal Series in 2012 (it was a 4 race series this season) the overwhelming response was "yes." Because of this we are tentatively planning a 5 race series and, with State Champs in SoCal in 2012, we will be hosting 6 high school races next spring. The tentative dates are up on the SoCal website at and the opener is currently scheduled for Vail Lake on Sunday February 26th. Racers would still get the opportunity to "drop" one race meaning they would be scored on their best 4 of 5 races for individual standings.

SoCal coaches give a lot of their time, energy, and wisdom. We want to try to repay that in a small way by hosting our first ever Coaches Retreat tentatively scheduled for the weekend of September 10-11. This will be on a space available basis and open to returning licensed SoCal coaches. It will be modeled on the retreat NorCal has been hosting for several years now. Essentially, it will be a time for coaches to get together and ride and share cameraderie. We are currently looking for a venue. Ideally it will be very reasonably priced and close to good trails. We can't guarantee it will be at no cost but the idea is for the League to cover at least a chunk of the cost. Please contact Matt Gunnell at if you have a line in to a location. Ideally we will open it up to arrival on Friday evening September 9th, ride all day Saturday, ride Sunday morning, and wrap by Sunday after lunch.

The 2011 SoCal Leaders' Summit and Wilderness First Aid-MTB have been scheduled. Leaders' Summit will take place in Riverside the weekend of October 15-16. We are excited to announce that Lee McCormack, all around skills ninja, will be giving an updated version of the NICA skills class on the League pump track. Look for registration to open over the next few months but save the date now if you need to or want to attend. Our next WFA-MTB course is scheduled for the weekend of December 10-11 with venue TBD.

On the off chance you are traveling or simply want a change of scenery; you may take your Leaders' Summit and/or WFA-MTB courses with any NICA league. Look for courses being offered in NorCal, Colorado, Washington, and Texas this year!

There are several composite clubs (clubs made up of student-athletes from more than one school) and two scoring rules that pertain only to composite clubs. The first rule took effect this year. That rule was that a composite club with 5 riders from any one school would have that school scored separately for team scoring. That rule pertains to all composite clubs and, pending any rule changes at the NICA level, is likely to remain in place.

The second rule took affect last year (spring 2010) but its first real affect begins next season (spring 2012). That rule states that a rider may only score for a composite club for two years. This means that any rider who scored for a composite club in 2010 and 2011 can't score for the club in 2012. The affect of this is that those riders entering their third season with a composite club in 2012 will be scored as independent riders at races (it has no affect on their ability to practice and be insured with the club). If you coach a composite club that had its first season in 2011 this rule has no affect on you. However, if you remain a composite club for 2013, it will have an affect as you will likely have riders who will be entering their third season racing with the club.

These rules are not designed to penalize the hard work coaches do with composite clubs. They are, however, designed to help give composite clubs direction and timelines to help them plan on how to "spin off" single school clubs. As we are working toward the goal of single school clubs (so we will look more like other sports on campus), composite clubs are a stepping stone in that direction and are not to be looked at as the "end game" but as a temporary solution.

If you are the coach of a composite club and you have questions on how various composite club scenarios might play out, please don't hesitate to contact Matt Gunnell at for advice.

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. 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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