Cassie SmithLeague Director
Cassie Smith moved from Virginia to West Virginia to attend West Virginia University nearly 25 years ago. She earned her degree in physical education, and discovered mountain biking (and racing) which has been the center of her life for the last 25 years. Mostly she’s happy to compete close to home, often in the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association series, but she has also earned three USA Cycling Mountain Bike national age-group championships.
As Cassie has matured and started a family, she has seen how mountain biking has been a positive force in life, both for herself and for those around her. Cassie’s dream has been to spread that positive influence among the young people of the Mountain State. As Director of the West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League, this dream has come true, and she is dedicated to giving back to the cycling community that has given
so much to her and her family. She has led the effort in bringing a NICA League to West
Virginia, and loves utilizing her drive and talents to teach healthy living to the folks that
Bradley SchmalzerLeague President / Chief Course Setter / Chief Referee
Bradley has been deeply involved in bicycle racing for over a decade. As an elite-level mountain biker, Bradley has won the West Virginia Ultra Series five times, held multiple West Virginia State Championship titles, placed top-ten in the National Ultra Endurance Series and won numerous cross-country and stage races across the country. While he is slowing down a bit and racing less, Bradley is still a competitor at heart. Having traveled the country for years to race his bike, Bradley has a wide range of experiences and an unusual depth of knowledge about the sport of mountain biking.
Originally from Wisconsin, Bradley has planted roots in West Virginia. When he is not riding his mountain bike or spending time with his wife and two little girls, Bradley is a partner in a large regional law firm, practicing civil litigation in Charleston, West Virginia. Bradley dedicates his free time working to promote mountain biking and healthy lifestyles throughout the State. Bradley believes that mountain biking is a gateway to success for young people, and has all of the necessary components to teach them the life lessons and skills necessary to be successful in anything they wish to accomplish.
Dr. Stephen “Doc” WordenWVICL League Treasurer / League Coach Support / Team Coach
A veterinarian by profession, Dr. Stephen Worden has been deeply involved in the sport of mountain biking as a race director in the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association cross country series. He was instrumental in developing the “Race Around the Bend,” held at North Bend State Park for six years. He began cycling at five years of age, and has ridden a bike for recreation, work “delivering newspapers,” commuting to work, health and stress relief ever since.
As a race director, Stephen noticed the word “race” seemed to intimidate young, new mountain bikers. He believes the West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League (WVICL) eliminates the intimidating elements of the sport, allowing participants to have a series where the emphasis is on riding, youth development, camaraderie, and challenging oneself, not necessarily finishing first. Stephen firmly believes that WVICL will give the youth of West Virginia an opportunity to pursue their passion for the sport.
Kristen DieffenbachDirector of Coaching
Kristen Dieffenbach is an associate professor of Athletic Coaching Education and the director of the Center for Applied Coaching and Sport Science at West Virginia University. She earned her PhD in exercise and sport science with an emphasis in sport and exercise psychology and is an Association of Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) certified mental skills consultant (CMPC). Kristen is currently the president of the United States Center for Coaching Excellence and is the director of coaching for WVICL. Her research interests focus on professionalism, ethics and moral decision making in coach development and long term athletic talent development.
Kristen is a resident of Morgantown, WV and is a former division I NCAA athlete. She is also a professional coach with an elite USA Cycling license and a Level II endurance specialization from USA Track and Field. She has been coaching and working with junior athletes for 20 years. She shares a love of cycling and the outdoors with her husband, son and their furry four legged family members.
Phil WaidnerProgram Manager
Phil Waidner’s mountain bike love started early, growing up in Indiana, but blossomed into an obsession during his college years in Asheville, NC. Considering his mountain bike roots to always be Pisgah, Phil has traveled the world seeking out adventures on the bike. Combining his experience as a BICP Instructor Trainer, AMGA climbing instructor and PSIA ski instructor, Phil has developed a wide variety of co-ed youth programs blending traditional outdoor education philosophies with action sports.
