West Virginia will become the newest state league in the growing National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), the national governing body for interscholastic mountain biking in the United States.
West Virginia League Director Cassie Smith said, “West Virginia becoming one of NICA’s newest cycling leagues is a dream come true! Mountain biking is a sport near and dear to my heart, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to work with NICA to spread the excitement of mountain biking to young people and their families throughout the mountain state. NICA is a unique youth development organization with programs that focus on inclusivity, equality, and building strong mind, strong body, and strong character. Student-athletes in all areas of West Virginia will have the opportunity to learn healthy living through mountain biking. I would like to thank the West Virginia League’s founding team, Kristen Dieffenbach, Tim Gregis, Zoe Morris, Bradley Schmalzer, Jeff Smith, Phillip Waidner, and Steve Worden for your dedication to this effort. Without your help, it would not have been possible.”
Austin McInerny, president of NICA, said, “We are very excited and honored to be working with the talented West Virginia League’s founding team to expand youth mountain biking programs to the mountainous east-central United States. While historically known for its its coal industry, West Virginia is going to see an explosion of cycling as we work collaboratively to get more kids on bikes. Not only will this initiative help empower and strengthen youth, I predict strong economic benefits to the communities within West Virginia that embrace the power of interscholastic cycling.”
Through its 21 leagues nationally, NICA provides quality youth development and sport enrichment opportunities to nearly 800 school based teams, 14,000+ students-athletes, and 6,000 licensed coaches. The organization has been growing steadily since 2009, and enjoys average growth of 35% annually. NICA West Virginia will be providing educational opportunities, camps and clinics in the upcoming year and is preparing for a Fall 2018 start for scholastic mountain bike racing.
West Virginia native Sue Haywood, two-time Pan American Champion and four-time National Champion, said “I’m really excited that West Virginia student-athletes will now have access to an interscholastic bike league. Bikes are a great way for kids to get outside, be physically active, engage in their community and have fun. With West Virginia’s abundance of trails and parks, this is a natural fit for the state and will have positive effects on the kids and communities for a lifetime.”
The addition of West Virginia to the NICA network greatly increases the availability of interscholastic cycling to young cyclists in both the Mid-Atlantic region and across the U.S. NICA’s growing network includes the established leagues in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Northern California, Pennsylvania, Southern California, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
“Mountain biking is something families can do together and it provides an amazing opportunity to enjoy the beauty of West Virginia,” according to Kristen Dieffenbach, an associate professor of Athletic Coaching Education at West Virginia University and professional cycling coach. “Cycling is a unique sport that can be enjoyed at all stages of life, both recreationally and competitively. As a long-time fan of the mission and efforts of NICA, I am thrilled that West Virginia now has a league dedicated to providing kids with opportunities to develop a passion for riding.”
The West Virginia League is headquartered in Morgantown, West Virginia. In addition to the efforts of the founding board, NICA West Virginia needs individuals passionate about creating quality opportunities for youth (note: mountain biking skills are not required). Volunteer opportunities exist for coaching, event and logistical support, fundraising, and more. Interested individuals are invited to contact League Director, Cassie Smith at email@example.com for more information about volunteer opportunities.