As many of you already know, Matt Fritzinger has transitioned out of his role as Executive Director here at NICA. Matt is currently on a three-month sabbatical, and upon returning he will work in a different capacity on some special projects. Below are some words from Doug Selee, NICA’s new Executive Director.
Doug Selee, NICA's new Executive Director, on a recent bike ride.
Hi- I'm Doug Selee, the New Executive Director recently hired by the Board of Directors to keep NICA moving forward. I started in mid-July, and I've been working with the staff and volunteer leadership here at NICA to ensure a smooth transition.
Cycling is a huge part of my life and a true passion developed over the years. My cycling background is recreational- and fitness-oriented. I’ve been riding bikes forever, but I became serious about it as a lifestyle about 6 years ago. I was looking for a challenging, fun sport to keep fit and learn new skills. I needed something with less impact than basketball to stay in shape. Although when I had my first endo on Mount Diablo, I realized that there can be some impact in mountain biking, too! But I got up, straightened my handlebars, and rode down the rest of the mountain, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Professionally, I have been fortunate to work for several top-notch non-profits, including the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society (ACS). I spent over sixteen years at ACS, my last fourteen there were as the vice president of operations for California. More recently, I started Shifting Gears, a private non-profit consulting company, while working on my MBA in Global Innovation from California State University East Bay.
Thanks for your support of NICA. You will be hearing much more from me in the coming months as we look to launch three new leagues at Interbike. I look forward to working and riding with you!
Doug Selee | New Executive Director
The whole NICA family in Santa Cruz for the 2012 NICA Conference.
NICA National Conference
The inaugural NICA National Conference took place June 28-July 1 in Santa Cruz, California. This event has previously been an annual League Director's Conference, but this year, we expanded the concept to include student athletes, NICA and league staff, board members, coaches, and consultants from around the USA.
The main aim of the conference was team-building and development of the NICA community. A special feature of this year’s event was the celebration of NICA founder, Matt Fritzinger, who recently stepped down from his position of executive director to pursue special projects for the association.
The conference extended over four days and included social activities, educational sessions,
sharing of information and points of view, and of course lots of mountain bike riding. The mix of
activities provided excellent opportunities to build relationships between people who work closely over the phone and internet but seldom meet in person. Many attendees thought the most worthwhile of the sessions was one that enabled them to connect with student athletes, while the highlight of the social calendar was the party in honor of Matt Fritzinger.
One of the key events was an open meeting of the NICA board, which took place on Sunday, so that conference attendees could observe a national meeting and at times participate by asking questions or making statements.
The venue for next year's National Conference has not yet been set, but on the basis of this year’s success, we anticipate that it will likely be an even bigger event.
Here (PDF) is a pictorial essay of the conference.
Garrett and Kelsay Lundberg
Student Spotlight on Garrett & Kelsay Lundberg, Colorado League
One of the most popular features of NICA leagues is that they are co-ed. In Salida, Colorado, Garrett Lundberg and his younger sister Kelsay have been having a great time riding together for their high school team, Salida Racing.
We spoke to Garrett, who graduated this year.
Who started racing first?
I was the first one to start competitively racing about a year and a half ago.
Who encouraged you to start high school mountain bike racing?
My dad and mom were really big inspiration for us to start mountain biking. They love to ride and always took Kelsay and me riding to Moab, Durango and all around the great trails in our backyard around Salida.
Do you two compare notes about your races?
I analyze a lot more than she does but she makes sure I have fun.
What’s it like being siblings on a school mountain bike team?
It was a lot of fun to race and just be on a team with her. Mountain biking is unique in that we both got to be on the same team. We enjoyed training together and then coming home and talking and laughing about everything that happened—epic rides, flats, crashes, etc. There are only good things in being on the same team!
How long have you been mountain biking?
I have been riding since I was about 4 and Kelsay since she was around 3, because I was there to help her. She likes to hum, sing and talk as she rides and I just want to ride.
Do you two have any other sporting experience?:
I was a big swimmer (Salida Cyclones) and runner before I discovered mountain biking. I also played basketball and have always liked outdoor sports like fly fishing and backpacking. Kels swam on the same team, played soccer, and enjoys the same outdoor adventures as the rest of our family. She has gills and loves anything in the water.
What do you like most about high school mtb racing?
I like the team atmosphere and just how we all bonded together and were supportive no matter what the caliber of racing. We both like the positive energy of our awesome coaches and all the other riders. We like camping before the races and encouraging other friends to just ride and have fun competing too!
What are the biggest challenges for you in mountain bike racing?
Garrett: “The descents and nutrition have haunted me but I have been working hard on improving them.” Kelsay: “Endurance--pushing myself to mentally finish the race with a good attitude. I can be physically tired, but it is different than when I just want to finish the race and I have to push myself mentally.”
Who would you recommend high school mountain bike racing to?
Everyone. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are, the mountain biking community really supports new riders, plus it kicks butt and the chicks dig it! Just RIDE, especially with your high school team, it will rock your world!!
Utah League's East High School recruiting on the school campus.
Utah, Minnesota, & Colorado Seasons Commence in September
While Colorado is about to commence its third season of racing, with upwards of three hundred and fifty riders expected to participate, Minnesota and Utah are getting ready for their inaugural seasons. We spoke with the founding chairs, Gary Sjoquist of Minnesota and Lori Harward of Utah, to see what’s going well and what challenges they face.
Minnesota is up to speed for its inaugural series starter on September 9. Following more than a year of diligent preparation, Gary expects two hundred student-athletes spread across fifteen teams. Most rewarding of all the league's work so far for Gary has been bringing newcomers into the sport. "We host 'Try It Out' sessions where youth who have never tried mountain biking are given a bike and helmet to ride on beginner single track trail. Earlier this week, after her first ride, as she got into her mother's car, I overheard a 15-year old say ’Mom - it was awesomely cool.’ This is when you know you've created something that impacts youth," said Gary.
Although Minnesota is known as a cycling-friendly state, the main challenge for the league remains getting the word out. "The Twin Cities is a very rich "ball and stick" sports town, with four major league sports and a long history as the "state" of hockey," Gary tells us.
The Minnesota series is four races, running September 9 - October 28. For more information, visit www.minnesotamtb.org.
In Utah, Lori Harward has been enjoying unprecedented success in grassroots fundraising as well
outstanding results in school and student-athlete recruitment. She expects up to thirty teams at her season opener, and between two hundred and fifty and three hundred students.
“It’s tremendous to see so many kids get totally excited about biking! And the communities have come together to support the league. Thirty-two bikes have been donated to the league so far, and we have received $9,000 in scholarship funds through grant and personal donations to facilitate our core principle of inclusivity and providing any under-privileged students with the opportunity to participate in our program,” reports Lori.
With a strong team to handle event production, and a raft of good coaches, Lori is feeling confident that everything will be in place by the race on September 8, the first event of her four-race series. “NICA has done such a great job of training all of us that the preparation has gone really great. I foresee our growth presenting some possible challenges, but with NICA’s guidance I am sure we will handle those smoothly and effectively.”
The Utah series runs September 8 - October 20. For more information visit www.utahmtb.org.