Merging his interests in outdoor education and mountain biking, Phil developed MTB programs for a variety of summer camps and outdoor education programs across the country. He then spent time guiding and instructing in China, Bolivia and Colorado before landing in WV. Here he developed mountain bike, BMX, skateboard, and ATV programs at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, a large national facility for the Boy Scouts of America.
Phil is currently the Program Manager for Camps and Teen Trail Corps at the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). As he has always been passionate about youth mountain bike programs, Phil signed on early as a volunteer to bring NICA to WV through the bid process and acted as race director for the inaugural 2018 season.
When he’s not mountain biking, he can often be found exploring on his dirt bike, rock climbing, hiking, or just relaxing in the nearest swimming hole.
Zach AdamsRace Director
Zach visited the West Virginia highlands in 2012 to mountain bike, and fell in love with the mountainous region. He moved there in 2013 and never looked back. Zach currently lives in Canaan Valley with his partner and his trail dog supreme, Lona. You can find Lona representing at all the WVICL events. Zach is the owner and primary operator of Appalachian Dirt, one of two trail specialist companies in WV. When he’s not building sweet singletrack, you’ll find him and Lona riding in the mossy, fern covered woods of Canaan.
Zach started mountain biking through the Pennsylvania Scholastic Mountain BIking League, a predecessor to the NICA program modeled after the Northern California League, in 2004. He caught the cycling bug and dove in head first, traveling all across the country to race and ride over the next 10 years. Having gone through a pretty substantial shift in activity level – from couch potato to racing UCI level cross events – Zach knows what a life changing experience it can be to find cycling as a teenager.
Zach also instantly became fascinated with putting on events. Starting with local grassroots racing and the 2006 PA State Cyclocross Championships, all the way through some 23 different events all over the Mid-Atlantic Region. The move to the West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling league was a natural transition.
Eric HawkinberryDirector of Operations
Eric Hawkinberry began mountain biking over 20 years ago and has been riding both recreationally and competitively ever since. In recent years, he has become involved in road and gravel riding and racing as well.
Eric’s son, Sam, participated in WVICL’s inaugural 2018 season at the age of 12, and has been bitten by the cycling bug – with little brother Riley not far behind. Eric’s wife, Julie, looks after them all and makes sure the boys are fueled up for the ride (when she’s not out running).
Eric has taken on the role of Director of Operations after one year as a Level 2 Coach for the Morgantown Trailhawks. He and his team agree that the first year was a blast – if a little damp – and he is looking forward to a bright future for NICA in West Virginia. “Let’s keep it rolling!”
Sue HaywoodCoach Supporter
Sue Haywood is an east coast mountain bike icon. Her mountain bike career was baptized in the mud bogs and slippery rocks of Canaan Valley, West Virginia. She raced professionally for many years at both the national and international level. She is a multiple time National and Pan American champion. She excelled at both long endurance and short sprints. She still races on occasions, loving the exciting Enduro events. She is the 2018 Masters Enduro National Champion. She loves teaching mountain bike skills, especially to women and kids through day and weekend camps and private lessons. She is the creator of the Canaan MTB Festival and president of Blackwater Bicycle Association and the maker of HaySue’s Spicy Salsa. She is a combination of laid-back and tough. She believes the essence of mountain biking is being outside, moving our bodies, loving nature and riding with friends. She has faith in the power of cycling to positively affect individuals and communities.
Jessica HarmeningCoach Supporter
Jessica Harmening is a special education teacher at Morgantown High School in Morgantown, WV. A lifelong bicycle enthusiast, she took over the South Middle School bike club during her first year of teaching and has never looked back! Jessica is now a coach supporter for the WV league, the head coach of the Morgantown Composite Team, and she is in the process of starting a bike club at Morgantown High for the 2019-2020 school year. Jessica is committed to the core values of NICA, and she is especially interested in the inclusivity and equity aspect of mountain biking. She has a passion for working with all student athletes, especially those with special needs. Jessica places a focus on experiential education, trauma-informed coaching, and the benefits cycling has for children who struggle with focus, behavior, and emotional disorders. She also loves sharing support, advice, and funny stories with the amazing network of coaches in WVICL.
