LAS VEGAS, Nev.—Three more states have joined the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), bringing the high school mountain biking organization closer to its goal of having leagues in all states by 2020.
NICA Executive Director Doug Selee announced Thursday at the Interbike cycling trade show that New York, Tennessee and Arizona now join seven other states in the association, which promotes the development of “strong body, strong mind and strong character” in student athletes via cross-country mountain bike racing.
Through its program, NICA provides comprehensive training for coaches and volunteers, as well as technical assistance and support for team formation, races and camps. Seven states already have student racers on the trail this year: NorCal, SoCal, Colorado, Washington, Utah, Minnesota and Texas. The association has a goal of “going coast to coast” by 2020, says Selee.
According to NICA programs manager Chris Spencer, one of the strongest points about the high school mountain biking league is that, compared to ball-and-stick sports, it is not exclusive. All racers earn points for their team and no one is cut. In Utah and Minnesota—two states that were accepted in 2012—60 percent of student cyclists had never mountain biked before. Their season launched just weeks ago with the fall semester.
“That really shows what we’re about. Nobody gets put on the bench,” Spencer said.
NICA also is poised to effectively capture a segment of the population that even large companies in the cycling world struggle to enfold: the female rider. Girls now make up 25 percent of the 1,600 NICA athletes on 200 teams across the U.S.
Whether a student is learning to ride and race mountain bikes or has been exposed to the sport already, Seele says the value of being part of a team is invaluable.
“The confidence that it builds, especially at that age, will last them a whole lifetime,” Seele said.
For more information, visit www.nationalmtb.org