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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Sell me on the benefits of NICA affiliation

    Hi all, I'm seeking success stories and tangible benefits of NICA affiliation over other "grassroots" cycling opportunities for kids. I'm struggling to convince other local volunteers/voices that is "worth it."

    I've watched a few informational webinars about bid process etc and exchanged emails with NICA employees. I've personally visited NICA races in CO and AR.

    Backstory: In addition to my own racing, I've been USAC race director for 15+ years, and promote 5-8 events each year as our state series. Our area has a grassroots youth devo program in the summer, with which I am a volunteer coach (I'm an imba l2 instructor). Couple years ago, we started hosting USAC 5 mtb races in the fall specifically/only for high school (and now middle school) kids. Some teachers (who are also riders) formed teams at their school, organize group rides as practices, and encourage kids to show up and race the 5 USAC high school races. No one is paid-- its low budget, volunteer driven, each race costs $10 if you sign up en masse with a team, or $20 if you sign up as a lone wolf-- ie, its very affordable and designed to "break even." NEarly all 60+ kids involved buy a $35 junior USAC license.

    Volunteer teachers/coaches track and aggregate points and recognize top achieving teams at the end of fall season.

    So for $35 license, and $50, a kid gets 5 insured races held under USAC permit. Thanks to some donations, medals are given out at each race and trophies at end of year. Coaching time is entirely donated, and coaches are either teachers already or submit to affordable background check, also funded by local sponsor.

    Aspirationally, we want to join NICA, but don't want to take a "step back" from what we've built, nor do we want to raise & spend a bunch of money to essentially do what we are already doing (?).

    So, for a group of race promoters/volunteers like us, tell me the value of joining NICA? I do believe it will be a positive step but I struggle to articulate the value to skeptical volunteers who are nervous about more money being spent to accomplish same stuff?

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    State Championship maybe? Sounds like you have a pretty good thing going there.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    I suggest you contact the directors of the Michigan (MiSCA) and Washington scholastic leagues for additional input. NICA has well structured program and excel in helping to develop scholastic leagues but it may not be a fit for everyone.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Pure disclaimer, I am a Dad that has a son on a NICA Mtb team that has had wonderful experience with NICA. I am not a race director, coach or administrator, these are my observations as a user.

    In our area USAC mtb races are $40 + 1 time license for the Junior categories. NICA is $55 per race I think. Similar cost wise.

    NICA is a 5 race fall sport for us. USAC and 3 hour endurance races are spring/summer, so you can do both.

    The NICA races are "set-up" a little nicer. More tape marking the course, start, finish, etc.. That could all be up to the race director or part of the package. I think some of that really helps the beginners.

    In our state NICA races will be 600+ kids. Most of the USAC/other races are in the 300 total including all ages. Last race we did had 40-50ish in the Junior individual/team categories out of the 300+ people racing. It sounds like your USAC races are HS/MS only so this does not apply.

    Thus NICA is a much bigger scene, especially with parents spectating. Also, since NICA is only kids, the environment is much less competitive than the all ages races, which is more inviting for beginners. There are way more girls racing NICA than USAC.

    Some of the USAC and NICA events are at the same trails and generally the same set-up from a course toughness for the Junior Events. But NICA is so big here that the event site has to be able to handle 500+ cars, 1000 people etc.. USAC runs at smaller trail complexes.

    Also, if you are trying to sell this as a High School Club sport to High Schools, then NICA has some structure that might help. For instance, they have concussion training, level 1-3 coach’s licenses, background checks, protocols for always having 2 adults around, and other sanctioning requirements. They have online tools that manage all of the above. I think we have 48 teams, half affiliated with a HS the other half composite teams. So this structure helps manage that scale.

    In our state, NICA runs 2 coaches clinics on how to start a team, how to recruit riders, how to run a practice, and how to teach skills.

    Last, all NICA does is High School Mountain biking. USAC runs Crits, Cross, Enduro, XC races. I assume, if you establish a chapter, NICA would be interested in making sure it has longevity, after the founders are gone.

    Some food for thought. USAC may have all of this.

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