When Jessica is not teaching or coaching, she is outside enjoying nature on her bike or kayak or seeing live music with friends. Jessica is also the vice president of the Coopers Rock Foundation, where she enjoys giving back to the wild places that have given her so much.
Brenda LawrenceVolunteer Coordinator
My name is Brenda Lawrence and I am the volunteer coordinator for WVICL. I teach English at Morgantown High School. My husband Bill and our sons Mackenzie (23) and Cameron (16) live in Morgantown WV and have been involved in mountain biking for as long as I can remember. Currently, my younger son Cameron rides for The Morgantown Trailhawks and WVMBA. Mack and Bill are both course marshals and Bill is working toward coaching certification.
Two years ago when Cassie Smith came to me and said she wanted to bring NICA to WV, I immediately loved the idea. Both of my kids are athletes so I know first hand how important sports is to student development. I offhandedly said that I could maybe help out with the volunteer organization and next thing I know, I am the volunteer coordinator.
I have been so amazed at what this conference has done for the kids in the state. I am seeing the results in my own classroom. This conference gives all the kids who would not have considered being athletes a nontraditional option where they not only gain confidence in competition but a huge support system of coaches and teammates.
My fondest memories from last season are getting to meet so many interesting people!! Our volunteers are amazing! We started the season struggling to get enough folks to cover positions and by the last race, I was turning people away. I love seeing the people we raced with in the ’80s and ’90s bringing their kids back to enjoy the sport we all love.
Jessy CoffmanFeed Zone Manager
As an ingrained community member, involved volunteer, and dedicated professional of the Morgantown community for close to 25 years, Jessy Coffman, brings the experience of that woven fabric into her role as the Feed Zone Manager for the 2019 NICA season. Through multiple coordination efforts, professionally and personally, Jes will bring her organizational skills, parental experience, and her passion for lending a hand to whatever scale community project she is a part of to maximize and enhance the Feed Zone opportunities for this coming season.
Jes is the mom of 3 adventurous boys, of which her oldest son, Colt, participated and enjoyed in the 2018 NICA season as a 6th grade athlete. After becoming involved as a Level 1 NICA Coach in the 2018 season, Jes realized that there was the potential for an opportunity in helping the Feed Zone become an orchestrated hub for coaches and volunteers to connect to their athletes and create a space for them to recharge physically, receive an encouraging word, and feel the support the NICA community has developed.
Jessy has been a Program Coordinator for WVU's School of Medicine and Public Health for 17 years She is an avid volunteer in the Monongalia County School System helping to create a county-wide recycling program through her efforts of grant writing and green-initiative based projects awarded to her 3 sons' school. She is also a certified Yoga Instructor, after having completed her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2018 specializing in youth athletics. Jes sees the benefits yoga has on unionizing the mind, body, spirit connection for youth athletes. Jessy routinely gets out on her mountain bike to experience the joy and fellowship that comes with sharing in a ride with friends and family, specifically exploring the trails of North Central WV. By practicing the proverb of "many hands, make light work," Jessy hopes to inspire and be inspired by the network of parents, volunteers, and coaches working diligently to create a supporting space for individual, community, and biking growth for all involved throughout WV.
Brette SwarrGRiT Coordinator
Brette Swarr is a GRiT Coordinator for the West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League. She has been a recreational mountain biker for 24 years and is inspired by those who remain active throughout their lives. She loves outdoor adventures and the native plant and animal life of West Virginia. She is also enthusiastic about sharing her love of cycling with NICA’s student-athletes and, especially, empowering more girls to be confident and have a blast on bikes.
We Need Your Help
We are a volunteer-based organization. Without our dedicated volunteers, parents, and coaches, our programs would not exist. Race-day volunteers are what make our events a success. Volunteering for a race is a single-day (or a few hours) commitment and is perfect for someone who wants to be involved but is limited on time.