As we approach the end of 2012, the NICA team is reflecting on the tremendous growth we’ve seen in high school cycling this past year. Not only did we see impressive participant numbers for our new leagues in Texas, Utah and Minnesota (more than 400 student athletes), we also added leagues in Arizona, Tennessee, and New York to our roster. On the basis of the success of our new leagues and solid growth among our existing leagues, we anticipate substantial growth in 2013. We currently have nearly 800 licensed coaches and we’re projecting a 20-30 percent increase in student athletes next year, which would bring us to a total of more than 3,000 student athletes. Wow!
On a somber note, the media has recently reported a culture of systematic doping amongst many in the pro ranks of cycling. It saddens me that a number of implicated athletes have been honored guests at past NICA-League events. We support the suspension of these athletes from competition and encourage all implicated riders to contribute to efforts to break the culture of doping in our sport.
Here at NICA, we are committed to doing everything we can to prevent student athletes from falling into the trap of performance-enhancing drugs. NICA celebrates athletic achievement at all levels, but we place more value on strong personal character than we do on winning races. In the coming year, we will be working with our supporters to provide our NICA coaches with a curriculum to encourage further discussion with student athletes about making smart decisions that reinforce clean sport. We value the health and happiness of our athletes over winning at the cost of cheating.
Finally, I sincerely thank the dedicated League Directors, NICA staff, volunteers, and our many supporters and sponsors who are helping NICA provide the best youth cycling program in the country. I am excited for 2013 and look forward to working with participants and contributors as we grow NICA from coast to coast.
Austin McInerny | Executive Director
Thank you National Level Sponsors!
Just four short years ago there were only two NICA leagues: NorCal and SoCal, both with Spring racing seasons. Now with ten leagues in nine states, shared equally between Spring and Fall racing seasons, NICA is flying at warp speed all year-long.
The 2012 season ended with over 2,000 student athletes and approximately 800 coaches. This is a considerable growth from the four students on the first Berkeley High School team in 1998. We are looking forward to the 2013 season, which we anticipate will bring 3,000 student athletes and 1,000 coaches to the trails.
To support our leagues, NICA continues to develop groundbreaking programs and curriculum. We seek to incorporate the latest risk management strategies to achieve current best practices while also innovating creative programs and curriculum. We believe it is the constant development that keeps NICA and its leagues at the forefront of the high-school mountain biking movement.
All of this growth, new programming, and hard work by the NICA staff is possible because of the amazing support from our National Sponsors. We would like to thank them, and ask in turn that you support those sponsors that have made this monumental high school mountain bike movement happen.
A huge thanks to: founding national sponsor Specialized Bicycle Components, as well as Sho-Air, Easton Foundations, JEEP, SRAM, Trek Bicycles, Clif Bar & Company, Primal Wear, QBP, GU Sports, Kinetic, Maxxis, adidas Eyewear, CamelBak, Dirt Rag, Feedback Sports, Fort Lewis College, Fox Racing Shox, Mountain Bike Action, Ritchey Designs, Sidi America and WTB.
2012 NICA Annual Awards: January 12th at Specialized Headquarter with Olympian Todd Wells
The NICA Awards were established in 2010 to honor annually those individuals, student-athletes, coaches, volunteers, and partners who 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 who form our close-knit and dynamic community. The NICA Annual Awards are a means of formally recognizing the tremendous contributions that those individuals have made in the name of high school cycling and the national high-school mountain biking movement.
Please join NICA for a special evening to honor the 2012 NICA Award recipients at Specialized Bicycle Components’ world headquarters with guest host, six-time National Champion, and three-time Olympian Todd Wells.
For more information and/or to purchase tickets click here.
League Director Interview
Jason Cairo, the League Director of the New York High School Cycling League, is breaking new ground by bringing the NICA movement to the East Coast. New York is far away from the first NICA League in Northern California and is a huge step towards fulfilling NICA’s goal of going coast-to-coast by 2020. New York could not have picked a more enthusiastic spirit for the job: Jason is a bike shop owner, family man, and heck of a skilled rider. We asked Jason a couple questions to learn more about how he got involved with NICA and why the New York League is going to rock the East Coast.
Q: How did you first hear about NICA?
Jason: I heard about NICA from Gregg Galleta, a customer whom I ride with. I take odd jobs in the winter (slow time for the bike shop) to make some extra moolah. After a few meetings with Gregg, I was introduced to Sammy Bryant from Adidas. Sammy filled me in on what NICA was all about and I was instantly excited to hear what Sammy had to say. As a bike shop owner and racer, I was always curious about starting a bike league for kids, but I never knew how to get started. I soon connected with NICA and started the bid process to become a new league. I’ve pulled a lot of support from friends and the cycling community and here we are, first race scheduled for Spring of 2013.
Brad Didier is a coach who’s actively involved in the Texas League. He also coached at the NorCal 2012 Invitational Camp, taught at Leaders’ Summits, and touched many of us in the NICA community through a video his team put together about their first year with the League. I have bet many people to watch the video tear-free, and to date, have never lost this bet (watch video here). Brad’s enthusiasm is contagious and inspiring.
Q: How would you summarize your first season?
Brad: I would summarize our first season as a huge success. None of us really knew what we were doing or what to expect. We were able to reach a group of students that otherwise would have never been involved with any extracurricular activities at school. This proved to be very important, as the team provided an opportunity for kids to thrive. We got together a group of coaches that love to cycle and love working with kids.
The Utah High School Cycling League surpassed many people’s expectations in 2012. From overall rider participation, coach participation, to even the speed and competitive levels of the riders. The first year of the Utah Cycling League was quite impressive. Although the numbers and results are fun to look at, the core of what makes the Utah League so successful is the individuals who participate in it. Said (pronounced sah eed) Hirsi is one of those individuals whose story speaks volumes to how the Utah League has impacted its local community.
Said move to Utah from Nairobi, Kenya with his mom and sister when he was 10 years old. Said’s played football in his freshman year, but when he transferred to another high school in Utah, he discovered mountain biking. As a sophomore, Said was one of seven riders on the high school’s mountain bike team. In addition to mountain biking, Said plays basketball and is a teachers aid for a class called Outdoor Lifestyles. We asked Said some questions to learn more about his story and how he became involved in the Utah High School Cycling League.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in the Utah High School Cycling League?
Said: My name is Said Hirsi. I'm from Nairobi, Kenya and I have been in the United States for approximately six years. I got involved with the Utah High School Cycling League through Mr.Eaton Cavett at my school, the Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE). I had heard about it before but when I asked him he told me exactly where to go.