So You Want To Start A Team This month we'd like to introduce you to Michael Eastwood, Director of Team/Coaching Development. Mike is based in Charlo

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Mike Eastwood and the Lake Norman Charter Mountain Biking Club. Is this one of the first NICA teams in North Carolina? Maybe....but it looks like they are having fun!

So You Want To Start A Team

This month we'd like to introduce you to Michael Eastwood, Director of Team/Coaching Development. Mike is based in Charlotte NC and works as a High School counselor and is currently working through the process of starting a NICA team at his school. Mike's passion for cycling and his experience in team formation as a school "insider" makes him a great resource for all the prospective coaches out there. - Mike Long

Here at the the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling Association (NCICA) we are excited for the league kick off next Fall. In the meantime we are busy at work behind the scenes to get everything ready for an exciting inaugural season. As we hit the dirt to spread the word about our league we’ve been getting a lot of interest and some great questions. I wanted to take a minute here to address one of the most common questions we’ve been getting: How do I start a team?

As the Director of Coaching/Team Development, I’m your go to guy here at NCICA. But, I’m not just the director, I’m a coach too! So let me share with you how I’ve started a “team” at my school, as well as some tips on organizing a team at your student’s school ahead of the start of our league.

I work as a high school counselor, and students quickly recognized that I was a rider, the mountain bike on the back of my vehicle in the school lot was a dead giveaway. Conversations and questions about mountain biking eventually gave way to students asking to start a mountain biking club at school. Having student interest is certainly the driving force of creating a club at any school. After determining the steps necessary to establish a club, I had a conversation with our Athletic Director regarding our league status and what that might mean for the school and the athletic department. Although our budget is tight, I am fortunate that my AD is supportive and willing to treat our team like any other sport interested in getting budgetary consideration.

With the NCICA league not yet up and running, our club is focused on social rides and engaging in both educational and service opportunities. The goal of this year is to get students aware of, and involved with, the club so that they will take ownership and be the driving force of club activities as the league takes off next year.

The idea of having a mountain bike team may be foreign to many schools and administrators, so start by speaking their language and within their system. To that point, your focus should be to start a club, or student organization, at your student’s school and not a team just yet (team activities will not yet fall under the protection of NCICA and NICA until next year). So your first steps to developing a team should be to:

1. Explore student interest - Although I certainly wanted to establish a team at my school, the development of our club was student driven. Having a student driven push to start a club will be the most effective way to get school support, so have your student look into the steps they need to take to create a club (procedure, required number of participants, etc.) and see who they may get as a faculty advisor.
2. Connect with your school - I have a bit of an advantage on this one as I work as a high school counselor. But, the best way to get school buy in is to align with a faculty member or administrator at your student’s school. Naturally, it would be nice to have someone on staff who already rides, but that is not a must have, all you need is someone who is willing to support our students.
3. Where you fit in - Think about how involved you want to be in this process. Are you a parent looking for a team for your student to join, are you interested in coaching a team, or helping out in a supportive role with a team or league? Whatever capacity you are comfortable with at this point - you are on the right track by subscribing to our newsletters as these will provide important information for keeping you on track as we work to get more kids on bikes here in NC. For those of you interested in coaching, you can reach out to me to me at to make sure you are on the email list for the Coaches Newsletter that will guide you through the steps to becoming a coach with NCICA/NICA.
4. Reach out to me with questions - I am here to help you throughout the process. I can answer questions, help problem solve, and hopefully help you make connections with others in your area who are also interested in setting up a team.

One important thing to remember: Our league is not yet an active league in the sense of functioning under the protection of NICA. So please be aware that you, or the school you work with, will be liable for team activities prior to the start of the NCICA league next year - so working within the guidelines of a school club/organization may be your best bet this year.

Now all that being said, a school based team is not the only way to form a team. You can form a composite team that covers a geographic area, homeschooled student-athletes can form homeschool teams, and if no team is available nearby, riders can race as an Independent.

Michael Eastwood
Director of Team/Coaching Development

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Dirt Tour Charlotte

Charlotte gets the “dirt” on what NICA is up to in North Carolina!

The Dirt Tour recently saddled up, clipped in and began its trek around North Carolina to introduce the NC Interscholastic Cycling League prior to the start of mountain bike racing in the spring of 2017.

It made its first stop at the REI in Charlotte on Saturday November 21. Approximately 25 people interested in the new NC League were in attendance to learn what the League is all about, how teams are started, how coaches, assistant coaches and volunteers are trained and certified and how much fun middle and high school mountain bike racing can be for everyone involved.

The presentation and interactive meeting was led by Mike Long, co-director of the NC League, with contributions from a number of members of the NC Executive Team. Attendees raised a lot of questions covering many aspects of the League and there was plenty of time to answer them all.

One attendee, John from the Asheville area, said,

“The Tour is coming to my area in April of next year but I was too excited to wait so I made the trip to Charlotte for this one. It was great, it covered all of the areas I was hoping it would and all my questions were answered. I’m headed back home to get the conversation going to get a team started. This is going to be a really great thing for middle and high school kids in NC, and for the adults that join in.”

The Dirt Tour is on the move again and coming to a town near you soon. Next stop will be Brevard on December 12th at the Transylvania County Library starting at 2 PM. Come on out and see what it’s all about! Can’t make this stop in Brevard? Find a Dirt Tour stop near by you on our website.

The Dirt Tour was brought to you by

Don't see your town on the tour? Don't fret, we'll come to you. Email Mark Gordon, League Program Director at

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